Penn State improved their record to 8-2 with a 35-6 victory vs. Rutgers on Saturday. After a dreadful opening quarter, Penn State scored twice in the second period to take a 14-6 lead into the break. On the Lions' second possession of the half, they drove down the field and pulled out a play not yet seen. Moorhead called for a gutsy hook and ladder play in the redzone to Saquon Barkley that advanced the ball to the one yard line. Two plays later, Penn State scored and essentially put the game out of reach.
Penn State was facing a 3rd and 9 from the Rutgers 15 when Moorhead rolled the dice. On Trace McSorley’s right were wide receivers Saeed Blacknall, who was split wide, and DaeSean Hamilton, who was in the slot. Tight end Mike Gesicki also lined up on the right side and Saquon Barkely in the backfield. The play started like one Penn State has run many times - a wide receiver rocket screen to Hamilton. Rutgers came out in press coverage look which was exactly what Moorhead expected. You aren't suppose to run rocket screens against press coverage, because it's unlikely the blockers will get there in time.
On the snap, Blacknall ran a clear-out route to take his defender out of the flat, while Hamilton ran his stutter-step rocket screen to perfection. Barkley stepped up in the pocket as if he was going to take on a blitzing defender, while Gesicki ran right at Hamilton's defender to throw a block. However, while McSorley was dumping off the screen to Hamilton, Barkley let the blitzer pass and sneaked into the flat five yards behind Hamilton's route.
The traditional rocket screen design calls for Mike Gesicki to block the slot corner, but this time, he blew past him, allowing both his defender and the slot corner to think they had Hamilton dead to rights. Neither were aware that Barkley had released from the backfield and was in position for one of the oldest trick plays in football - the hook and ladder.
Barkley had plenty of space to receive the perfect pitch from Hamilton, and suddenly Penn State's best player had the ball in a familiar one-on-one spot with safety Kiy Hester. Anyone watching knew what was coming next as Hester did what many defensive backs have tried and that was to go low on the powerful Barkley.
For Hester, he will have a spot on the Saquon Barkley career highlight reel and joins a growing number of players that Barkley has hurdled.
Barkley was eventually brought down at the one yard line and two plays later, he got the touchdown he deserved to put Penn State up 21-6 and calm the nerves of fans who were still restless after the slow start.
With only two games remaining in the season, we are likely nearing the end of Saquon Barkley’s illustrious college football career. He has been an absolute joy to watch because when he has the ball in space, you get to the edge of your seat just waiting for something spectacular to happen. No player has been more instrumental to the success of the last two seasons than him so let’s enjoy the time remaining because we may never see anything like him ever again.