No. 6 Penn State-Akron observations: Nittany Lions cruise in shutout

No. 6 Penn State-Akron observations: Nittany Lions cruise in shutout


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Saquon Barkley rushed 14 times for 172 yards and two touchdowns as No. 6 Penn State drubbed Akron 52-0 in its season opener Saturday in Beaver Stadium.

Trace McSorley also threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, and DeAndre Thompkins returned a punt 61 yards for a score. It was PSU’s first punt return TD since Derrick Williams took one 63 yards against Wisconsin in 2008.

Both of McSorley’s scoring passes went to tight end Mike Gesicki, who had six catches in all.

Nearly all of Penn State’s starters sat out the fourth quarter.

• Barkley was Barkley, scoring on runs of 30 and three yards. It also appeared he went 87 yards for a score in the second quarter, but it was ruled he stepped out at the seven – a play that was for some reason not subjected to replay review. His 30-yard TD later in the period was reviewed, even though he didn’t come anywhere near the sideline. He also caught three passes for 54 yards, including a 43-yarder in the third quarter that set up McSorley’s second scoring strike to Gesicki.

• McSorley overcame an early end-zone interception to go 18 for 25 for 280 yards through the air. He also ran 12 times for 48 yards.

• Thompkins returned four punts for 127 yards in all, an average of 31.8 yards a runback. Penn State’s punt returners averaged 6.5 yards per return last season.

• Tyler Davis missed a 38-yard field goal in the second quarter, his first real miss in 33 career attempts. His two previous misses had both been blocks. He rebounded to hit a career-long 47-yarder in the third quarter.

• For some reason, coach James Franklin felt compelled to use Barkley as his kickoff-return man to start the third quarter, at which point the Lions led 35-0. Seemed like sheer lunacy, given Barkley’s importance to the team.

• The Lions used backup quarterback Tommy Stevens as a running back in the second half. It was in that guise that he caught his first career pass, for a gain of seven yards. He later completed an option pass to DaeSean Hamilton after taking a handoff from McSorley going right. The Lions were leading 45-0 at the time, and perhaps not coincidentally, the Zips were called for personal fouls on two subsequent runs by Stevens, who took over at QB. The second, a targeting foul on defensive end Deon’Tae Moore, resulted in Moore’s ejection.

• As might be expected, PSU dominated the line of scrimmage. The new-look offensive line – Ryan Bates (Archbishop Wood), Steven Gonzalez, Connor McGovern, Brendan Mahon and Chasz Wright – helped the Lions pile up 255 rushing yards, and 577 yards in all. And the defense recorded 14 tackles for loss, including three sacks. Backup defensive end Ryan Buchholz (Great Valley) had 1.5 TFLs, including a sack. Buchholz saw extensive action when the starter, Shareef Miller (George Washington), departed after the first series with a leg injury. He did not return.

• Redshirt freshman defensive end Shaka Toney (Imhotep Charter), renowned for his quickness, saw the first action of his career in the second half, and on one pass rush drew a holding penalty from offensive tackle Jovann Letuli. He also jumped offsides later in the half.

• Hamilton, who finished with three catches for 74 yards, had a rough time in the first half. He had a drop on PSU’s fifth offensive snap, and two other balls – one of which would have gone for a TD – were either thrown a little behind him or a little high. He managed to get his hands on both, but he was unable to come down with either.

• Juwan Johnson (Glassboro, New Jersey) was as good as his preseason billing. Widely viewed as a breakout candidate entering the fall, the redshirt sophomore wide receiver had four catches for 84 yards in his first career start. 

• Saeed Blacknall was viewed as one of the Lions’ key receivers entering the season, but he was listed as the second-stringer behind Thompkins earlier in the week and saw a great deal of action in garbage time.

Penn State adds to its bragging rights over Temple

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Penn State adds to its bragging rights over Temple


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Josh Reaves had his second career double-double, Shep Garner hit two 3-pointers in the final three minutes and Penn State overcame an 11-point second-half deficit to beat Temple 63-57 on Wednesday night in the first round of the NIT.

Reaves shot 7 of 10 from the field, including a career-high tying four 3-pointers, and finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Tony Carr missed 10 consecutive field-goal attempts before scoring his first points of the game on a jumper that pulled Penn State within four with 6:20 to play. That sparked a 16-2 run to give the Nittany Lions a 62-54 lead with 16 seconds left.

Reaves and Garner hit back-to-back 3s to make it 54-all before John Harrar's layup with 1:52 remaining gave Penn State its first lead since 4-3. The Owls made just 1 of 9 from the field and committed three turnovers during the span.

Shizz Alston Jr. led Temple (17-16), which led for more than 35 minutes, with 15 points and Josh Brown added 14.

Carr and Garner -- who came in averaging 19.9 and 11.1 points per game, respectively -- combined to score 10 on 3-of-19 shooting for the Nittany Lions (22-13).

The Owls made just 5 of 14 free throws while Penn State hit 20 of 30.

It was the 93rd meeting between the schools, which are located less than 200 miles apart, but the first since 2011. The Nittany Lions snapped a seven-game skid in the series, dating to Dec. 9, 2000.

Penn State's NCAA tournament hopes severely dented

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Penn State's NCAA tournament hopes severely dented


NEW YORK — Purdue threw a little of everything at Penn State star Tony Carr, the Big Ten's leading scorer. Bigger guys. Smaller ones. Switches and some double teams.

Carr managed only 12 points in a woeful shooting game, and No. 8 Purdue separated from Penn State in the second half of a 78-70 victory Saturday that put the Boilermakers in the Big Ten Tournament championship game for the second time in three seasons.

Third-seeded Purdue (28-5) faces No. 5 Michigan, which will try to repeat as tournament champs on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

Purdue frustrated Carr and held him to 4-of-18 shooting. The sophomore faced an array of defenders, including the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Nojel Eastern, 5-10 P.J. Thompson, 6-4 Dakota Mathias, 6-8 Vincent Edwards and 6-1 Carsen Edwards.

"When you have a good player like that it takes more than one guy because he's able to make shots and make plays over guys," Vincent Edwards said. "They just did a good job of taking up that space and being able to force him into tough shots."

Shep Garner led the Nittany Lions (21-12) with a career-high 33 points and the senior set a school record with 129 career points in the Big Ten Tournament.

The Boilermakers will be making their third appearance in the Big Ten championship since the tournament started in 1998. Their one championship came in 2009.

Against Penn State, Purdue used a 12-2 run the middle of the second half to build a 15-point lead. Carsen Edwards led the way, spinning through the lane for a driving layup and making a 3 from up top that made the score 59-44 with 9:15 left. He finished with 27 points and shot 6 of 9 from 3-point range after scoring 26 on Friday against Rutgers.

"It's a consistency," guard Dakota Mathias said of Edwards. "He's being very efficient, too."

Edwards made back-to-back 3s to make it 74-56 with 3:41 left and Purdue was on its way to play for a title.

Isaac Haas, the 7-2 center, added 17 points and seven rebounds for Purdue.

With Carr struggling, Penn State could not keep up. He picked up a third foul in the second half, a push off call that caused Penn State coach Pat Chambers to draw a technical.

"I think they were very physical," Chambers said. "Obviously that's why I felt like I needed to get T'd up, my first T in a long, long time."

Big Picture
Penn State: The Nittany Lions had a chance to work their way into the conversation for an NCAA at-large bid by beating Purdue, but now Penn State seems like a long shot at best. Chambers is still hopefully.

"Well, I'm an optimist," he said. "We have NCAA Tournament talent."

Purdue: The Boilermakers hit a rough patch losing three straight close games in early February to Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin, but an argument can be made that they have been the Big Ten's most consistent team this season.

"We had an opportunity to win the Big Ten regular season. We kind of gave that away," said Thompson, one of four senior starters. "But we still had a goal of winning a Big Ten championship on our list before the season started and we put ourselves in position to be able to do that tomorrow."

Purdue does most everything well, except rebound. A night after giving up 17 offensive boards to Rutgers, the Boilermakers allowed 16 rebounds to Penn State.

Shep Shooter
Garner went 4 for 5 from 3-point range, including a four-point play, to carry Penn State in the first half. The Nittany Lions led much of the way, but Edwards made a 3 for Purdue with 2 seconds left in the half to send the Boilermakers to the break ahead 33-31.

Up Next
Penn State: An NIT bid is likely coming the Nittany Lions way, though the big question beyond March is whether Carr returns for another season or heads to the NBA draft.

Purdue: The Boilermakers swept the Wolverines in two games decided by a combined five points.

"Just a really skilled offensive team," Carsen Edwards said. "They have a lot of options. For us it's going to come down to defense and getting stops."