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Penn State Football’s Seniors Impress In Win Over Michigan State

Penn State football played a dominant second half that propelled it to a 39-24 victory over Michigan State on Senior Day.

The Nittany Lions fell behind 21-10 at halftime but were able to battle back in large part due to the performances of some of their senior players.

Here’s a closer look at some of the most notable performances from Penn State’s senior class in the win over the Spartans.

Jaquan Brisker, Safety

Jaquan Brisker had one of his best games as a Nittany Lion Saturday afternoon. The Lackawanna Community College transfer totaled nine tackles, 1.5 for a loss, two quarterback hits, and one interception. His nine tackles led the team, and it was the highest single-game total of his Penn State career.

Entering Saturday’s game, Pro Football Focus graded Brisker the third-best defensive back in college football.

The safety’s performance against the Spartans should only increase that grade as he attempts to keep up his elite play in next week’s matchup with Illinois.

Shane Simmons, Defensive End

Shane Simmons was a pleasant surprise for the Nittany Lions against the Spartans. Starting in place of Jayson Oweh, Simmons played the best game of his college career, totaling seven tackles (a career-high), two for a loss, 1.5 sacks, and one pass breakup.

Head coach James Franklin had high praise for Simmons, saying he’s been “a huge part of our program over the last five years.”

“Shane did a great job,” Franklin said. “He got a lot of reps, played well, and was physical. I’m proud of him. I’m really proud of Shane. I’m a big fan of Shane. I always have been, and I always will be. He’s been a great teammate here for the last five years.”

Antonio Shelton, Defensive Tackle

Antonio Shelton, like Simmons and Brisker, also set a career-high on the stat sheet Saturday afternoon. Shelton had a career-high 1.5 sacks to go along with his three tackles, and, of course, was right in the middle of the defense that dominated the Spartans in the second half.

Shelton has played a pivotal role in Penn State’s defensive line this season, totaling 12 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks.

Lamont Wade, Safety

Lamont Wade had a quiet day on the stat sheet with just three tackles and one pass breakup but played an exceptional game. According to Pro Football Focus, Wade was in coverage on 43 snaps and allowed zero catches.

Additionally, Wade made an impact on special teams for the first time this season. He returned three kicks for a total of 87 yards, his longest for 37 yards.

Shaka Toney, Defensive End

Shaka Toney posted five tackles, one being for a loss, in the comeback win. Toney was a part of an impressive performance from the Nittany Lions’ defensive line, joining the previously mentioned Simmons and Shelton.

Toney has totaled 25 tackles, 6.5 for a loss, and four sacks so far this season. His four sacks rank No. 7 in the Big Ten, and he’s only 1.5 sacks away from tying the conference lead.

It may have been Senior Day, but it won’t be the last time these seniors play at Beaver Stadium. Penn State will host Illinois at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 19.

In October, the NCAA granted fall sport athletes an extra year of eligibility. Currently, it’s unclear whether any of Penn State’s seniors will take advantage of the additional year.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a senior majoring in journalism and is suddenly Onward State's managing editor. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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