STATE COLLEGE — DeAndre Thompkins had himself a touchdown through two weeks. But not a catch.
The Penn State wide receiver scored last week on a punt return, but had another potential touchdown glance off his fingertips in the rain in Pittsburgh.
That fact was not on his mind leading up to Saturday’s game against Kent State.
The senior had an eye on his hometown of Hubert, N.C., a coastal town not far from where Hurricane Florence made landfall. And on his mother.
Jawanna Thompkins, though, let her son know in the middle of the week that she was making her way north to the Washington, D.C., area. And the family ultimately worked it out for her to be at Beaver Stadium on Saturday.
Just in time to see DeAndre lay out parallel to the ground in the end zone on the game’s opening drive, making that first catch of 2018 a 40-yard touchdown.
“To have her here and not to have to worry about her, it was a good benefit and a weight off my shoulders,” Thompkins said afterward. “I’m just happy she was able to come up and get out of that.
“My mother’s everything to me. So I was worried a little bit (during the week), but she’s a grown woman. She’ll make smart decisions.”
Despite not starting for the second straight week and splitting even more reps than usual in the 63-10 blowout, Thompkins led all receivers with four grabs for 101 yards. Along the way, he surpassed 1,000 career receiving yards and took his mind off his hometown, which sits some 60 miles up the coast from Wilmington, N.C., where the storm hit.
“We’re by the beach, so probably the worst area you can be in,” said Thompkins, who said he was still waiting for updates about how the town was holding up with some forecasts projecting up to 30 inches of rain for the area by next week.
Unable to do anything about it himself, he focused on football and making up for two tough weeks on the field for him personally.
“Going into (the game), I had a mission and a mindset to prove to everyone and myself that I can be one of the best receivers in the country and capitalize on my opportunities,” Thompkins said.
While the receiving corps as a whole had another up-and-down day with dropped passes, coach James Franklin pointed to Thompkins — “who we have all the confidence in the world in,” he said.
“Huge play,” Franklin said. “So I’m happy for him. … I’ve got all the faith in the world in Brandon Polk, Juwan Johnson and DeAndre Thompkins. Those guys are big-time players.”
• Two key players — defensive end Shareef Miller and running back Miles Sanders — both spent time in the injury tent midway through the game, but both returned in the third quarter before exiting as the score got out of hand.
Both were available for interviews after the game and said they had no issues.
• Junior cornerback John Reid, out since the second half of the Appalachian State game with an undisclosed injury, was in uniform and went through warm-ups with the corners.
Once again, though, it was Tariq Castro-Fields who got the start as Reid spent another full game on the sideline.
• Quarterback Tommy Stevens suited up for the third straight game. And for the third straight game he didn’t play. Stevens had been in a walking boot through training camp and had also missed spring ball with a foot injury — still no word on whether it was a new injury or a reaggravation of an old one.
Still, the Lions’ all-around offensive threat ended up throwing the ball with the rest of the quarterbacks during warm-ups, something he didn’t do the first two weeks of the season.
ABC/ESPN analyst and former Penn State quarterback Todd Blackledge reported during last week’s broadcast that Stevens had a “four-to-six-week injury” but could have played against Pitt in an emergency.
• Sophomore defensive end Shane Simmons appears to be making progress from a foot injury as he was no longer wearing a boot. But he didn’t dress for the Lions for the third straight game.
• Junior tight end Nick Bowers remains out of uniform for the Lions. Fellow tight end Danny Dalton did not play for the first time this season, though he was dressed.
Reach Derek Levarse at 570-991-6396 or on Twitter @TLdlevarse