Penn State wasn’t given much of a chance heading into Columbus to face the #2 Buckeyes. For the 19.5-point underdog Nittany Lions to make it interesting, several players would need to be ready to step up with outstanding individual efforts. Junior safety Lamont Wade was more than ready to answer the call.
Wade put the exclamation point on his breakout season with the best performance of his Penn State career. Throughout the course of the afternoon, it was impossible to miss Wade as his name was called time after time after time. Wade more than proved his mettle with on the biggest stage, against the best collection of talent the Nittany Lions will face this season.
Wade’s statline was not only eye-popping, it was historic. He finished with 10 tackles, 2 TFLs, a sack, THREE forced fumbles as well as a fumble recovery. The three forced fumbles tied an all-time Big Ten record, as Wade joined the likes of Ohio State’s Antoine Winfield and Iowa’s Bob Sanders. It was only the third time it happened in a match-up of Big Ten teams, and sixth in FBS play since the year 2000.
Wade not only did his part to slow down the Buckeyes offense, he made game-altering plays to helped Penn State nearly pull off an upset bid. His first forced fumble occurred just as Justin Fields was crossing the goal line that would have given the Buckeyes an early 14-0 lead. Instead, it would be Penn State’s ball at the 20 following Cam Brown’s recovery in the end zone. It was a perfectly-timed, perfectly-positioned hit to separate the ball from Fields and give the Nittany Lions new life.
Later in the second half, Wade was able to pounce on a loose ball at the Buckeyes 12, helping Penn State pull to within 21-14 after all hope seemed lost after falling behind 21-0 at the start of the third quarter. On the next Buckeyes possession, Wade would strip the ball out of Fields’ hands yet again. Micah Parsons recovered the ball, which eventually led to a Penn State field goal. Wade would separate the ball from Fields one more time in the fourth quarter, forcing a fumble on a fourth down that was recovered by Fields, but forced the Buckeyes to punt the ball away and giving the Nittany Lions one last shot at a comeback bid.
On an afternoon with an overwhelming abundance of talent on both sides of the ball, Wade stood tall to prove he’s arrived as one of the premiere safeties in the Big Ten.
DE Yetur Gross-Matos- Gross-Matos proved why he is considered one of the top defensive linemen in college football, terrorizing the Buckeyes offense with 3.5 TFLs, two sacks and nine tackles despite exiting the game with an injury in the third quarter.
LB Micah Parsons- Parsons had a similar day as Wade, seemingly involved in every play. He finished with 10 tackles, two TFLs a forced fumble and fumble recovery. Parsons seems destined to be the Chase Young of the 2020 Penn State-Ohio State game when the teams meet in Beaver Stadium in October.
RB Journey Brown- Brown was a steady presence throughout the afternoon, managing 5.8 yards per carry against one of the nation’s most fierce defenses. His 18-yard touchdown run in the third quarter provided a huge spark that led to a major momentum shift for the Nittany Lions.