Penn State Football: For A Young Team, Big Plays By Veterans All The More Important
Penn State was still losing and the Nittany Lions had just gone on a 40-yard drive that ended with a fumble to open the second half.
If Buffalo was going to pull off the upset, it was getting the bounces that it needed. And to start the half it still had the momentum to pull that upset off.
But facing a third-and-6, the Bulls were standing on their own 31, facing a long yardage situation.
So quarterback Matt Myers stepped back to throw and unloaded to the left side of the field.
Right into the arms of Penn State corner back John Reid, who ran untouched into the end zone. Suddenly that lead was no more, the Nittany Lions ahead 14-10, and the momentum was squarely in their corner.
“They ran a similar route earlier in the game,” Reid said postgame. “I broke on it a little too late. I tried to get the strip when I got the same look earlier, and I knew they were going to come back to it again — especially because it was a third-and-medium situation.”
For Penn State the implications in the game were huge, the Nittany Lions going on to score 31 more points while Buffalo settled for only a field goal the rest of the way.
In terms of the season at large, those are the kinds of plays Penn State will need from the few veteran players that it has. Reid has seen it all, unfazed by trailing, unconcerned about big plays. When his team needed something, Reid was there to show his younger teammates how it's done.
“It was a huge play from a momentum perspective,” head coach James Franklin said postgame. “He’s a guy that everybody respects based on just how he goes about his business all the time and in every aspect of his life. The sideline reacts to him because they feel so strongly about him, but I also think it was a huge play. It got the fans going and our sideline going — I couldn’t be happier for John.”
It's a big moment for Reid too, who now has his second interception in as many games. The fifth-year senior has had his fair share of ups and down, especially after missing the 2017 season to injury, and having a bumpy road in 2018.
But now he's healthy and fully confident. He's playing fast and the former IBM intern is using all his smarts and abilities on the field.
"I would say the hardest part coming back from an injury is just your instincts that you have for football," Reid said earlier this season of his 2018 year. "I guess in my case since I've been playing football for so many years in a row and then to sit out a season, my instincts did end up coming back, but it definitely took a lot longer than I thought. I was expecting it to be almost instant, but that's not really realistic."
But now it's back, and so is Reid.