DaeSean Hamilton sets Penn State receiving record, Saquon Barkley has another big game in rout of Indiana
UNIVERSITY PARK –– Veteran receiver DaeSean Hamilton set a Penn State record Saturday when he hauled in his 180th career reception, passing Deon Butler for the most in program history.
The grab came in the fourth quarter with the game all but decided when quarterback Trace McSorley found Hamilton for a 25-yard catch. The Nittany Lions (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) routed Indiana, 45-14. The blowout win over the Hoosiers (2-2, 0-2 Big Ten) came a week after the Nittany Lions beat Iowa on a touchdown pass as time expired.
“When I was coming out of high school,” Hamilton said, “my friend's would ask me, ‘Do you plan on staying three years or four years?' And I said, ‘Four, because I want to break school records.'
“When I redshirted, I never thought anything this crazy or anything this magical would happen. But I'm glad it did.”
Hamilton came to Penn State with an injury that forced him to redshirt the 2013 season. He led the Big Ten with 82 catches in 2014 before his production diminished in his sophomore and junior campaigns. He had a key drop against Pitt in 2016 that likely would have given the Nittany Lions the win in their eventual 42-39 loss.
Still, heading into the season, Hamilton was viewed as the leader of the receiving corps and Penn State's most-established target after Chris Godwin departed for the NFL.
Hamilton's performance against the Hoosiers solidified his place among the program's greatest all-time receivers. He finished with nine catches for 122 yards and three touchdowns. It was his first career multi-touchdown game.
“They've been playing football at Penn State for a long time,” coach James Franklin said. “There's been a bunch of really good players. Whenever you can say you're the all-time leader at Penn State, that's pretty special.”
Hamilton's first score came on an 8-yard catch late in the first quarter to give his team a four-touchdown lead. He hauled in a 24-yard pass from Trace McSorley in the third quarter for his 179th career reception to tie Butler.
Running back Saquon Barkley padded his Heisman resume when he threw Hamilton's final touchdown grab, a 16-yard score.
Franklin understood the dangers of sending his best player back to return kickoffs, but he thought the risk was worth the reward of getting Barkley the ball with room to run. Barkley returned the opening kickoff 98 yards for the Nittany Lions' first touchdown.
The return kick-started the Nittany Lions as they jumped out to a 28-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. It was Penn State's first kickoff return touchdown since 2011.
“They did an unbelievable job blocking,” Barkley said of his return. “If you watch the film, those guys washed it down, got me one-on-one with the kicker, and that's what we preach here in our kickoff return room.
“I had to do my part, but those guys did an unbelievable job.”
Notes: Tight end Mike Gesicki left the game with an undisclosed injury with about two minutes left in the first half and didn't return. No update on his condition was available. ... In addition to Barkley's score on the kickoff return, Nick Scott returned a fumbled punt for a touchdown after Irvin Charles knocked the ball loose. ... Kicker Tyler Davis missed his fifth and sixth field goals this season and is now 5 for 11 overall. Davis missed two field goals in 24 attempts last season, both of which were blocked. Franklin called the field-goal unit's performance this season “unacceptable” after the game.
Matt Martell is a freelance writer.