Third Quarter Surge Propels No. 16 Penn State To Dominant 45-17 White Out Win Against Minnesota
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - An avalanche of points in the third quarter was a compliment to the avalanche of fans that packed Beaver Stadium for No. 16 Penn State’s commanding 45-17 victory over Minnesota in 2022’s rendition of the White Out.
The Nittany Lions rode a 21-point third quarter to victory in which a well-balanced offensive attack wore down the Golden Gophers' defense. Penn State gained momentum and never looked back, improving its record to 6-1 while Minnesota drops its third straight and falls to 4-3.
Quarterback Sean Clifford rebounded after a sloppy start, throwing a bad interception in the first quarter and hearing some jeers from the crowd.
The sixth-year senior responded, completing 12 passes for 134 yards and one touchdown in the second quarter, and connecting on 10 passes for 100 yards and three touchdowns in the third quarter.
“We have a passionate fanbase, I understand that,” Clifford said. “They can think what they want to think, and I’m going to focus on what I can do and give my heart and my soul every single time I step onto the field. [That’s something that] nobody can take away from me.”
Clifford finished the game completing 75% (23-of-31) of his passes for 296 yards and four touchdowns.
“I’m proud of Sean,” Franklin said. “He’s a battler and he’s resilient. And he’s tough. He played really well, and if you look around the country, there’re a lot of programs that would be super excited and happy about Sean Clifford being their quarterback… and what he was able to do tonight against one of the better defenses in the country, I’m proud of that,” head coach and James Franklin said.
Parker Washington finally had his breakout game of the season, catching seven balls for 70 yards and one acrobatic touchdown.
Washington wasn’t alone, as Mitchell Tinsley continued his productive start to the campaign with three catches for 28 yards and one touchdown, and another sensational 30-yard snag flashing his hands and concentration.
It was the tight ends that stole the show, however as Theo Johnson had his best game in a Nittany Lions uniform with five catches for 75 yards and one touchdown. Tyler Warren also found the end zone on a wide-open 38-yard catch and run.
“I think when Parker Washington touches the ball a bunch and when our tight ends touch the ball a bunch, I think we’re at our best,” Franklin said.
Franklin and offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich placed a lot of emphasis on getting the tight ends involved this week, and they did just that.
The passing attack wouldn’t have found success if not for the offensive line, Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen setting the tone in the trenches, which was another point of emphasis coming into the day.
Singleton ran 13 times for 79 yards and two late touchdowns that put the game away. His counterpart, Allen matched him providing some lightning and thunder for the Nittany Lions ground attack, taking 15 handoffs for 77 yards.
Penn State played complimentary football to a T with standouts on each side of the ball.
Curtis Jacobs had himself a night on defense, recording 14 total tackles and two tackles-for-loss. He and Abdul Carter, who got his first start across from Jacobs, headlined a dominant defensive effort by the Nittany Lions. Mo Ibrahim, the Golden Gophers' standout running back was limited to 30 carries for 102 yards and one touchdown.
Franklin and the coaching staff adjusted after last week’s loss to Michigan and made sure that the same thing didn’t happen again.
The White Out atmosphere was electric as ever, as Franklin moves to 5-2 as a head coach in the famed game and has won the last four.
Minnesota struggled in the penalties category committing five false starts, as well as on third down. The Golden Gophers ended the night converting only 2-of-13 third downs after entering the game leading the nation converting on third down at a 62% clip.
Minnesota also entered the game leading the nation in third down defense, with opponents converting at a 21% rate. Penn State finished the night 5-for-11, which is well above that average at 45%.
“This is one of the most special environments in all of sports, not just college football, but all of sports and they had a huge impact tonight,” Franklin said.
Penn State got back on track but doesn’t have long before it faces its biggest test of the season back home at Beaver Stadium next week against the Ohio State Buckeyes.
“We’re going to need that again next Saturday.”
Zach Donaldson is a fifth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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