STAFFORD - Today in Glendale, Arizona a great college career came to a close for Mike Gesicki. Gesicki is a former Southern Regional High School athlete who excelled in football, basketball and volleyball for the Rams. Mike concluded his stellar football career in Penn State's 35-28 victory over Washington in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday afternoon.
It has been a great experience for local fans to follow Michael's collegiate career. There is a good possibility that all we watch him again playing football in the National Football League next season.
Gesicki caught 6 passes today for 62 yards. His longest was a 26 yard reception.
He set the Penn State career receptions record for tight ends. He holds record for most touchdowns by a tight end at Penn State. Pittsburgh Steelers successful tight end Jesse James is behind Mike in that department. He was listed as a preseason All American candidate. Gesicki was an All Big Ten first team member of offense this season also. Mike is expected to be drafted in the early rounds of the NFL draft.
The No. 9 Nittany Lions sustained a comeback bid and ousted No. 11 Washington 35-28 at University of Phoenix Stadium, completing yet another 11-win season. Saquon Barkley totaled 175 yards from scrimmage with two touchdowns — including a stunning score that was the play of the day.
Nittany Lion quarterback Trace McSorley guided the offense to 547 total yards (342 passing, 205 rushing) with two touchdown passes of his own. The Nittany Lions outpaced the Huskies by more than 200 yards despite their three turnovers.
Trace McSorley threw for 342 yards and had both of his touchdown passes to DaeSean Hamilton on third-down plays, helping No. 9 Penn State outlast No. 12 Washington 35-28 in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday.
"Our coaches did a fantastic job and the O line protected and the receivers made plays," Franklin said. "We were very efficient. We executed."
Penn State (11-2), No. 9 in the final College Football Rankings, had its way with Washington's vaunted defense early, building a 28-7 lead by the second quarter. Washington (10-3) woke up from an offensive slumber with two touchdowns and pulled to 35-28 on Myles Gaskins' 69-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
The Huskies' inability to stop Penn State on third down kept them from getting any closer.
The Nittany Lions converted three third-down attempts on a final clock-winding drive and were 13 for 17 overall. Washington had a final shot with a desperation play of multiple laterals and passes, but Dante Pettis' final lateral was intercepted after he passed up a chance to step out of bounds to set up one more play.
Washington had the nation's top run defense during the regular season, allowing 92 yards per game, but Saquon Barkley matched that on one run in the second quarter. Barkley had 137 of the Nittany Lions' 203 yards rushing and two touchdowns in what could be his final game if he decides to turn pro. The Huskies, No. 11 in the nation, gave up a season-high 545 total yards to Penn State's powerful offense.
McSorley connected with DaeSean Hamilton on a 48-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive, and set up scoring runs of 2 yards by Barkley and 1 yard by Miles Sanders. Barkley then did it all himself, bursting through the left side for a 92-yard touchdown run to put Penn State up 28-7. The Nittany Lions had 367 yards by halftime against a defense that allowed 277.4 yards per game during the regular season.
Washington responded late in the first half with a trick play to spark Washington from a slow start, calling a double pass that led to 52-yard gain to tight end Drew Sample. That set up Jake Browning's 1-yard TD dive. The Huskies turned a recovered fumble into a much-needed touchdown just before halftime, cutting Penn State's lead to 28-14 on Gaskin's 13-yard run.
Right after halftime, Washington had another big score. Jake Browning 28 yard pass to Aaron Fuller.
Next Penn State answered on another big third down, when McSorley hit Hamilton on a 24-yard TD pass to put Penn State up 35-21. That play moved the momentum back to Penn State.
Penn State could only wonder if a break here or there during the season had led to a final four College Football Playoff position but they had a nice way to finish the season with the Fiesta victory.
Saquan Barkley is a junior, but could decide to leave for the NFL. McSorley is back next season and the Nittany Lions should have most of their offensive line back. Penn State will be a powerful squad next season.
Stafford's own Mike Gesicki will have great memories and should be proud of his accomplishments. The entire Southern Ocean County community is extremely proud of him and loved watching him play ball.