Trace McSorley leads Penn State to easy victory over Georgia State
STATE COLLEGE — Trace McSorley came out firing in Penn State's 56-0 win over Georgia State on Saturday night, a stark turnaround from his inconsistent performance last week against Pitt.
McSorley went 18 for 23 with 309 yards and four touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. He set a Penn State (3-0) record with 258 first-half passing yards.
“Obviously, we were able to come out with the win (against Pitt), but I felt that I didn't do what I needed to do to really put our team in the best position,” McSorley said. “This week in practice it was just getting back to settling my feet down, finishing through all my throws and being accurate with ball placement.”
The redshirt junior completed his first six passes on the Nittany Lions' opening drive, which resulted in a 10-yard pass to backup quarterback Tommy Stevens.
The Nittany Lions seem committed to getting Stevens involved in their already versatile offense. Stevens has lined up at tailback in each of the team's three games, and based on the success the offense has had with him on the field, it appears offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead will continue to use him in select packages.
“With JoMo and the football mind that he is, he's going to continue to come up with new ways to be able to get Tommy on the field,” McSorley said. “It's hard to really say how much we've already seen because JoMo could have a whole 100 percent more plays that we haven't even called yet.”
The next Penn State touchdown came late in the first quarter when McSorley flipped a check-down pass to running back Saquon Barkley, who tip-toed the sideline before sprinting into the end zone for an 85-yard score, the longest of his career.
“In open space, I can't imagine there's a more explosive, dangerous player in space than (Barkley),” coach James Franklin said.
Barkley caught four passes for 142 yards and had 47 yards on 10 carries. He and McSorley were pulled midway through the third quarter when Penn State led 42-0. Eight Penn State players scored touchdowns.
The Nittany Lions forced five turnovers and recorded their second shutout of the season. Grant Haley picked off his second pass of the year, the fifth of his career, and Marcus Allen and true freshman Tariq Castro-Fields snagged the first interceptions of their careers.
“I talked to my father two days before the game, and I said, ‘Dad, I swear, I promise you I'm going to get an interception before I leave Penn State,' ” Allen said. “I'm really happy. It feels like my birthday.”
The fifth-ranked Nittany Lions have outscored opponents 141-14 in their three games this year.
Matt Martell is a freelance writer.