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‘That Was Awesome’: KeAndre Lambert-Smith Saves Penn State Football With Game-Winning Catch

KeAndre Lambert-Smith knew what was about to happen.

Penn State football quarterback Drew Allar stepped back in the pocket, looked downfield, and with a throw that seemed almost casual, hurled his pass downfield. It landed perfectly into the waiting arms of Lambert-Smith.

Penn State’s best wide receiver then toed the line at the edge of the field with his head looking downward, making sure that he didn’t step out-of-bounds. He didn’t. Ten yards later, Lambert-Smith gave the Nittany Lions their game-winning touchdown in style, as Penn State narrowly avoided an upset at the hands of Indiana at Beaver Stadium, winning 33-24.

The crowd went wild.

“That was awesome,” James Franklin said about the catch after the game. He called the play “awesome” five more times before he began to praise Allar for his poise in the pocket. Needless to say, Franklin was thrilled.

“Drew being able to sit in there and deliver that ball and KeAndre being able to make the play, and finish, and stay in bounds was awesome,” Franklin said. “Awesome.”

Lambert-Smith’s catch was heroic. It saved Penn State from a dogfight with Indiana, which was 2-5 going into Saturday’s game and had only beaten Indiana State and Akron. There were fewer than two minutes left in the game when Lambert-Smith walked into the end zone, and the Nittany Lions had been stuck in a tie with the Hoosiers, 24-24.

Penn State was also coming off of a difficult loss the week prior, falling 20-12 to Ohio State on the road. For a team fighting for a top spot in a very tight Big Ten East division, a loss to Indiana would’ve meant the end of its playoff hopes.

When it mattered most, Lambert-Smith had the weight of the game placed on his shoulders. Nevertheless, he said he wasn’t concerned.

“I wasn’t looking at it like a game-winner,” Lambert-Smith said after the game. “I just knew it was man coverage. And I was like, ‘Yo, I’m ready to make a play.'”

Perhaps the most fascinating part of Lambert-Smith’s catch was that Penn State had run the same play earlier in the game, though in that instance, Lambert-Smith’s route ended up as a slant instead of a mad dash down the sideline. The more important difference: He dropped the ball.

“I’m not going to lie, I don’t like dropping the ball,” Lambert-Smith said. “But I didn’t let that play affect the fourth quarter. I just wiped that away and was ready to make the next one.”

Lambert-Smith’s catch encompassed several storylines in just a few yards. Penn State fans have had concerns about the receiving corps, especially at the wide receiver position. Those concerns are justified. The Nittany Lions only have two wide receivers of true quality in Lambert-Smith and Trey Wallace, with the latter going down with his second injury of the season early in the game against Indiana.

Allar also hasn’t played at the level that many thought he could. Against Ohio State, Allar went 18-42 with 191 passing yards and one touchdown. It wasn’t pretty and was the climax of rising concerns that fans had since near the beginning of the season.

Penn State was even getting booed by its own fans during the Indiana game. When the going got rough, the reported crowd of more than 107,000 voiced its displeasure five times in ways that weren’t always polite. But Lambert-Smith said that didn’t matter to him.

“I’m not going to lie. Fans boo. I feel like that’s kind of normal,” Lambert-Smith said. “We can’t satisfy every fan. You hear it, but you don’t pay attention to it. Because when we score a touchdown, you’re going to hear them cheering.”

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About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a junior journalism major at Penn State and an associate editor at Onward State. He covers Penn State football and enjoys yelling on Twitter about Philadelphia/Penn State sports. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. Please send all positive affirmations and/or hate mail toward him on Twitter (iamjoelister) or via email ([email protected]).

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