Clear skies and plenty of sunshine greeted the blue and white faithful as 71,000 filled Beaver Stadium to watch Blue top White, 21-10, in the annual Blue-White Game presented by Xfinity to close the spring practice calendar for the Penn State football program.
Inside the Numbers
Two — People acting as head coach
Penn State head coach James Franklin wasn’t the only person roaming the sidelines and making observations of the program, as actor/comedian and Penn State alum Keegan-Michael Key also filled in for Coach Franklin in an on-field interview at halftime with former letterwinner turned BTN sideline reporter Anthony “Spice” Adams.
Three — Pass breakups for McPhearson
Sophomore Zech McPhearson (Columbia, Md.) broke up three passes for the White team, including one in the first quarter that saved a touchdown. He added two tackles.
Three — Points off Turnovers for White
The White squad forced the only two turnovers of the game, recovering a pair of Blue team fumbles. Lamont Wade (Clairton, Pa.) forced the first fumble by KJ Hamler (Pontiac, Mich.) in the second quarter. In the third quarter, Corey Bolds (Paterson, N.J.) forced Johnathan Thomas (Peabody, Mass.) to fumble and Frank Di Leo (Elmhurst, Ill.) jumped on the loose ball. The later of the two turnovers forced was turned into a field goal.
Seven — Points scored by kicker Landis
Freshman Carson Landis (Macungie, Pa.) worked double-duty on Saturday, kicking for both the Blue and White squads, scoring seven combined points. Landis converted his lone field goal attempt, a 34-yard strike for the White team, and he hit all four extra points.
8 — Game-high tackles for Parsons and Vranic
Senior Jason Vranic (Wheatfield, N.Y.) and early enrollee Micah Parsons (Harrisburg, Pa.) led the way in tackles, with each piling up eight stops. Parsons logged five solo and three assisted tackles for the Blue team, including second-quarter solo takedown of quarterback Michael Shuster (Camp Hill, Pa.). Vranic paced the White squad with six solo stops and two assisted tackles to account for his total.
12 — Points scored by Hippenhammer
Freshman Mac Hippenhammer (Fort Wayne, Ind.) caught a pair of touchdown passes and accounted for 12 of the 21 Blue points. He hauled in the opening score of the game on a 5-yard pass from Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va.) in the opening quarter and capped the scoring in the game with a 29-yard pass from Sean Clifford (Cincinnati, Ohio). The last student-athlete with two touchdown receptions in a Blue-White Game was Shawney Kersey in 2010.
13 — Different pass catchers in the game
As would be expected with the loss of three starting pass catchers, Penn State spread the ball around through the air, with 13 different Nittany Lions registering a reception. Hippenhammer all receivers with four grabs for 43 yards and two scores for Blue. Mark Allen (Hyattsville, Md.) and Cam Sullivan-Brown (Bowie, Md.) hauled in three catches for Blue, while the White team quartet of Journey Brown (Meadville, Pa.), Isaac Lutz (Reading, Pa.), Colton Maxwell (Northhampton, Pa.) and Christopher Welde (Newtown, Pa.) all caught three balls.
82 — Nittany Lions that saw the field in the Blue-White Game
With a host of positions battles raging throughout the spring and into fall camp, there were 82 student-athletes who saw the field on Saturday. Of the guys that saw the field, five of them were early enrollees, as Trent Gordon (Spring, Texas), Isaiah Humphries (Rowlett, Texas), Jesse Luketa (Ottawa, Ontario), Parsons and Nick Tarburton (Green Lane, Pa.) all got playing time in the scrimmage.
71,000 — Fans filled the stands
For the second-straight season, the Penn State faithful showed up in large numbers to cheer on the Penn State football student-athletes in the annual spring scrimmage. It marks the fifth year in a row with an attendance of 60,000 or more and three out of the last five spring contests have seen 70,000-plus fill the stands of the nation’s second-largest stadium.
Six Nittany Lions were recognized for their spring practice efforts at halftime. Redshirt-junior Kevin Givens (Altoona, Pa.) was presented the Jim O’Hora Award, junior running back Miles Sanders (Pittsburgh, Pa.) earned the Red Worrell Award and the duo of junior wide receiver Juwan Johnson (Glassboro, N.J.) and junior cornerback John Reid (Mount Laurel, N.J.) were selected by the coaching staff as the recipient of the Frank Patrick Memorial Award.
The Coaches Special Team Award was handed out for the fifth-straight season, with graduate senior running back Johnathan Thomas (Peabody, Mass.) garnering the honors. The award is given to the specialist who demonstrated loyalty, interest, attitude & improvement in spring practice. Thomas joins Sam Ficken, Joey Julius, Kyle Vasey and Tyler Yazujian as the awards winners.
The Worrell Award is presented to the offensive player who has best demonstrated exemplary conduct, loyalty, interest, attitude and improvement during spring practice. The prize was first presented in 1958 and is named in the honor of the late Red Worrell, a high school All-American from Centerville HS who was tragically electrocuted in an accident after an exceptional season on the 1957 Nittany Lion freshman team. Past Worrell Award winners include former offensive coordinator Fran Ganter, Lydell Mitchell, Mickey Shuler, Steve Smith, Kyle Brady, Bryant Johnson, Rodney Kinlaw, Graham Zug, Matt Stankiewitch, Ty Howle, Brian Gaia, Brendan Mahon and Juwan Johnson.
The defensive award is named in honor of Jim O’Hora, a long-time Penn State assistant coach who was a member of the coaching staff for 31 years. Loyalty and attitude especially characterized Jim O’Hora and has typified many of the previous winners, including Walker Lee Ashley, Andre Collins, Michael Haynes, Anthony Adams, Tim Shaw, Michael Mauti, Jordan Hill and Stephon Morris, Jordan Lucas, C.J. Olaniyan, Anthony Zettel, Garrett Sickels and Koa Farmer. The O’Hora Award was first presented in 1977.
The Frank Patrick Memorial “Total Commitment” Award goes to squad members in their third spring who consistently follow through with their responsibilities in all facets of the football program and do so in exemplary manner. This includes academic pursuits, off-season preparation, in-season commitment, demeanor and community service. Jeff Hartings, Wally Richardson, Justin Kurpeikis, Bryan Scott, Robbie Gould, Josh Hull, John Urschel, Miles Dieffenbach, Mike Hull are among the previous recipients, along with the trio of McSorley, Tommy Stevens and Josh McPhearson earned the award last season. Patrick was a member of the Lions’ coaching staff from 1949-73.