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Penn State ends 2020 season with 56-21 win over Illinois

The Nittany Lions announced afterwards that they won't be participating in any bowls this season.
Credit: WPMT

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — After a sluggish 0-5 start to the 2020 season, Penn State's football team seemed to be picking up more momentum with each game over the past four weeks.

With a 56-21 win over Illinois on Saturday night, PSU announced they will opt out of the upcoming bowl season.  Penn State finishes the year with a 4-5 record.

Coach James Franklin said the team would discuss their bowl fate late on Saturday evening.  The final decision was ultimately up to the Penn State student athletes.

“I couldn’t be more proud and encouraged by how our team conducted itself during this unprecedented season. One of our four core values is a willingness to sacrifice, and our student-athletes, coaches and staff have all made incredible sacrifices both on and off the field in order for us to compete this year,” said Franklin. “This has been a challenging nine months, but we are proud of how our student-athletes have navigated these difficult times. As you know, we rely on our captains and Leadership Council to provide a voice for our team, and our student-athletes made the difficult choice not to participate in a bowl this year in order to spend time with loved ones. We are fully supportive of their decision, knowing it has been many months since our students-athletes have been able to spend time with their families and the challenges they endured, both physically and mentally. This will be an opportunity for our guys to go home, see family and recharge for the spring semester.” 

The team's decision was not only fully supported by the PSU coaching staff, but also Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour.

“Our student-athletes have made tremendous sacrifices this season in order to play the game they love,” said Barbour. “Because of their commitment to our process and protocols, we have remained healthy and are one of two teams in the Big Ten Conference to play in all nine scheduled games. Very few teams have handled playing during the pandemic as well as our program has, which fills me with Penn State pride. Our student-athletes will now have the opportunity for a well-deserved break to enjoy time with their families before returning for the spring semester. I would also like the recognize all of the coaches and support staff members who have also made numerous sacrifices of their own for our student-athletes to compete this fall and moving forward.” 

The Nittany Lions season finale saw a huge performance by wide receiver Jahan Dotson.  The Nazareth native had 189 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions on six catches.

Another highlight saw senior Lamont Wade return a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in his final game as a Nittany Lion.

Mechanicsburg native Joseph Bruno was also able to see some time in the Penn State backfield.  The freshman toted the rock four times for a total of 40 yards.

PSU and Illinois were tied at 21 after the first quarter but Coach Brent Pry's defense settled in and shutout the Fighting Illini for the remainder of the game.