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Penn State Takes Down Rutgers 20-7

No. 14 Penn State (8-3, 5-3 Big Ten) traveled to Piscataway on Saturday to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (1-10, 0-8 Big Ten) at HighPoint.com Stadium.

The Nittany Lions certainly didn’t play their most impressive game of the season, but it was still enough to edge out Rutgers. Pat Freiermuth had a big game through the air, tallying two touchdowns on the afternoon in a 20-7 win.

How It Happened

Both teams started the game with three-and-outs. On Rutgers’ second drive of the afternoon, Shareef Miller came up with a sack for a loss of ten, forcing a 3rd and 20 before a punt. The Nittany Lions would counter with another three-and-out.

Penn State finally got a first down on its third drive of the day, handing the ball off twice to Miles Sanders. Jahan Dotson reeled in a catch for another first down to keep the Nittany Lions driving. Franklin would settle for a 22-yard field goal on the drive to give Penn State a 3-0 lead with 2:27 to play in the first quarter. Penn State went into the first intermission with 67 yards of total offense and just those three points to show for it.

With 7:37 remaining in the half, John Reid came up with an interception as the ball sailed out of Sitkowski’s hand over the intended receiver. Despite taking over at the Rutgers 44 yard-line, the offense stalled out quickly and Gillikin was forced to punt once again.

On Rutgers’ next drive, a screen play broke down and Sitkowski tried to throw the ball away from danger, but ended up leaving Garrett Taylor with enough space to make an interception. Trace McSorley found Pat Freiermuth for a 23-yard gain before hitting the tight end on a 6-yard fade for the touchdown. The Nittany Lions took a 10-0 lead with 2:04 remaining in the half.

McSorley’s offense drove down all the way to the Rutgers 2-yard line with just 10 seconds remaining in the half, but couldn’t break through on a run or a passing attempt. Pinegar hit a field goal as time expired to give Penn State a 13-0 lead heading into the half.

The Scarlet Knights looked good on the ground on their first drive of the half, running the ball 73 yards all the way to the Penn State 2-yard line. The runners were stuffed three straight times before Rutgers ran the Philly Special and had quarterback Giovanni Rescigno wide open in the end zone. The quarterback dropped the pass on the most Rutgers play ever and turned the ball over on downs. 

Penn State would open up the scoring in the fourth quarter as McSorley hit Freiermuth for an 18-yard touchdown pass to give the visitors a 20-0 lead with 13:06 remaining in the game. 

Rutgers would break through for a touchdown against Penn State for the first time since 2014 with 9:23 remaining in the game. Fittingly, Raheem Blackshear was the man to do it, capping off a pretty impressive performance with the score. That touchdown was the first Rutgers had scored against Penn State since 2014.

Miles Sanders fumbled the ball deep into Rutgers territory with 1:17 to play in the game, but it didn’t matter as Rutgers wasn’t able to make anything happen.

Takeaways

  • Penn State started the game with two three-and-outs. I don’t really understand how they’ve managed to have so little success early on, especially given the fact that the first drive is almost always pre-determined…and they were playing Rutgers.
  • Ricky Rahne showed a new wrinkle to the offense, having both Miles Sanders and Ricky Slade line up in the backfield beside McSorley. Usually, Slade would run a route into the flat, given a new dimension to the read option. 
  • Penn State threw the ball down the field! It was actually fun to watch guys like Dotson, Hamler, and Freiermuth run down the seams and have opportunities to make big plays.

What’s Next

Penn State will play its final regular season game at home against Maryland. The Nittany Lions will take on the Terrapins at 3:30 p.m. and the game will be televised on ABC.

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About the Author

Derek Bannister

Derek is a senior majoring in Economics and History. He is legally required to tell you that he's from right outside of Philly. Email Derek compliments and dad-jokes at [email protected]

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