Saturday was senior day at Beaver Stadium. While it did not feature the norm celebrations a senior day holds, it did not make it any less of a special day for the Nittany Lion seniors. Especially with the team picking up a 39-24 victory over Michigan State.
The 2020 group of seniors included a pair of redshirt senior defensive linemen — Shane Simmons and Antonio Shelton — who had strong showings. For both Simmons and Shelton, their strong games began on the game’s opening drive when Simmons for his first sack and Shelton is first tackle for a loss.
Happy to see Shane Simmons having a nice game on Senior Day— Jarred Walp (@jaywalp) December 12, 2020
Shane Simmons gets a sack on senior day.. so happy for him— Sigh (@PSU_Strong) December 12, 2020
Shane Simmons balling out today would be so awesome— Marty (@msj41817) December 12, 2020
Fantastic to see that from Shane Simmons today.— Sean Fitz (@seanfitz247) December 12, 2020
Great tip by Shane Simmons. He's having himself a nice day.— Matt Bortner (@M_Bortner) December 12, 2020
Quite the day for senior Shane Simmons. He records the Penn State's third sack of the game and forces another Michigan State punt.— The Football Letter (@PSUFBLetter) December 12, 2020
Shane Simmons is playing very well on Senior Day for Penn State. 5 tackles, 1.5 for loss— Ben Ferree (@BFerree_) December 12, 2020
Antonio Shelton with the sack— The Football Letter (@PSUFBLetter) December 12, 2020
Antonio Shelton is a MAN— trapper john (@lesmilesstan) December 12, 2020
ANTONIO SACKTON— Jeremy Reeder (@TheJeremyReeder) December 12, 2020
It was great to see a pair of redshirt seniors, especially one like Simmons as both he and his family have been great ambassadors for the program, make splash plays on senior day. Simmons recorded a pair of sacks while Shelton finished the game with multiple TFLs.
With Penn State trailing early in the 2nd quarter, Sean Clifford broke off a 31-yard touchdown run to get the Nittany Lions back in front. This was his third touchdown run this season of 25+ yards.
Sean Clifford looking at the Michigan State defense right now pic.twitter.com/Y1UlZznbTR— Steve Helwick (@s_helwick) December 12, 2020
Sean Clifford with the wheelz— Conor Mcandie (@ConorMcandie) December 12, 2020
So Sean Clifford is speed— Papa G (NYG: 5-7, #9 NOVA 5-1, PSU 2-5) (@papa_gardner11) December 12, 2020
Entering the game Michigan State was one of the worst offenses in the Big Ten. They were averaging 20.4 PPG and had not scored more than 29 in a game. Well, after the Nittany Lions allowed 21 first half points fans were not happy with Brent Pry and the defense.
Also, pls fire Brent Pry— Nick Peterson (@nickyp_baller) December 12, 2020
Any college program in need of a new head coach, please dear god hire Brent Pry— Mike Williams (@mikewilliams378) December 12, 2020
Brent Pry is buttcheeks too.— Jake Deemer (@TheDeemerReamer) December 12, 2020
Hello, it’s me. Back on the fire Brent Pry train.— Greg (@GMZ5034) December 12, 2020
There is no reason Brent Pry should coaching #PennState defense next year.— Philly Sports Fanatic (@thunderducks26) December 12, 2020
A pretty low bar had been set earlier this season, but this is definitely the worst the Penn State defense has looked all year. Really sad effort across the board, no pass rush, invisible LB play, awful situation at DB.— Tim Hyland (@IntelligentCFB) December 12, 2020
“This is the best this offense has looked all season” is the 2020 Penn State defense in 10 words.— PSU Analytics (@PSU_Analytics) December 12, 2020
Penn State defense softer than that cheesecake— Nicholas Dionise (@TheBeta100) December 12, 2020
To the credit of Pry and company, the Nittany Lion defense was much improved in the second half. They held the Spartans to just 3 second half points and 147 yards. The defense was also able to generate a consistent pass rush throughout the second half.
Starting with Penn State’s first drive of the second half, wide receivers Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington, as they have done so often this season, started to step up and make plays for the Nittany Lion offense.
Jahan Dotson is a beast— Gray (@NBAGray1) December 12, 2020
Jahan Dotson elite— (@Mallb__1) December 12, 2020
Jahan Dotson’s hands are crazy— Tom Wendell (@tomwendell) December 12, 2020
Jahan Dotson is very good. That is all.— Jon Sauber (@JonSauber) December 12, 2020
Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington are some dudes— Ben Jones (@Ben_Jones88) December 12, 2020
Parker Washington— Jonathan "Hops" McVerry (@WaWaislife) December 12, 2020
I need to see Parker Washington’s birth certificate. Need that paperwork on my desk. No way he was in high school last year.— RR. (@RonReddJr) December 12, 2020
Parker Washington is a rising star.— THEPSULionInsider (@PsuLionInsider) December 12, 2020
Parker Washington is special. Excited for his future— Jeremy Polovitch (@Polo_1603) December 12, 2020
parker washington is a stud— devon (@freshfinn) December 12, 2020
Weekly Parker Washington appreciation tweet— PSU News and Notes (@psufball107k) December 12, 2020
Dotson caught 8 passes for 108 yards, while Washington hauled in 4 passes for 95 yards and a pair of scores. If Dotson returns for his senior season, he, Washington and KeAndre Lambert-Smith should give Penn State one of the best wide receiver trios in the Big Ten next season.
Dotson also had an impressive 81-yard punt return touchdown. On the return he broke a tackle, made a few defenders miss and then just out ran the Spartan punt unit.
Wow. Jahan Dotson— Andrew Porterfield (@aporterfield7) December 12, 2020
YESSSSS— the S zone (@the_S_zone) December 12, 2020
JAHAN. DOTSON.— Kathryn Tague (@kathryntague) December 12, 2020
Jahan Dotson punt return brought a tear to this penn staters eye— Wolfgrey Amadeus (@VoyWhoCriedWolf) December 12, 2020
This made Dotson just the second player to ever return a punt for a touchdown in the Land Grant Trophy game, joining fellow Penn State wide receiver Bryant Johnson who did so in 2002.
It was also another productive game for Will Levis, both in the Falcon package and in regular offensive formations. Levis completed all three of his pass attempts for 54 yards, while he rushed for 36 yards and a touchdown.
As is the norm, Levis was physical. He ran over and through Michigan State defenders, and undoubtedly punished a few Spartans along the way.
I love will levis— Fox (@jfox2088) December 12, 2020
@will_levis just took an NFL level hit and shrugged it off like an NFL running back or maybe even a full back.— Patch Timney (@Patch_2951) December 12, 2020
Will Levis: 15 carries, 36 yards, 2 bottles of Avdil.— Mark Wogenrich (@MarkWogenrich) December 12, 2020
Will Levis is out here trucking people. Nice. #PennState— Michael Anderson (@Beastmike) December 12, 2020
Will Levis is basically Taysom Hill.— Matt Foreman (@FattMoreman) December 12, 2020
Will Levis is a fullback. Change my mind.— Nick Sherlock (@Nick_Sherlock) December 12, 2020
Will Levis runs with anger— Jarred Walp (@jaywalp) December 12, 2020
While the plan is for Penn State to play one more game next weekend that remains to be seen. If they do not it was great to see the Nittany Lions finish the season on a three-game winning streak. No matter what happens next weekend, James Franklin, his staff, and these players deserve a ton of credit for not folding up shop and punting on the rest of the season when they were 0-5. This strong finish will do nothing but build confidence and momentum entering the offseason.