Nicholas Singleton powers Penn State to a dominant 46-10 win over Ohio
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA – Penn State entered Saturday’s contest against Ohio riding high off its 35-31 victory over Purdue in Week 1.
While the running game struggled in the win totaling 98 yards as a team, Saturday was a different story as one player broke out from the rest.
Midway through the first quarter, true freshman Nick Singleton lined up next to quarterback Sean Clifford on the Nittany Lions' 30-yard line; he took the handoff, and the rest was history.
Singleton burst down the sideline, breaking two tackles and raced into the endzone to put the blue and white up 14.
The Gatorade Player of the Year and the No. 1 ranked running back recruit in the nation tallied his first collegiate touchdown, going 70 yards en route to a dominant 46-10 victory over the Bobcats.
“First off, you say, ‘Oh, he’s fast,’” Parker Washington said. “A good run game in the offense is just amazing. I was excited to see that.”
Singleton’s 70-yard scamper was Penn State’s longest rush since 2019 when Journey Brown racked up an 85-yard carry against PITT.
However, that wasn’t the only time the Shillington, Pennsylvania, native found the end zone as he broke off another long touchdown run late in the third quarter.
Singleton’s second touchdown of the contest went for 44 yards and put the Nittany Lions up 40-7.
Singleton's breakout game was a welcomed sight to James Franklin’s staff as his program failed to have a 100-yard rusher a season ago, and the last player to reach that mark was Keyvone Lee against Michigan in 2020.
After the contest, redshirt senior Bryce Effner mentioned watching his running backs play at an elite level is one of the “best” feelings for an offensive lineman.
“It’s awesome to see,” Effner said. “I think Nick had two of them today, so all power to him. I love that kid. He’s going to be a great running back for us going forward.”
In the season opener against Purdue, the blue and white employed a running back rotation, switching between Lee, Singleton and Allen.
Throughout the week, Franklin reiterated his commitment to the rotation but wasn’t afraid to ride the hot hand if presented the chance, and on Saturday, Singleton received the majority of the carries.
Singleton finished as Penn State’s leading rusher with 10 carries for 179 yards with two touchdowns while averaging 17.9 yards per carry.
Second on the team in rushing yards was the fellow true freshman in Allen, who racked up 23 yards on six carries.
Fifth-year senior safety Ji’Ayir Brown noted the true freshman duo came to Happy Valley with a different mindset than most other freshmen.
“Most of the young guys come in, they think it's college, they want to do parties, and have a young guy experience,” Brown said. “These guys came in young but with a mindset of a fifth-year, sixth-year. They came in ready to work. They were all about football and nothing else.”
The third part of the running back rotation was the starter Lee, who started both games, but in Saturday’s contest, he watched from the sidelines as the freshman duo dominated.
Lee finished the game with just one carry for zero yards and played sparingly in the second half.
Although Singleton and Allen looked like stars, Franklin isn’t ready to abandon the rotation just yet.
“I have a ton of confidence in all four of those guys,” Franklin said. “Obviously, Nick breaking off those big runs was needed. There’s no doubt about that. We’ll watch film and see what makes sense going forward.”
With an improved running game, Penn State had more opportunities to attack the Bobcats' defense through the air, and that's what it did.
On the Nittany Lions' first drive of the game, Clifford went a perfect 6-6 for 62 yards, completing passes to six different receivers, which set up a one-yard rushing touchdown for the sixth-year senior quarterback.
After the rushing tallies by Clifford and Singleton, the blue and white added to its lead with a Jake Pinegar field goal and Jonathan Sutherland forcing a safety.
Late in the first half, Ohio found itself trailing by 19, but it got down the field off two trick plays, and the drive ended in a one-yard Sieh Bangura touchdown, cutting its deficit to 12 with 1:34 left.
Penn State was in a similar situation to the prior week with a two-minute drill to the half, and the result was the same.
Clifford operated quickly and moved the ball down the field thanks to a 34-yard Parker Washington reception, and one play later, the roommate connection was in full force as Clifford found Mitchell Tinsley for a 7-yard touchdown.
The Nittany Lions went into halftime with a commanding 26-7 lead, and they made a change at the quarterback spot early in the third quarter.
The blue and white brought in true freshman quarterback Drew Allar, and on his first drive at Beaver Stadium, he led his team down the field for a score, connecting with fellow true freshman Omari Evans for a 32-yard touchdown.
Later in the game, Allar found tight end Khalil Dinkins for a 28-yard score and his second touchdown pass of the game.
Penn State cruised for the rest of the contest, as Ohio managed to tack on a field goal.
Alex Rocco is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email Alex.Rocco1702@gmail.com.
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