“105K Strong” Returns To Fill Beaver Stadium in 44-13 Win Over Ball State
Following a road win over Wisconsin to open up the season, the Penn State Nittany Lions were welcomed by a packed Beaver Stadium for today’s home opener against Ball State.
For the Nittany Lions, the game was the first to have fans in Beaver Stadium since November of 2019 in a 27-6 win over Rutgers. There were no fans in all Big Ten games during the shortened 2020 season due to the coronavirus.
That all changed during the Nittany Lions 2021 home opener against Ball State. A total of 105,323 fans were in attendance for Saturday’s game as college football returns to normalcy.
The atmosphere created by the fans was missed by both the Penn State players and the coaches as they felt it made a big difference in Saturday’s contest.
Emotions may have been high for Penn State head coach James Franklin when he first walked out of the tunnel seeing fans pack the house once again.
“It was awesome, in some ways it was emotional,” Franklin said. “I thought the environment was great in here.”
For a portion of Penn State’s roster, this may have been their first time playing for the Nittany Lions with fans in attendance. Since no fans were allowed in Beaver Stadium during the 2020 season, both current freshmen and sophomores have never experienced playing in front of over 105 thousand people.
Running back Keyvone Lee is one of these players. Lee broke out towards the end of his freshman season as Penn State’s main option, all that success however was in front of empty stadiums.
“It was my first time seeing a full stadium cause last year with COVID,” Lee said. “I loved it, it was wild.”
Even for players who’ve experienced a packed Beaver stadium prior to the pandemic, first running out of the tunnel against Ball State became a surreal moment for them.
Quarterback Sean Clifford started for the Nittany Lions during the 2019 season. Clifford knew how great it would be for the fans who missed out on last season to come back and root for the blue and white in person on Saturday.
“It was awesome, just having everyone back in Beaver Stadium,” Clifford said. “I think it was 105 thousand, and just to have everyone back, enjoying themselves, looking up in the crowd seeing everyone’s faces - that’s what Penn State football is all about.”
The Nittany Lions will host three straight home games following their win against Ball State; that streak will continue against the Auburn Tigers in what will be the White Out game at Beaver Stadium.
Logan Bourandas is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.