This game’s Most Valuable Player could’ve gone to the many deserving players or units listed under Honorable Mentions, but instead, why not recognize the entire 2017 senior class? Penn State’s leading tackler was fifth-year man linebacker Brandon Smith (five tackles), while Christian Campbell, Jason Cabinda, and Marcus Allen each had four stops, with Cabinda and Grant Haley earning two of the team’s five sacks. After a week in which the defense (yes, I realize it was not just the first team) allowed 44 points, the Nittany Lions gave up just 3 points and earned five sacks, while forcing two turnovers. Of course, the leadership that men like Cabinda, Haley, and Allen have demonstrated their entire careers can’t be mentioned enough, but this is not a lifetime achievement award.
Offensively, DaeSean Hamilton finished second in receiving with 59 yards on five receptions, while Mike Gesicki collected his two touchdowns, including this gem:
Hamilton has his second-most receiving yards in his career this season with 747, and is second in touchdowns with 7. Gesicki and Hamilton have been the two most dependable receivers for Trace McSorley this season, combining for 1248 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Think about what this team has gone through since they arrived on campus in 2014, at the beginning of the James Franklin era, and what has transpired in the following seasons. This game was the epitome of a team effort, where there was no clear standout player, other than perhaps the two quarterbacks.
McSorley has some people calling him the leader on offense, and the Ashburn, VA native backed that up with three first half touchdowns.
McSorley finished 22/33 for 237 yards passing, 36 yards rushing, and three total touchdowns.
The other strong contender for this week’s honor was backup quarterback Tommy Stevens, who was the team’s leading rusher with 113 rushing yards and four total touchdowns, including this run:
The future is bright with Tommy Touchdowns, but yesterday’s performance was a true team effort, hence the designation. The 2017 season still has one more game remaining for these seniors (and perhaps a junior running back) to leave their legacy with the Blue and White, but Saturday was another example of how this team has grown over the last four seasons.