By Harry Allison
If you felt a draft of wind yesterday in Philly coming in from the northwest at around 1 p.m. it was probably 107,000 Penn State fans exhaling in relief.
The Nits started their games against woeful Rutgers so poorly that it looked as if a third straight loss was being teed up!
And it took a little longer than coach James Franklin would have liked, but Trace McSorley accounted for 258 total yards and three touchdowns and Penn State overcame an early deficit with 35 unanswered points to beat the Scarlet Knights 35-6.
McSorley became Penn State’s all-time touchdown leader with 68, overtaking Daryll Clark’s record of 65 with one rushing and two passing scores. Trailing 6-0 with 11:16 left in the first quarter, Penn State’s offense came alive with two deep McSorley passes that set up his own zigzagging 20-yard touchdown run. The scoring drive took just 1:44 and gave Penn State the lead for good.
”I think we’re always at our best on offense when Trace factors into our running game and keeps people honest and keeps people on their toes,” Franklin said.
McSorley threw touchdowns to DaeSean Hamilton and Mike Gesicki, and Saquon Barkley ran for two touchdowns for Penn State (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten). Barkley, a Heisman Trophy candidate, was slowed again. He ran for just 35 yards on 14 carries while McSorley added 44 yards on 13 carries.
”Their skill players were the difference in the game, including him,” Rutgers coach Chris Ash said. ”He was able to scramble around and extend drives with his feet.”
Rutgers (4-6, 3-4) got a pair of field goals from Andrew Harte, including one from 33 yards after the Scarlet Knights recovered the opening kickoff. He added a 25-yarder later in the first, but Rutgers’ momentum ended there.
The Scarlet Knights didn’t get a first down in the second half until their final drive, which ended in a turnover on downs.
Robert Martin led Rutgers with 71 yards on 11 carries. Giovanni Rescigno completed 7 of 20 passes for 43 yards for the Scarlet Knights.