After delivering a less-than-stellar-performance at the Pitt game, Trace McSorley found redemption against another set of Panthers in this week’s Georgia State game, playing his best game of the season.
McSorley wasted no time at the start, completing five consecutive passes on the first drive of the game, ending with a 10 yard touchdown pass to Tommy Stevens.
Later in the first quarter, McSorley, under pressure, looked like he might run the ball, but turned and tossed the ball to Saquon, who ran 85 yards down the sideline for a touchdown for the highlight of the game. Let’s just watch this over and over and over again:
That 85 yard touchdown pass was a career long for McSorley, making him the very first Penn State quarterback with two career 80-plus yard passing plays. It was also the longest Penn State pass play ever at home and the third longest in Penn State history.
McSorley wasn’t done yet, and in the second quarter went on to connect again to Barkley for a 44 yard reception; a 27 yard touchdown pass to DaeSean Hamilton; a Miles Sanders 29 yard touchdown; oh, and then an eight-yard quarterback carry for the final touchdown of the first half.
By halftime, McSorley had completed 14 for 19 attempts for 258 yards and three touchdowns, setting a Penn State record for passing yards in the first half.
McSorley left the game in the middle of the third quarter, but not until he threw one final touchdown pass to Brandon Polk for 15 yards. McSorley finished the game completing 18 of his 23 attempts, his best completion percentage (78.2) that he’s ever had as a starter, with 309 total yards passing and four touchdowns. Nice rebounding from last week.
Saquon Barkley – Saquon was nearly my MVP this week, but I’m sure he’ll make the BSD list again this year. Barkley started off by returning the opening kickoff for 37 yards with ease, and snagged a total of 4 receptions for 142 yards during the game, including that perfect 85 yard pass reception for a touchdown, a career long catch.
Barkley also rushed for 50 yards on 10 carries, amassing 226 all purpose yards in just the first three quarters of play. His 85 yard reception put him in another category all alone as the only Penn State player to snag both an 80-plus yard reception and 80-plus hard run.
Oh, and Barkley did all this while suffering the effects of some sort of stomach bug, causing concern among the Nittany Lion faithful who saw him sidelined for a bit during the second quarter. Just imagine if he’d felt 100%.
Tommy Stevens – When your backup quarterback is better than most schools’ starting quarterbacks, you find a way to use him during the game. Early in the first quarter, while lined up as a running back, Stevens caught his first career reception for a touchdown, a 10 yard pass from McSorley. Later in the third quarter, Stevens caught a 9 yard pass, finishing the game with two receptions for 19 yards, a career best.
Apparently Stevens is also a quarterback, and took over the helm during the third quarter. He also threw his first career touchdown pass in the third quarter, a 35-yard pass to Saeed Blacknall, making him the first Penn State player to have a touchdown pass and reception in the same game since Christian Hackenberg (against Illinois in 2015). Stevens’ receiving and passing touchdowns were both the first of his career.