Rapid reaction: Penn State's defense stifles Rutgers to end home season with a win
Why would it be any different on Senior Day?
Through most of the season, Penn State has relied heavily on its defense to put tallies in the win column. The same thing happened again on Saturday in front of a Senior Day crowd as the Nittany Lions coasted to a 28-0 victory over Rutgers in Happy Valley.
Offense was essentially non-existent through the first 30 minutes for both teams. Part of that struggle on the Penn State side came because of Sean Clifford’s departure, heading into the locker room in the first quarter. It took a little time for Christian Veilleux to get into a rhythm, forcing the Nittany Lions to lean on their defense.
Finally, with 1 minute to play before halftime, Penn State struck gold. Veilleux hit Jahan Dotson in the back of the end zone for an 8-yard touchdown pass to give the Nittany Lions a 7-0 advantage heading into the break.
It was more of the same in the third quarter, with Penn State not getting back into the end zone until the 3:32 mark of the period. That was another toss from Veilleux, this time to Parker Washington to give the home team a 2-touchdown advantage.
That essentially sealed the deal.
Penn State added 2 more touchdowns to their total in the fourth quarter to make the final score even more lopsided. It was a very convincing win for the final home game of the 2021 campaign.
Rutgers’ offense was stifled the entire game, totaling just 165 yards for the contest. The Scarlet Knights completed just 13-of-28 passes for 93 yards and racked up only 72 yards on 31 carries.
The Scarlet Knights had just 10 first downs and converted on only 4-of-15 opportunities on third down.
Veilleux performed admirably in relief of Clifford. He ended the game throwing for 235 yards and 3 touchdowns while completing 15-of-24 passes. He also rushed for 36 yards on 10 carries.
Washington had 6 catches for 72 yards to lead the way for the receiver. Dotson totaled 3 grabs for 52 yards and a touchdown and Malick Meiga’s lone reception was a 67-yard touchdown haul.
Keyvone Lee led the Lions on the ground with 41 yards.
Penn State’s win over Rutgers marks the second time it has shut out Rutgers since the Scarlet Knights joined the conference in 2014. The other was a 39-0 win in 2016.
Rutgers has never scored more than 10 points against the Nittany Lions since joining the league.
Penn State still has a chance at an 8-win season if it can take down Michigan State on the road next Saturday. Rutgers will need a victory over Maryland next weekend to get to 6-6 and go bowling.