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Stevens Adds Offensive Edge in Shutout

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State football put on a spectacular offensive display Saturday, showcasing its arsenal of options to cruise past Georgia State in its nonconference finale under the lights in front of more than 102,000 fans at Beaver Stadium. 

With touchdowns from eight different Nittany Lions for the first time since a 70-24 win against Akron in 1999, Penn State saw records fall as the points piled up. 

Let's get right into a few of the highlights.

Following the 56-0 shutout win to mark Penn State's first season with two shutouts since 2007, running back Andre Robinson (who accounted for touchdown No. 8 with a career-long 41-yard run), noted that among the familiar four-quarter team instructions, the Nittany Lions were particularly focused on a finishers mentality headed into game three.

Alongside the always resilient Saquon Barkley though, perhaps no better example of a unique ability to finish, shined through Saturday night in quarterback Tommy Stevens. Stevens, who finished 2-for-4 with 43 passing yards and a touchdown also grabbed two receptions for 19 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown catch.

As the first Nittany Lion with a touchdown pass and reception in the same game since Christian Hackenberg in 2015, Stevens was calm as he smiled postgame, noting he was simply doing what he was asked to do to put Penn State in the best position to win.

"I think my teammates give me a great chance, and the coaches included, give me a great chance to be successful, so I'm doing whatever I can to help the team win," Stevens said. 

Insert exhibit one, where Stevens caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Trace McSorley out of a two quarterback package that pushed the Nittany Lions out to an early first quarter lead. 

Stevens' touchdown of course, was the first of eight for the Nittany Lions, followed then by Barkley's 85-yard catch and run score for the third-longest pass play in Penn State history and the longest Penn State passing play ever at home.

While it's seemingly not to anyone's surprise that Barkley could make as many defenders miss blasting his was to the end zone as he does on a regular basis, it's all part of the details for Barkley.

"It was kind of just a feel," Barkley said. "I kind of thought that Trace was going to lose me and that me sliding would help. I thought Trace did an unbelievable job of using his eyes and coming down to a check-down. It was kind of weird. He looked away from me at first and I thought that he was going to go down field and just naturally turned around and did what we work on. He goes through his reads, his one, two, and three and checks down. It's just something that we work on every single day in practice and he just naturally came down to me. I was able to get one-on-one and find a way to score and get into the end zone. Brandon Polk and all of the wide receivers did an unbelievable job of blocking down field for me." 

"The fact that we had eight different players scoring is something that's huge for our offense and for our team," McSorley said. "It really puts the defense in a situation where you can't focus in on one guy and all of the weapons that we have and be able to have success with them, it's something that we feel is a huge benefit for us and we want to take advantage of it as best as we can."

Getting back to Stevens though, exhibit two came in the fourth quarter, when McSorley hit Stevens for a 9-yard grab before the Nittany Lions closed out the drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Stevens to wide receiver Saeed Blacknall to widen the advantage to 49-0.

While Stevens was humble postgame with a business-as-usual type approach, McSorley saw Stevens' impact a critical piece to the Nittany Lion offense.   

"You see Tommy being able to come out and be a receiver, be a running threat, be able to take a handoff or throw the ball, it's something that a lot of players in this country aren't able to do," McSorley said. "For him to be that type of player for our team is something that, it gives us a huge option from that package, being able to have two quarterbacks in there. Being able to run our offense but also being able to have those gadget plays getting him the ball in certain situations be able to throw it and run it." 

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