After a wild first quarter and weird second period, Penn State put together a complete second half in its 45-14 win over Indiana on Saturday at Beaver Stadium.
The No. 4 Nittany Lions scored twice on special teams, Saquon Barkley continued his ridiculous run to the Heisman Trophy, and a certain Nittany Lion grabbed hold of program history.
Player of the game
Wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton: The redshirt senior wide receiver made history on Saturday — and came up with three touchdown catches in the process.
Hamilton secured his 180th career reception, passing Deon Butler for the No. 1 spot on Penn State’s all-time charts. The 6-foot-1 target needed eight grabs entering Saturday, and he got them, finishing with nine catches for 122 yards.
Hamilton’s receptions were important, too.
His third catch on the afternoon was an eight-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, putting Penn State up 28-0. Hamilton’s record-tying snare was a 24-yard score that gave the Nittany Lions a 38-14 lead in the third quarter.
It was the first-ever multi-touchdown game for Hamilton, who’s played in all 45 contests in his collegiate career.
Allen’s forced fumble: Shortly after Tyler Davis drained a 45-yard field goal to put the Nittany Lions up 31-14 in the third quarter, Penn State safety Marcus Allen helped secure the “W.”
On the ensuing drive, Indiana was moving with a 23-yard completion into Nittany Lion territory — and then Allen popped the Hoosiers’ Devonte Williams. The back fumbled, and Parker Cothren recovered for the Nittany Lions. The extra Penn State possession resulted in Hamilton’s second touchdown catch — effectively finishing Indiana off.
Wide receiver Irvin Charles: He might not be making an impact on offense, but Charles was a force on special teams.
In Penn State’s first-quarter scoring blur, Charles helped put the Nittany Lions up 21-0. The 6-foot-4 wideout ran downfield like a bat out of hell at Indiana punt returner J-Shun Harris and ripped him down from behind. Charles stripped Harris, and Nick Scott scooped and scored from 13 yards out.
For a guy that was heralded last year by James Franklin as maybe the best receiver he’s ever been around, Charles hasn’t lived up to the hype offensively. But his play on special teams was invaluable for Penn State on Saturday.
To the house: We didn’t have to wait long for the highlight of the afternoon: How about the first play? There’s a reason why Saquon Barkley is returning kicks for Penn State; it’s because he can score any time he touches the ball. Barkley housed the opening kick 98 yards to give Penn State an early 7-0 lead.
As Barkley burst into the open field and made Indiana’s kicker look silly, it became obvious he was gone — and the Beaver Stadium crowd reacted as such. The press box shook as Barkley raced down the Indiana sideline toward the student section end zone. He was close to being caught by Hoosiers running back Devonte Williams at the 15-yard line, but Barkley powered through the diving arm tackle and finished off the remarkable moment.
Barkley broke a six-year drought in doing so, too. It was the first time since 2011 that Penn State returned a kickoff for a touchdown. And don’t be surprised if Barkley does it again at some point this season.
On the road again: After returning home to face the Hoosiers, the Nittany Lions are away from Beaver Stadium for the second time in a matter of three weeks. Penn State travels to Evanston, Ill., to square off with Northwestern. The Wildcats are 2-2 after losing to Wisconsin 33-24 on Saturday. The Wildcats, who led the Badgers at halftime, have had an interesting start to the 2017 season. Penn State and Northwestern kick at noon.