If you were in need of some Holiday cheer, look no further than that 56-21 blizzard the Fighting Illini of Illinois ran into on Saturday. Penn State saved its best performance for last. No need to drag this on, Nittany Nation. No bowl game was the ultimate decision. In the end, a team that prides itself on being family-oriented walked the walk and chose family this Christmas with absolutely nothing left to prove. Can you feel the pride just beaming from all our blue and white hearts?
I could feel the weight being lifted off their shoulder’s midway through the third quarter on Senior Day last week. An offense that had been mired in purgatory somewhere between shades of trying to shed old ways and still struggling to get up to speed started showing signs of confidence as they went on to blast Sparty 29-3 in the second half. Sure enough, the dust had barely settled from the opening kickoff as Jahon ‘Smooth as Silk’ Dotson caught a 75-yard glide and weave touchdown on the first play of the game that set the tone for what was yet to come. Credit the Illini for hanging tough as both teams traded blows in what seemed like the longest first quarter ever recorded, but once our defense settled in, the romp was on.
Lamont Wade scampered his way to a 100-yard kickoff return to compliment Dotson’s punt return for a touchdown last week. Will Levis found his arm to go along with the sledgehammer he brings up the middle. Don’t think that won’t be an X-factor next season? Teams can stack the box and stop run all they want but they cannot stop both, that’s just simple math. Freshmen tight ends Theo Johnson and Brenton Strange have quickly eased our fear of losing Big Pat to the pros, and it was Strange that bulldozed and dove his way to one of the toughest touchdowns you’ll ever see.
Keyvonne Lee continued his trend of gaining the hard-earned yards and fellow true freshman Caziah Holmes announced his arrival by scoring his first two touchdowns as a Nittany Lion. Pardon them for taking time to get adjusted after losing the top two rushers before the season was barely off the ground. You better believe the Lawn Boyz legacy is alive and well! Likewise, on D the Iron Lions survived the first quarter flurry, dug their feet in, and made life miserable on an Illini offense that came in with nothing to lose. Young guns like Brandon Smith and Keaton Ellis gave us plenty to look forward to moving forward as the bend but don’t break defense turned up the inferno when it mattered most throughout the course of this four-game streak.
We began this most abnormal football season with Playoff visions dancing in our heads and soon found ourselves sinking in quicksand with no escape in sight. Faith was tested and pride suffered as week-to-week, we watched our beloved Nittany Lions slip further towards rock bottom. No one could have really blamed them if they threw in the towel and called it quits. If there were ever a year to do it, 2020 presented the ultimate mulligan. Instead, resiliency and perseverance won out. Adversity made us stronger and in a grand finale cloaked in white, that only mother nature could rival in place of 110-thousand rabid fans, it became clear that Happy Valley was going to be alright. In the end, Penn State football dropped the proverbial mic, chest out, head held high, and exited the stage with absolutely nothing left to prove!