STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – After DaeSean Hamilton scored a touchdown on the reception that enabled him to tie the Penn State record for most career catches, he saw the penalty flag on the ground and the officials convening for a conference.
“I was sweating bullets. I was hoping and praying they wouldn’t call it back,” Hamilton said Saturday of the 24-yard pass from Trace McSorley in the third quarter that featured jostling between him and Indiana defender Jonathan Crawford before the catch.
But the officials picked up the flag and Hamilton had catch No. 179, tying Deon Butler’s school record. The redshirt senior would have two more catches in the fourth-ranked Nittany Lions’ 45-14 win to finish with 181 for his career, and a personal-best three touchdowns on the day.
“I wasn’t keeping track or anything,” said Hamilton, who finished with nine receptions for 122 yards. “I was just trying to make plays. The ball was coming my way. I didn’t know if I was going to get [the record] today or later on this year, so I wasn’t worried about it.”
Coach James Franklin said he made “a really big deal” out of the record after the game in the locker room.
“He has had a great career, has been a great leader, a great teammate, and a great student,” Franklin said. “They’ve been playing football at Penn State for a long time. There has been a bunch of really good players, so whenever you can say you’re the all-time leader at Penn State, that’s pretty special.”
Franklin not satisfied
Franklin will take the win, but he admitted some areas need improvement.
One problem was the NIttany Lions’ field goal kicking. Tyler Davis went 1 for 3, making a 45-yarder but missing from 21 and having a 42-yard attempt blocked. Davis, who had missed just two of 32 field goal attempts the previous two years, is 5 for 11 this season.
“We need to get the field goal situation cleaned up,” Franklin said. “That is unacceptable and I’m not pleased with it at all.
“I don’t want this to come off the wrong way – we are going to enjoy winning around here, but there are still some things we have to be honest with ourselves about and get cleaned up.”
One example was the run game, as Penn State gained just 39 yards. That number was influenced by sacks; the Hoosiers got to Trace McSorley five times for 34 yards in losses.
Saquon Barkley didn’t exactly dazzle his teammates with his passing ability during the week of practice when offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead installed a pass play for him to throw to Hamilton.
“It just didn’t go well,” Barkley said. “How do I explain it? Let’s say the ball kind of got caught in my hand and hit the ground before it hit Ham. That’s the best way I can describe that play.”
But the play worked to perfection on Saturday. Barkley took a pitch to the right from McSorley and tucked the ball under his arm before passing it to Hamilton, who went the final eight yards of a 16-yard TD play.
“I’ve got to thank JoeMo for trusting me,” Barkley said of Moorhead. “All of our signalers were kind of laughing on the sideline [before the play]. Trace was just like, ‘You got it, you got it. Let it go.’”
Tight end Mike Gesicki, the team’s second-leading receiver behind Barkley, left the game after taking a hard hit in the second quarter and did not return.
The team does not comment on injuries, but the Penn State training staff appeared to be working on Gesicki’s upper body. The big senior caught three passes for 19 yards on the day.