No. 8 Penn State Takes Rutgers To School In 39-0 Drubbing
No. 8 Penn State (9-2, 7-1 Big Ten) took care of business on a windy night in Piscataway, holding the Scarlet Knights scoreless for the fourth time this season in a 39-0 victory. Those four games combined: 224-0.
The Nittany Lions have won seven conference games in a row for the first time since the 1994 Rose Bowl season. They put up 549 yards of total offense (339 rushing) Saturday. Penn State held its hapless opponents to just 87 yards — a new school record in Big Ten play.
How It Happened
Things started off on the wrong foot for the Nittany Lions, as true freshman Miles Sanders muffed the opening kickoff, giving Rutgers the ball on the 19-yard line. Brent Pry’s defense stepped up big-time, though, pushing the Scarlet Knights backward to force a field goal attempt. Penn State dodged an early bullet as kicker David Bonagura missed his 45-yarder.
The Nittany Lions went three-and-out on their first drive, but following Blake Gillikin’s punt, they put together a quick stop of their own to get the ball right back. Tyler Davis would put the game’s first points on the board from 32 yards out to give Penn State a 3-0 lead with 6:34 to go in the first quarter. Davis added another one from 34 the next time the blue and white took the field to make it 6-0. Giovanni Rescigno got the start at quarterback for the Scarlet Knights, but they would rotate in mobile freshman Tylin Oden as well. Neither got much going in the first half as Rutgers was held to 66 yards of total offense.
Trace McSorley led the Nittany Lions on a nine-play, 69-yard drive to the Rutgers doorstep, but his pass for tight end Mike Gesicki sailed high on fourth and one for a turnover on downs at the two-yard line. Another opportunity for the Scarlet Knights, another three-and-out. Michael Cintron’s punt flew a mere 21 yards and Penn State took over with great field position at the 29. The Nittany Lions would settle for another field goal from Davis — this time a perfect 40-yard boot through the uprights with 7:09 to go before the half. Both teams traded punts ahead of the intermission, with the score remaining 9-0 Penn State.
Pry’s boys started the second half off right with yet another three-and-out (notice a theme here?). Redshirt freshman receiver and Glassboro, N.J., native Juwan Johnson made the play of his young Penn State career on the ensuing punt, going untouched for the block. Backup safety Nick Scott nearly took it back to the house, but stumbled as he tried to scoop up the loose ball at the 10. Redshirt freshman corner Garrett Taylor came up the fumble.
After failing to score a touchdown on its first four trips to the red zone, Penn State finally broke through on a one-yard stretch from Saquon Barkley. The one-time Rutgers commit now has 14 rushing touchdowns on the season, setting a new Penn State sophomore record. He would finish with 92 yards on 16 carries. You guessed it, another punt for Rutgers on its next drive. Davis nailed his fourth field goal of the game — a new career-high — from 32 yards to give the Nittany Lions a 19-0 lead with 6:46 left in the third quarter.
Barkley was banged up as Penn State quickly drove into Scarlet Knight territory, leaving room for redshirt freshman Andre Robinson to score his fourth rushing touchdown of the season for a 25-0 lead. Penn State botched the snap on its PAT and Billy Fessler would throw the ball away. Rutgers finally got its first explosive play of the night on the kickoff, as Justin Goodwin brought it back 51 yards to the Penn State 44. First-year head coach Chris Ash’ squad punted for the ninth time in a row, however.
Later on, McSorley showed off his washing-machine moves, spinning out of two would-be tackles for a big first down run reminiscent of Johnny Manziel. Mark Allen joined the fun on a 27-yard catch and run for a highlight-reel touchdown. The Nittany Lions enjoyed every moment of their 32-0 advantage with 7:59 left on the clock, but they weren’t done yet.
Backup Tommy Stevens checked in at quarterback, leading Penn State on a quick four-play, 74-yard drive. Sanders exploded for a huge 57-yard gain up the middle before Stevens made it 39-0 with his legs the very next play from 12 yards out. Both Sanders and Stevens set new career-highs in rushing yards with 85 and 61, respectively. The Nittany Lions would slow things down and head into the locker room victorious.
Player Of The Game
Tyler Davis | Redshirt junior | Kicker
The St. Charles, Ill., native drilled a personal-best four field goals to lead Penn State to an early lead it would never surrender. Pretty heady stuff for the former soccer player on a tough night weather-wise.
Penn State will wrap up its regular season on Senior Day next Saturday against Michigan State. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on ESPN. The Nittany Lions need a win and a Michigan loss to Ohio State to reach the Big Ten Championship.
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