Penn State Football Grades: Jahan Dotson’s career day leads decisive win over Illinois

Jahan Dotson #5 of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Jahan Dotson #5 of the Penn State Nittany Lions (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /
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Penn State football wins fourth straight to cap off the regular season as the Nittany Lions defeat the Illinois fighting Illini 56-21 at Beaver Stadium.

After a wild first quarter that saw 42 points scored between both teams, Penn State football settled in and pulled away with 35 unanswered points to defeat Illinois 56-21 Saturday.

it was a dominant effort from Penn State Football, outgaining the Illini 580 yards to 273 and the Nittany Lions got contributions from all the phases of the game. Special teams yet again played a big role when senior Lamont Wade ran back a a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to give the Nittany Lions a 14-7 lead.

The story of this one though was junior wide receiver Jahan Dotson dazzling once again, and possibly for the last time in the blue and white. Dotson caught six passed for 189 yards and two scores.

It was all about quick strikes for Dotson, who took a short pass on the opening play of the game 75 yards for a touchdown, eluding the defender and then turning on the jets. In the second quarter, the junior caught a screen and got great downfield blocking from his linemen and once again went 70 yards with it for a score, putting Penn State football up 42-21 in what felt like a knock out blow.

The defense looked like they were on the ropes early, after Keaton Ellis got his first career interception on Illinois’ first drive of the game, they responded with three straight scoring drives on only 11 total plays. Yet, like they did in last week’s victory over the Spartans, made in game adjustments and held the Illini scoreless over the final three quarters. The defensive line really stepped up with three sacks and seven tackles for loss, making things difficult on freshman quarterback Isaiah Williams.

After the game, coach James Franklin met with the captains and seniors and it was decided that Penn State football will forego a bowl game this season, concluding the 2020 season. To the credit of this team and staff, after a nightmare 0-5 start, this team held it together and responded with four straight victories, building momentum going into the offseason.

Here are three player grades from Saturday’s win and a game MVP:

TE Brenton Strange

Grade: B

Redshirt freshman tight end Brenton Strange was thrust into a starting role earlier this season due to star tight end Pat Freiermuth’s shoulder injury that sidelined him for the remainder of the season.

Strange has responded well to the increased work load but had maybe his best game as a Nittany Lion yesterday, catching four passes for 31 yards and a touchdown late in the third quarter. The seven yard touchdown grab came via quarterback Will Levis, his first passing touchdown of the season.

The redshirt freshman has become a security blanket for Penn State football quarterbacks but is also a great blocking tight end and has helped improve the play of this offensive line and improve the Nittany Lions ground game over their four game winning streak.

Strange has put together a nice season with 17 receptions for 164 yards an two touchdowns. The future is bright for him and Penn State football at the tight end position going into the offseason.