Penn State football produced its annual spring showcase on Saturday afternoon at a rainy – then not – Beaver Stadium. And the Nittany Lions did it in highly efficient fashion.
Needing well under its TV-allotted two hour window, Penn State saw its Blue team top the White team, 10-0. Largely comprised of projected starters against second- and third-team offensive and defensive players, the exercise saw a bevy of nice plays on both sides of the ball.
Here, we look at the players and plays that stood out the most in our highs and lows section:
Penn State Blue-White Game Highs and Lows
PLAYER OF THE GAME In a receivers room demanding clarity this spring, Omari Evans emerged as a player to watch. Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium, the rising sophomore put that notion on display for Penn State fans. He made a game-high five receptions for 80 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown in the first half.
PLAY OF THE GAME Patient in the pocket, Drew Allar connected with Evans for a 28-yard touchdown before the end of the first quarter, delivering a 7-0 lead for the Blue team.
BEST PASS Under duress in the final minute of the third quarter, Allar kept his poise and eyes downfield, connecting with Evans for a 19-yard gain and a first down.
BEST RUN Tank Smith delivered the only “big” run of the afternoon for either side, rumbling upfield for a first down on a 13-yard carry early in the fourth quarter for the Blue team. The play moved his side into the fringe red zone.
BEST CATCH Midway through the second quarter, quarterback Beau Pribula set-up Evans down the left sideline with a double-clutch. The move freed the sophomore receiver for a beautiful 22-yard pick-up, capped with a great play on the ball.
Nittany Lions emerge unscathed from Blue-White Game
WORST DROP Penn State true freshman quarterback Jaxson Smolik and his center, Nick Dawkins, couldn’t connect on a first-down snap late in the first half. The resulting fumble sent the White team backwards 11 yards, ultimately setting up a Mitchell Groh punt.
BEST SACK Allar didn’t stand a chance. Working to move the ball quickly downfield in a two-minute drill, leading the White team 10-0, Zuriah Fisher offered an abrupt awakening. Turning the corner toward a blindsided Allar, the redshirt junior secured the game’s first sack, though technically not permitted to bring the sophomore quarterback to the ground on the play.
BEST HIT He didn’t actually get a tackle on the play. But, on the second offensive possession of the afternoon for Penn State’s Blue team, Dani Dennis-Sutton barreled untouched into the backfield to unload on Kaytron Allen. Good news, Allar kept the ball on the read to pick up a first down.
BEST EFFORT Forgoing an opportunity for a spike and a last-second field goal attempt at the end of the first half (a contender for “worst decision” if James Franklin’s fiery reaction to Mike Yurcich is any indication), the Blue team still generated something out of the play. A pump fake from Allar set up Tyler Johnson, who made a beautiful leaping grab for a 24-yard completion.
Penn State football superlatives
BEST KICK Stalled midway through the second quarter, the Blue team settled for a field goal at the 12-yard line. Lining up from the left hash, transfer Alex Felkins sent through the 22-yard attempt cleanly to give his side a 10-0 advantage.
WORST KICK Alex Bacchetta showed off the two sides of his brief career with the Nittany Lions thus far. Though he was able to secure an inside the 20 attempt early in the game, he also produced a shanked 24-yarder late in the first half that went out of bounds.
BEST DECISION It wouldn’t be the Blue-White Game Highs and Lows without an acknowledgement and appreciation for the running clock. A beautiful reason to get everyone together each spring for a football snack, the event’s efficiency is just as important as the exercise itself.
WORST DECISION See “Most Telling Moment” for a recap of a momentary lapse in judgment for Evans.
MOST TELLING MOMENT Called for an unsportsmanlike conduct after his touchdown reception, dancing in the end zone, Evans had penance to pay.
Franklin called the receiver to the goal line with strength coordinator Chuck Losey, where he proceeded to do 35 up-downs while still gassed from the play. When he finally finished a few minutes later, Evans made his way over to Franklin in the middle of the field, who offered both correction and encouragement to the rising sophomore receiver, wrapping the talk with a few pats on the helmet.
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