McSorley reaches milestones
PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Trace McSorley became just the third player in Big Ten history to reach 100 career touchdowns Saturday, joining Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett and Purdue’s Drew Brees.
McSorley also won his 30th game as a starting quarterback, the most in Penn State history, breaking the previous mark of 29 shared by Todd Blackledge and Tony Sacca.
McSorley admitted he did not have a good day throwing the ball, completing just 17-of-37 passes for 183 yards, two TDs and one interception. But he still etched his name in the record books as Penn State beat Rutgers, 20-7.
McSorley now has 101 career touchdowns, running and throwing. Barrett has the Big Ten record with 147, while Brees is second with 106, a figure McSorley should break with two games left in the season.
“It’s an accomplishment I’ll be able to look back on when I’m done,” McSorley said. “It’s a lot on my teammates. I’m not able to do any of that without them. A lot of those are passes, so there’s always someone catching it. Someone’s always got to be doing their job, offensive line’s got to be protecting. So that’s a team thing in my eyes.”
Parsons starts at linebacker
True freshman Micah Parsons got his first career start at linebacker Saturday, in place of Cam Brown. It turns out, however, that Brown was suspended for the first half, and he was back out on the field in the second half.
“We had a situation, a small violation of team rules,” coach James Franklin said of Brown.
Freiermuth continues to impress
Tight end Pat Freiermuth caught three passes for 47 yards and two touchdowns Saturday, continuing what has been a very impressive season for the true freshman. He leads the team with six touchdown catches and is second in receptions (22) and yards (303).
“The year he’s put together has been really impressive,” Franklin said.
“He is big, he is strong, he is physical, he’s got great body control. He can contort his body in different positions and come down with the ball.”
The Lions lost the most productive tight end in school history in Mike Gesicki to the NFL this year, but Freiermuth is much further ahead in his development than Gesicki was as a true freshman.
“He’s playing at a very, very high level,” Franklin said.
Penn State’s most likely bowl destinations continue to be the Peach Bowl or the Citrus Bowl. Had Maryland beaten Ohio State on Saturday, it potentially could have opened up a spot in the Rose Bowl, depending on other factors.
If PSU is chosen for the Peach Bowl, a New Year’s Six game, potential opponents include LSU, West Virginia and UCF. If it’s the Citrus Bowl, the likely opponent would be either Kentucky or Florida.
Rutgers gives quality effort
The Scarlet Knights were 28-point underdogs, yet lost by just 13. Their defense did a solid job on Penn State for much of the day, but the offense just couldn’t get enough going to make things interesting.
“Our players played with a lot of fight and effort and toughness today,” coach Chris Ash said of his team on senior day. “It’s what we needed to do to continue to try to close the gap, and our players did that. The game is about taking care of the football, and some missed opportunities. That was the difference in the game.”
Ash had to bench starting quarterback Artur Sitkowski after he threw two first-half interceptions, raising his season total to 18, which leads the nation.
“We’ve got to take care of the football,” Ash said. “You talk about the plan to win, we’ve got to take care of the football. With three turnovers in the game, and we had some missed opportunities.”
One of those missed opportunities was backup quarterback Giovanni Rescigno dropping an easy touchdown catch on a trick play.
“You score there, who knows? It changes everything,” Ash said. “I think the sideline in the stadium was ready to explode if we finished that. That was a tough one.”
News and notes
P Blake Gillikin had a huge day, booming a 70-yard kick with the wind and averaging 48.7 yards on six kicks. … Injured WR Juwan Johnson was on the trip but was not dressed for the game. … Hamler led PSU with five receptions for 71 yards, while freshman Jahan Dotson had four catches for 58 yards.
— Compiled by Cory Giger