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Penn State: Dom DeLuca’s Pick-6 Highlights Defensive Effort

Penn State Athletics

UNIVERSITY PARK— Penn State LB Dominic DeLuca is a prime example of a walk-on’s dream.

Even though he was Pennsylvania’s Class 3A Player of the Year coming out of high school, he wasn’t highly recruited.

But he set his mind on Penn State as a preferred walk-on.

DeLuca’s confidence everything a walk-on could ever want. He’s was a developmental squad Defensive Player of the Year his true freshman season in 2021. He won the team’s Outstanding Run-On award last year as a redshirt freshman. In this year’s preseason, he earned the No. 0 jersey, which is awarded to a ‘tough, disciplined, dependable, physical leader.’ He was also put on scholarship earlier this year, and named a captain by his teammates.

DeLuca showed that none of it was an accident Saturday.

The linebacker returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown in Saturday’s 63-7 blowout win over Delaware.

DeLuca took advantage of a good pass rush on Blue Hen QB Zach Marker, who had to make a quick throw. DeLuca got the pick and raced the 26 yards untouched.

“All my boys were congratulating me in the end zone,” DeLuca said. “There’s nothing better than that.”

DeLuca is  a small example of the depth Penn State’s defense had this season. Penn State’s second and third-string players were on the field for most of the second half.

“To be able to get guys more experience, you can’t take that for granted,” Penn State safety Keaton Ellis said. “You only get 12 games a season.”

Delaware got its lone score on a 66-yard run by Marcus Yarns. It gained just 16 more yards on the ground the rest of the day.

“Defensively I thought we played pretty well,” PSU coach James Franklin said. “We had one play where we weren’t gap-sound. The ball found that gap, and they have some talented guys that can run. It’s just an example that everyone has to do their job on a consistent basis.”

Just two series before DeLuca’s pick-6, Penn State got its first turnover of the season. Ellis forced a fumble on a rush from Yarns. Kevin Winston Jr. recovered it.

No PSU defensive player was credited with more than four tackles for the day, but there were also four sacks – one each from Zane Durant, Jaylen Reed, Jameial Lyons and Zuriah Fisher.

It’s an FCS opponent in Delaware, but the Blue Hens have a solid program at that level. Penn State’s defense were credited with its fair share of highlights.

“I’m just glad that the D line got their pass rush and got the ball out quick, and I was just able to make a play,” DeLuca said.

One of many plays, and maybe the most satisfying  one of the day.

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