They became a pack. A pack of the most dedicated, most driven men to take the field at 8 p.m. at Beaver Stadium. Although Rutgers did their best considering their lack of a head coach and key players, the Scarlet Knights simply could not defend themselves in the face of the mighty Lions.
The Nittany Lions had some of their most stellar playing yet this season with 330 rushing yards. There was some incredible play on offense, especially from running backs junior Akeel Lynch (Toronto, Can.) and true freshman Saquon Barkley (Coplay, Pa.).
Saquon Barkley turned heads yet again this week as he cinched his second consecutive game of more than 100 yards. Barkley earned the Lions two touchdowns, using his quickness and intuition to help him find the end zone despite rainy conditions. No true freshman has achieved more than 195 rushing yards since 1998. Barkley is a player who is looking to make a big name for himself during his career as a Nittany Lion.
Akeel Lynch also caused the crowd to roar when he had a career-high 75-yard touchdown run. Lynch broke 100 yards as well, making it the first time since 2013 a pair of running backs both had over 100 rushing yards in a game.
The young squad of Nittany Lions went on to impress on defense. True freshman cornerback John Reid (Mount Laurel, N.J.) made his first career interception as well as recovered a fumble, giving the Nittany Lions possession during a the later part of the game.
Redshirt freshman kicker Joey Julius (Hummelstown, Pa.) maintained his excellent field goal record, sinking all field goal attempts. Julius was an important part of the Lions’ success on Saturday as he continues making a name for himself on the team and with fans.
Junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg (Palmyra, Va.) completed 10 out of 19 passes. One of the most impressive statistics of the day was that for the second game in a row, Hackenberg remained on his feet; he was not sacked once. Hackenberg’s pocket passes were a large reason the Lions were able to score four touchdowns and have such successful drives. Even running the ball a few times, it is clear Hackenberg has stepped up his game.
There were so many standout players on Saturday that is almost impossible to name them all. From a consistently solid defense to an offense that has undoubtedly been working hard to resolve some issues, Penn State could not have come together more than they did this weekend at Beaver Stadium.
From the fans’ perspective, this was a game to remember. A day that started off with a twinge of fall briskness and ended in a shower of rain, fans knew it would be a day to remember. There is nothing more magical than a hyped up game under the luminescent lights of Beaver Stadium. No one was disappointed thanks to the tangible adrenaline pumping through attendee’s veins.
Penn State fans tastefully reminded Rutgers that the rivalry is no more, and never has been, when they chanted, “We’re not rivals!” during the fourth quarter. All in good fun, Penn State students know how to make their dominance clear, and Rutgers most certainly left Happy Valley with that chant ingrained in their minds.
Likewise, Penn State’s first Stripe Out was a phenomenal success, and Beaver Stadium looked incredible in swaths of blue and white. It will surely become a tradition that will continue many years into the future.
Penn State takes on San Diego State at home next weekend with a 3 p.m. kickoff. If Penn State learned anything from this weekend, it is to never lose faith. Whether we win or lose, we are one school, one voice, one team, forever.