There was something different about Parker Washington when he bounced up to the deafening roar of the Beaver Stadium White Out crowd. Washington had just helped put Penn State up 24-10 aginst Minnesota in the third quarter by high-pointing and plucking the ball from the air despite tight coverage. By the time he popped up, he looked like someone who was ready to claim the go-to receiver spot that had eluded the offense thus far.
He proved that to be the case on Saturday with a scintillating performance against the Buckeyes. It wasn’t just a big day for Washington - and boy was it big - but it seemed like the third-year receiver stepped up with a big play whenever it was needed the most.
Washington helped the Nittany Lions pick up two first downs on their initial drive, which unfortunately ended with a tipped pass that was intercepted by the Buckeyes. The early turnovers put Penn State in an extremely dangerous spot down 10-0. It seemed as if any moment Ohio State could jump out to a 17-0 lead that would turn really ugly from there.
However, Washington wasn’t about to let that happen. Penn State got the ball back to start the first quarter, and he began things with a 14-yard reception on first down. A few plays later, Sean Clifford looked Washington’s way on third down. Washington not only managed to catch the ball, but spin his way out of two tackles before racing 58 yards for a touchdown. It was one of the key plays of the first half - possibly the biggest - as it helped Penn State remain in a game that looked as if it could be doomed before it even got started thanks to two early turnovers.
Washington followed that up with an acrobatic third down catch that you had to study in slow-motion and still be unsure of how he managed to catch it. It was the type of catch that many Big Ten receivers will never make throughout their careers, and those watching us at home could only dream of. A few plays later, Clifford would find KeAndre Lambert-Smith in the end zone to give Penn State a 14-10 lead.
He kept coming up with catch after catch as Penn State gave its all to try to earn the massive upset. Whenever a play was needed, Clifford looked to Washington to deliver over and over. He delivered first downs when needed. He was a security blanket when Clifford was under heavy duress. And when Penn State needed one more big play, Clifford stepped up with a 26-yard catch that helped the Nittany Lions march down the field to claim a 21-16 lead in the fourth quarter.
The Nittany Lions came up short, but Washington left everything he had on the Beaver Stadium turf that day. He finished the game with 11 catches for 179 yards and a score.