STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Journey Brown was a state 100-meter champion who broke Leroy Burrell’s high-school record in the sprint. So the fact that he was caught from behind on an 85-yard run Saturday against Pittsburgh in the first quarter made him the subject of some teasing by his teammates.
“I haven’t heard the last of it,” the redshirt sophomore said with a smile. “I’ll probably hear it until we get locked in for the next game. But I’m prepared for it.”
Brown’s dash, the second-longest in team history that did not result in a touchdown, set up Devyn Ford’s 1-yard run for the first touchdown in the Nittany Lions’ 17-10 victory. In his first start for Penn State, Brown finished with a career-high 109 yards on 10 carries.
“I always prepare like I’m the starter, so I came out and did my same routine,” he said. “Of course, I felt a little bit of excitement knowing my name was going to be on the big [video] screen, but once the game started, I locked in, and it just felt like another day.”
Former Frankford High star Blair Thomas had a 92-yard run against Syracuse in 1986, Penn State’s record for the longest non-touchdown scamper.
Trash-talking was present, and the hits were made with a little more purpose. What else would you expect from Penn State vs. Pitt, the 100th chapter?
“That’s football,” Nittany Lions receiver KJ Hamler said. “I can’t really describe it any way else. That happens in football. There’s going to be some trash talk. There’s going to be a lot of extra stuff after the play, talking trash, or more blocking, or more physical things.”
Hamler called games like this “more gritty games.”
“I think they’re way more fun,” he said, “especially since a lot of people on our team know a lot of people on their team, or are from the same area, or stuff like that, stuff of that nature.
“So, just going up against your boys and against some dudes you played against in camps and stuff like that. I think it was a great experience. Games like that are games you want to play.”
The Penn State pass rush was unable to get to Pitt quarterback Kenny Pickett in the first half. Even though they got him for three sacks in the second half, Pickett still completed 35 of 51 passes for 372 yards, and James Franklin wasn’t happy with the lack of pressure.
“We have to get to the quarterback more consistently,” the head coach said. “We came into the season really feeling like that would be a strength of ours, and it hasn’t necessarily showed up that way. We’ll study that and make sure we’re doing the right things, because I think we have the guys to do it, but we haven’t gotten the pressure.”
The Nittany Lions had just one sack a week earlier against Buffalo. Defensive end Shaka Toney (Imhotep Charter) had one of Saturday’s sacks.
Redshirt sophomore Jordan Stout, who has boomed 24 of 25 kickoffs through the end zone for touchbacks, added to his legend with a program-record 57-yard field goal with 1 second remaining in the first half.
With his second 50-yard-plus field goal of the season, Stout, a transfer from Virginia Tech, broke the mark of former Neshaminy High School star Chris Bahr, who kicked three field goals of 55 yards in the 1975 season.
“And he went to my high school,” Franklin, also a Neshaminy High grad, said of Bahr.
Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi was asked whether Stout’s field goal “took the wind out of your sails.”