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Miles Sanders Impresses In First Game As Starting Tailback

Miles Sanders waited a long time for the opportunity to start at running back for Penn State football, but the performance he put in against Appalachian State was well worth the wait.

He rushed for 91 yards on 18 carries and scored two touchdowns — including the eventual game-winner in overtime. Sanders’ performance was a big part of why No. 10 Penn State escaped Beaver Stadium with a victory over the Mountaineers.

True freshman Ricky Slade’s 27-yard rushing touchdown may have been the highlight play of the game for Penn State, but Sanders’ scores of two and four yards were equally as important in the Nittany Lions’ victory that sees them start the season in the win column.

After the game, No. 24 approached head coach James Franklin and told him, “I’ve waited two years for this.” Franklin is concerned that some players abuse college football’s lenient transfer rules to take the easy way out and transfer to search for playing time. He’s glad that Sanders didn’t take this path and patiently waited his turn instead.

“I’m happy for Miles,” Franklin said postgame. “We’ve made some rules to make it easier to transfer, and I get it, but I worry because I think most of us, and all of us, are using the game of football to teach life lessons, and the lesson of life is not to leave to go to the path of least resistance, it’s to battle and fight and earn a job and overcome adversity.”

“Miles is a great example of that. He was sitting behind Saquon Barkley — maybe the best running back on the planet — and he just kept grinding and kept working and kept staying positive. I think he is going to have a huge year for us.”

Starting quarterback Trace McSorley scored three touchdowns of his own and was thoroughly impressed by No. 24’s debut as the starter.

“He handled himself really well,” No. 9 said. “I think Miles had a really good game. Our running backs, all three of them are capable of coming in making plays and being spark plugs for our team. He did a great job on his touchdowns, especially on the goal line, seeing the lane open and doing what he does best. He was able to come in and answer some questions that a lot of people had.”

Starting safety Garrett Taylor wasn’t surprised by Sanders’ big game based on his performance throughout training camp.

“Obviously, Miles had a lot of motivation with Sa[quon Barkley] leaving and being able to step up and fill some pretty big shoes,” Taylor said. “He had the touchdown in overtime and was real consistent for us throughout the game. We knew that as a team because we had seen it all camp.”

Penn State (1-0) will travel to Pittsburgh next weekend to take on Pitt at Heinz Field. The game will kick off at 8 p.m. and be broadcast on ABC.

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About the Author

Mikey Mandarino

In the most upsetting turn of events, Mikey graduated from Penn State with a digital & print journalism degree in the spring of 2020. He covered Penn State football and served as an editor for Onward State from 2018 until his graduation. Mikey is from Bedminster, New Jersey, so naturally, he spends lots of time yelling about all the best things his home state has to offer. Mikey also loves to play golf, but he sucks at it because golf is really hard. If you, for some reason, feel compelled to see what Mikey has to say on the internet, follow him on Twitter @Mikey_Mandarino. You can also get in touch with Mikey via his big-boy email address: [email protected]

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