Christian Veilleux stepped in for an injured Sean Clifford and tossed three touchdown passes to lead Penn State to a 28-0 win over Rutgers on Saturday.
The freshman quarterback was thrust into action when an unspecified injury forced Clifford out of the game midway through the first quarter.
Jahan Dotson, Parker Washington and Malick Meiga caught touchdown passes and Keyvone Lee ran for a score for the Nittany Lions (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten) who snapped a two-game skid at Beaver Stadium.
Although he had never played a collegiate down and took a while to find his rhythm, Veilleux settled in and the rest of Penn State’s offense did enough in the second half to beat the Scarlet Knights (5-6, 2-6) for the 15th straight time.
Veilleux completed 15 of 24 passes for 235 yards. His eight-yard pass to Dotson with 1:03 to play in the second quarter broke a scoreless tie and was the lone highlight to that point in a game that had been without any.
Both offenses traded punts and just-missed turnovers in the first quarter. They combined for just 53 yards on 31 plays in the opening 15 minutes before Penn State managed the 10-play drive capped by Dotson’s 10th touchdown catch of the year.
Penn State was much more efficient in the second half where Veilleux ended a pair of quick third-quarter drives with big plays.
He dropped a 17-yard pass in to Washington in the end zone with 3:32 to play in the third, then hit an uncovered Meiga over the middle for a 67-yard score two minutes later.
Penn State’s defense did the rest.
Rutgers was held to 165 yards, forced to punt 10 times, converted just 4 of 15 third downs and crossed midfield just once — in the opening minute of the fourth quarter.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights played hard on defense, but had no help on the other side. Penn State’s defense was a big part of their struggles, but the Scarlet Knights still dropped balls, committed penalties and got very little push with their running game. They’ll need to be a lot better next week if they want to make their first bowl appearance since 2014.
Penn State: Veilleux gave Penn State fans some hope after Clifford, who’s been banged up all year, was unable to continue. The Nittany Lions still need more from players not named Dotson, however.
Rutgers: Hosts Maryland.
Penn State: Visits No. 7 Michigan State.