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Nittany Lions' big second half crushes Purdue, 62-24

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Saquon Barkley ran for 207 yards and two touchdowns, Trace McSorley threw three scoring passes, and the Nittany Lions used a 24-point third quarter as the centerpiece of their 62-24 victory against Purdue.

From trap game to statement win in a matter of minutes, Penn State's 62-24 win over Purdue on Saturday was more crucial than some fans may have considered it.

And it all happened in the third quarter.

After overcoming rival Ohio State in an emotionally draining game in front of wild home crowd last weekend, a road test against the 'better-than-their' record Boilermakers seemed to have all the makings of a trap game for James Franklin's Nittany Lions.

"We talked about that all week long," Franklin said. "But I wasn't worried about the last game carrying over, I was worried about going from the whiteout, which is as good of an environment in all of college football."

For much of the first half, Penn State hardly resembled the team that took down the former-No. 2 in the country. They more closely resembled a team that was easily falling into a trap game, trailing for some of the second quarter before tying it up at 17 apiece right before halftime.

"We knew we were going to have a battle," Franklin said. "We were able to come in at halftime, and I don't want to say we're a second half team because we're trying to change that... but today it helped us to come in and tell the guys 'don't worry and stick to the plan, we're a second half team and will make adjustments'."

Those second half adjustments paid dividends immediately for the Nittany Lions, as reserve linebacker Brandon Smith picked off Purdue quarterback David Blough's pass on their third play of the drive.

Smith, who has stepped up time and time again this season in the wake of injuries that have struck the Penn State linebacking corp, received high praise from Franklin after the game.

"Brandon has really good football intelligence, he has really good instincts," Franklin said. "Not only that, but you saw his athleticism. After he caught the ball he was able to make a good run, break some tackles. What an awesome story that is. Last year, we had [Carl] Nassib and this year we have B-Smith doing wonderful things. It’s awesome, it’s awesome.”

On the Lions ensuing drive, wide receiver Chris Godwin hauled in his second touchdown of the day, which proved to be the busting open of the flood gates. After Smith's interception, Penn State closed the game on a 45-7 drive in the final two quarters, largely thanks to timely plays made by the opportunistic defense and special teams unit, who combined for a season-high four takeaways.

On offense, star running back Saquon Barkley knew to make Purdue pay for their mistakes. After being held scoreless for the first time all season last week against Ohio State, Barkley found his way to the endzone with ease against the Boilermakers, tallying a pair of scores and a career-high 207 yards rushing.

Barkley also added a game-high 70 receiving yards to help quarterback Trace McSorley's efforts in the passing game. McSorley finished the game with 228 passing yards and, along with his two touchdowns to Godwin, connected with freshman running back Miles Sanders on a score for a career-high three passing touchdowns.

Sanders' receiving touchdown gave the Lions a 17-point cushion and to make sure the game was sealed for good, Barkley took the very first play of the fourth quarter 81 yards down the sideline for his longest career rushing touchdown. Barkley's touchdown also allowed Franklin to pull his starters early in the fourth quarter and save his key players from receiving another dose of hits while also allowing his younger players to log crucial playing time. Backup running backs Mark Allen and Andre Robinson both scored their first touchdowns of the season.

"I thought that was significant," Franklin said about getting younger guys snaps. "We haven't really had the opportunity to do that a whole lot since we've been here, having that type of game where we can get some guys experience… it was great to get guys like [backup quarterback] Tommy [Stevens] and all the running backs and receivers get experience."

Penn State's 62 points were the most a Nittany Lions squad had tallied since 2005, but Franklin cared less about the point total and more about his squad avoiding a dreaded trap game that could have potentially derailed their season.

"We're a young team but we're handling things well, maturing every single day and maturing every single game. We still can get a lot better, we really can," Franklin said. "It was a good day and I'm proud of my guys."

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