Penn State started out strong, leading temple by at least two touchdowns for the first half. Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va.) showed his dominant passing game early on, granting Chris Godwin (Middletown, Del.) and Andre Robinson (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) two touchdowns in the first half.
Despite a strong first half, Penn State had numerous errors in the second half that cost them dearly and allowed Temple to accrue 14 more points in the second half, at one point pulling within a single touchdown of the Nittany Lions. An interception by Temple and then a fumbled punt return in the fourth quarter is what allowed Temple their moments of short-lived glory.
However, Penn State was determined to win this game with a significant point spread, and Saquon Barkley (Coplay, Pa.) notched a 55-yard touchdown with under 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Penn State then intercepted a Temple pass, effectively ending Temple’s time on offense.
Penn State showed improvement this week, as evidenced by some impressive statistics.
Godwin totaled 111 yards while Mike Gesicki (Manahawkin, N.J.) totaled 62, but also made headlines for an incredible one-handed catch while being pursued by a defensive player. Thanks to Gesicki’s catch, Penn State was put in prime position on Temple’s three yard line. Although the Lions were unable to convert to a touchdown, Gesicki’s catch was a huge upswing in momentum for the team and fans.
“I’m happy… I want the ball,” said Gesicki after the game. “So I mean that was just another opportunity that Coach Moorhead is continuing to give everyone on this offense.”
The stars of the day included the Penn State linebackers, nearly all of who were back-up linemen for Nyeem Wartman-White, Brandon Bell, and Jason Cabinda, who were all injured for this game. Jake Cooper, Manny Bowen, Christian Campbell, and Brandon Smith all stepped up to the plate and pleasantly surprised both their team and the fans with their ability to demonstrate thoughtful play under pressure.
“We just have to keep working through, keep grinding, and keep developing these guys,” said Head Coach James Franklin of the back-up linebackers. “I loved how the defense handled it. It wasn’t one coach, it wasn’t one player that said one thing about it… they went in there and battled. So, very proud of how they handled that.”
Next week, Penn State faces its first Big Ten opponent of the season: Michigan. It promises to be an exciting away game that fans can tune into starting at 3:30 p.m.