Toney Feasts On Pass-happy Indy

October 21, 2018 GMT

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — If nothing else, Penn State made Indiana one-dimensional. That made Shaka Toney a factor. The 241-pound defensive end had a fourth-quarter for the ages to help No. 18 Penn State seal a 33-28 win over Indiana at Memorial Stadium. He recorded four sacks in the quarter, forced a fumble that Indiana recovered and cost the Hoosiers 29 yards on critical drives. His seven-yard sack of quarterback Peyton Ramsey combined with a holding call to put the Hoosiers in a second-and-27 hole on their final desperation drive that could have given them the win. Toney said he has had stretches like that back in his high school days at Imhotep Charter, but few have ever had that kind of an outbreak of sacks at Penn State. “Our defensive line coach, Sean Spencer, put a lot of pressure on us to finish the game,” Toney said. “As a defensive line, we put a lot of pride in ourselves. Whether its sacks, (tackles for loss), whatever we have to do as a defensive line, we want to make sure that we’re going to finish games from now on.” While the Nittany Lions continued to struggle in some ways they’ve slumped in recent weeks, the defensive line had a reason to celebrate. They registered 20 of the 91 tackles Penn State piled up Saturday, seven tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and Toney and defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos combined for six sacks. Now, Toney said, the goal is to build on that success and achieve it consistently. “I’m just so excited for our defensive line that we stepped up in ways people might not have expected us to do,” Toney said. “There are a lot of critics out there. But I know our defensive line comes out there to play every day.” Lion’s share Coming back to his home state, Tommy Stevens made his biggest impact for the Nittany Lions this season. The so-called “Lion” in Penn State’s offense, Stevens threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to tight end Pat Freiermuth that helped Penn State tie the game at 14 in the second quarter. It was a well-designed play: Stevens lined up in the backfield to the left of quarterback Trace McSorley, before both shifted to the right, with Stevens under center. He took the snap, faked to McSorley going back to his left, which drew the attention of the defense long enough for Freiermuth to work his way open and Stevens to drop a perfectly thrown ball into his hands. “We want to get Tommy involved in our game plan,” head coach James Franklin said. “We’ve had some stuff like that in the game plan each week he has been available, so obviously for him, I think he had 65 tickets for the game and a bunch of family members here.” Stevens starred as a prep quarterback about an hour outside of Bloomington at Decatur Central High School in Indianapolis. On or off target? Penn State lost safety Garrett Taylor in the second half when he was ejected for targeting after a helmet-to-helmet hit on Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. in the second half. The ruling means Taylor will miss the first half of Saturday’s return to Beaver Stadium against Iowa, as well. Taylor’s helmet clearly made contact with Penix’s helmet — the freshman didn’t return to the game, but Allen said it was due to a leg injury suffered on the play — but Franklin still seemed to disagree with the idea that it was intentional helmet-to-helmet contact worthy of an ejection. “We don’t want to see anybody take that type of a hit, ever,” Franklin said. “But to me, there’s a big difference between a launch and targeting of a defenseless player and the targeting of a ballcarrier who drops his pads and his helmet and a defender trying to do the same thing to make a tackle.” Nittany notes McSorley’s FBS-best streak of games with a touchdown pass ended at 34 in a row, even though he did score two rushing touchdowns. ... Receiver Juwan Johnson suffered an apparent leg injury on a 59-yard catch-and-run in the second half and didn’t return ot the game. ... Freshman kicker Jake Pinegar connected on field goals of 27 and 32 yards but also had an extra point blocked. ... In the latest in a series of numbers changes to honor injured players, Nittany Lions defensive tackle Antonio Shelton switched from his typical No. 55 to No. 53 this week, honoring freshman Fred Hansard. Hansard was ruled out for the season this week after surgery to repair an injury suffered against Michigan State. Contact the writer: dcollins@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9125 @psubst on Twitter