Gophers' Jaylen Waters ejected for hit on Penn State kicker Joey Julius

ByJosh Moyer ESPN logo
Sunday, October 2, 2016

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Minnesotalinebacker Jaylen Waters was ejected Saturday after an apparent feud with Penn State's 258-pound kicker that culminated in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Joey Julius needing help off the field.

Waters was disqualified by officials and forced into the locker room after lowering his shoulder on a kickoff late in the third quarter, smacking Julius at about the Minnesota 28-yard line. The kickoff wound up as a touchback.

Emotions heated up on the field with players exchanging words. Penn State coach James Franklin walked onto the field and prevented the situation from escalating further.

"I don't have much comment," Gophers coach Tracy Claeys said about the incident. "I'll take care of that. Nobody has more pride and cares about the game of football more than me. There may be some who have equal, but I care about protecting the game."

Julius, who initially remained still for a minute or two, did not appear to be seriously injured after standing, and the Nittany Lions went on to win 29-26 in overtime.

The call did not appear to be for targeting, as a Minnesota spokesperson said the Big Ten clarified that Waters would not miss the first half of next weekend's game following his ejection.

"I think because Joey Julius has been such a factor in getting down and making tackles, that people are treating him differently," Franklin said. "So I think that's a credit to Joey and his toughness, but I do think that play fired everybody up. There's no doubt about it. ... I'm glad Joey's OK, and I'm also impressed that he's built a reputation that you better deal with our kicker or he's going to get down there and make tackles."

Julius and Waters got into a shoving match earlier in the first half, as well. That play did not result in a penalty.

Videos of Julius, a 5-foot-10, 258-pound redshirt sophomore, went viral twice this season for two big hits he laid on returners. He didn't make a tackle in Saturday's game against the Golden Gophers, but he slowed returner Jalen Myrick, who spun out of his attempted stop.

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