Blue White Illustrated

January 2022

Penn State Sports Magazine

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8 J A N U A R Y 2 0 2 2 OPENING SHOT RELIEF PITCHER The Nittany Lions were nearly fresh out of quar- terbacks heading into their home finale against Rutgers on Nov. 20. A nasty flu bug had swept through the team, and on the day before Penn State was set to face the Scarlet Knights, it seemed entirely possible that redshirt freshman walk-on Mason Stahl was going to be the team's starter. "We had a wave of this illness," coach James Franklin explained. "And then on Friday morning, the second wave hit us, and that's when we didn't have a quarterback. All of the quarterbacks were there earlier in the week, and then all of a sudden they all got knocked out." Fifth-year senior Sean Clifford was put on an IV on Friday night, then was told to skip breakfast and instead sleep in on Saturday morning at the team hotel. He got another round of IV treatment before the game and felt well enough to try to gut it out. But four ineffective possessions in which he went 2-of-8 passing for 23 yards served only to prove that the veteran quarterback was too sick to be effective. Enter true freshman Christian Veilleux. A 6-foot-4, 202-pounder from Ottawa, Ontario, Veilleux was seeing the first action of his collegiate career, having spent his first few months at Penn State backing up Clifford and redshirt sophomore Ta'Quan Roberson. But against the Scarlet Knights, he displayed the self-assurance of a more expe- rienced player. His first rushing attempt was a 14-yard gain. His first pass attempt was complete to sophomore wideout Parker Washington for 15 yards. Veilleux went on to complete 15 of 24 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns, including a 67-yarder to redshirt freshman receiver Malick Meiga, lifting the Lions to a 28-0 victory. More im- pressive still, he compiled those numbers despite playing for only about two and a half quarters. By the halfway point of the fourth quarter, Stahl was in the game, with Penn State having built a four- touchdown lead. Franklin said he was gratified to see Veilleux play so well in his Penn State debut. "He just keeps getting better, and I was proud of him," the coach said. "He was very poised today, made some plays with his legs, made some big- time throws, made some checks. Obviously, it's something to build on." PHOTO BY STEVE MANUEL

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