Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Payton Thorne's 1st career start shines bright despite loss to Penn State

December 12, 2020
<p>Penn State and Michigan State prepare for the snap during the game on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, in Beaver Stadium. Penn State won 39-24. Photos courtesy of Lily LaRegina, photographer and photo editor at The Daily Collegian.</p>

Penn State and Michigan State prepare for the snap during the game on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020, in Beaver Stadium. Penn State won 39-24. Photos courtesy of Lily LaRegina, photographer and photo editor at The Daily Collegian.

It didn't start how he expected.

But Payton Thorne is the son of coaches, he understands it's always about the next play.

A redshirt-freshman in his first career start, Thorne shined after a rocky first drive with three first-half touchdown passes to lead an MSU offense to its best showing of the season since the Spartans win over rival Michigan in a 39-24 loss to Penn State (2-6) to close out their regular season schedule.

Early on, it seemed as though the game might not go MSU's way.

Until it did and then didn't again.

The first drive of Thorne's first career start began with a delay of game, was interrupted by an interception on his first pass attempt, was saved by PSU Safety Jaquan Brisker's fumble on the same play and ended with a punt.

Then all of a sudden, Thorne and the MSU offense came alive down 3-0 early after a 24-yard Nittany Lion field goal.

Even that could be an understatement.

Following the interception, Thorne connected with Jalen Nailor for touchdown passes of 45 and seven yards. He tossed a third to the giant 6-foot-7 wide receiver Tre'Von Morgan while he was double covered while going 10-of-10 passing.

"I mean you can't be throwing interceptions early in the game like that," Thorne said. "You can't be throwing interceptions at all. It was a good job by my teammates to drag the guy down, whoever punched the ball out, then we were able to recover it. That was huge to get the ball back because we talk about turnovers non-stop and we can't turn the ball over. I mean, I should've made a little bit better of a decision there. I thought the guy made a pretty good play."

All of it, from the big pass plays and flea flickers, flashed in the second quarter of play with the Gruff Sparty adorned on the MSU helmets.

"It started with us running the ball," Thorne said. "We came out on that first scoring drive, and we ran it really well. I think that starts the whole offense if we can run, get yards on the ground. Then that sets up everything else."

Then the roller coaster took another turn.

Thorne's ability to move and form a connection with his receivers

Thorne's passing ability is evident. But his first touchdown was a throw made easy by Nailor, who beat the safety on a post route.

Nailor has the speed, and Thorne needed to make sure he got it down the field.

But his ability to move out of the pocket and extend plays, create off the cuff action with their best playmaker Jayden Reed and "Speedy" Nailor, is what was a major key to Thorne's day of 325 passing yards and three passing touchdowns.

Morgan, who was rated the No. 1 receiver recruit out of Ohio, according to Rivals, when he came out of high school, showed the type of weapon he can be on a 31-yard touchdown grab in double coverage.

"I thought those guys (MSU receivers) stepped in and did a good job," Thorne said. "I've been working with Tre'Von for awhile now. He was injured the whole year last year, so he didn't get to be on the scout team with us, and we're really excited to have him back and I thought he made a really good catch on the touchdown. He's been really working in practice."

Do you want the news without having to hunt for it? Sign up for our morning s'newsletter. It's everything your friends are talking about and then some. And it's free!

It was these connections and the pedigree of Reed and Thorne playing high school ball together that cemented his big day with the aerial attack.

"I thought we were all in a really good rhythm," Thorne said. "I really liked the plays we were running, and I liked how we were executing. Unfortunately, we didn't carry that over into the second half at all. So, we got to be better."

After completing 12 straight passes from the first to third quarters, Thorne went 10-of-25. The play calling got away from what was working and Penn State made adjustments at the half that quieted an offense that had its loudest 15 minute stretch of the season.

"We got to be better at keeping it going," Thorne said.

Discussion

Share and discuss “Payton Thorne's 1st career start shines bright despite loss to Penn State” on social media.