STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – After sitting out the entire 2017 season with a knee injury, Penn State cornerback John Reid is starting to play like himself again.
The former St. Joseph's Prep standout set up a Penn State touchdown Saturday with an interception and 44-yard return in the second quarter. He also had three pass breakups, a quarterback hurry, and was part of a gang tackle on the last play that secured the Nittany Lions' 30-24 victory over Iowa.
It's been a gradual improvement for Reid, who struggled in the first month and missed the Lions' Week 2 game against Pittsburgh with an unspecified injury.
"I've just kind of been staying the course, working hard, staying focused, doing the same preparation, always trying to improve more," Reid said. "But it's a blessing to be able to make the plays. I'm praying all the time for moments like this. I knew what happened, and I was really confident. My teammates were confident in me. So I'm just grateful."
Reid returned his interception to the 3-yard line. He tried to dive for the left pylon but was knocked out of bounds by 320-pound offensive tackle Tristan Wilfs.
"That dude was big," Reid said with a smile. "He crushed me. I tried to, though."
Close calls going way back
The Nittany Lions made some history Saturday, playing their fourth consecutive game that was decided by six points or less. They last did that in 1894, against the likes of Navy, Bucknell, Washington & Jefferson, and Oberlin, going 3-0-1 in those games.
"We face different challenges and have to work through different things," quarterback Trace McSorley said. "Now that we've kind of gone through those barriers and figured that out, we're able to learn from it and continue to grow and be ready for whatever challenges come next."
Head coach James Franklin, however, didn't fully embrace a question about what the win meant to his team, especially with No. 5 Michigan coming up next week.
"It's not that dramatic," he said. "That's it. We're happy to be 1-0."
Where did that dude go?
One moment, defensive end Shareef Miller thought he had the game-ending sack of Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley. The next thing he knew, Wilfs was running with the football.
Before he went down, Stanley lateraled the ball to his offensive tackle, who made it as far as the Penn State 29 before he was gang-tackled.
"All I know is, when I hit him, I don't know," the former George Washington High School star said. "The guy I beat, he ended up with the ball. I don't know why. I've got to watch the film.
"They were saying he pitched it, and I'm thinking there's no way he pitched it. We're going to see it on film. I was wondering what was going on, to be honest with you."
Franklin began his post-game remarks by remembering the victims of the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh earlier Saturday.
"The first thing I would like to do is put things in perspective, so I would like to take a moment for the families and victims in Pittsburgh," he said. "We are thinking about them. Obviously, an exciting football game, but we have tragic events that happen in our country right now that do not make a lot of sense.