All aspects of the Nittany Lions came together this past Saturday for an all-around team game. The defense, offense, and even special teams showed their passion for blue and white this weekend by giving it their all.
“Overall, I thought we played really well. I thought offensively we mixed the run, the pass, and the shots plays pretty well,” noted Head Coach James Franklin after the shutout.
Illinois never advanced past the 40, and averaged only 2.4 yards per play. The Fighting Illini had a small margin of yards gained at just 167. Penn State defense shut down Illinois junior quarterback Wes Lunt with four sacks. Lunt completed 16 of 36 passes for 129 on Saturday.
After notably dominating the first and second quarters, Penn State was up 15-0 at the break.
“The fast start was huge for us, to be able to rip off a couple things early was big for the confidence. We executed as a team,” said junior quarterback Christian Hackenberg (Palmyra, Va.).
One of the most exciting plays of the game was when Hackenberg gave the ball to redshirt sophomore running back Nick Scott (Fairfax, Va.), then proceeded to curl behind Scott and receive a pass from Scott that allowed Hackenberg to run the ball into the end zone for a Nittany Lion touchdown.
The sometimes unrefined Penn State offensive line came out sharp on Saturday, and made smart plays with few errors.
Saquon Barkley (freshman – running back) (Coplay, Pa.) was once again a standout player, notching an incredible leaping touchdown on Saturday. After cinching 84 yards, Barkley is now the owner of 716 yards this season, an incredible feat for a true freshman.
Sophomore linebacker Jason Cabinda (Flemington, N.J.) said it best: “I think it was our most complete game…I think this was the most complete win we’ve had and it’s awesome. I think this game will be huge for our confidence and that’s really the most important thing.”
A true example of bleeding blue and white on the new turf at Beaver Stadium occurred this past weekend. The Nittany Lions are once again on the road, this time to Northwestern (6-2, 2-2) this coming Saturday for a noon kickoff. With their confidence and skills at an all-time high, the Nittany Lions should have no problem showing the Northwestern wildcats that a lion is the fiercer feline.