Game Grades: Penn State vs Kent State

Story posted September 16, 2018 in Sports, CommRadio by Jeremy Ganes

Offense: A-  

Penn State racked up the offense against Kent State, trouncing the Golden Flashes 63-10. The Nittany Lions gained 643 total yards to the Golden Flashes’ 221. Quarterback Trace McSorley completed 11 of his 22 pass attempts, totaling 229 yards, throwing two touchdowns and an interception. As has been the case thus far this season, McSorley was plagued by dropped passes by several receivers. McSorley tied his own record with three rushing touchdowns in the game, combining his own scrambling ability with some well executed designed QB runs to keep the Kent State defense on its toes. Running back Miles Sanders led a robust Penn State rushing attack that logged 297 yards. Sanders contributed 86 yards, churning out chunks of yardage for a 6.1-yard average. Senior running back Mark Allen also had a productive day, registering 62 yards on 11 carries for a 5.6-yard average. DeAndre Thompkins had a big outing at receiver, recording 101 yards on four catches, including a 40-yard TD catch to open the scoring for the Lions. Backup quarterback Sean Clifford even joined in on the offensive flurry, launching a 95-yard TD pass to Daniel George that set a new record for the longest TD pass in program history.

Defense: A 

The Nittany Lions’ defense was nothing if not stifling against the Golden Flashes, limiting them to 221 total yards. The run defense was a brick wall, conceding only 41 rushing yards and a meager 1.1 yards per rush. The lone hiccup on defense was allowing a pretty 47-yard TD pass to Mike Carrigan from Golden Eagles’ QB Woody Barrett. Cornerback Amani Oruwariye was beat for a 50-50 ball and posterized by Carrigan, who ripped the ball away and scampered into the end zone. The defensive line created a fiery pass rush, racking up seven sacks, with defensive ends Shareef Miller and Jayson Oweh getting two apiece. The Lions’ spent a lot of time on the Kent State backfield, recording a whopping 15 tackles-for-loss.

Special Teams: A

Coming off an impeccable evening against Pittsburgh, the Lions’ special teams unit had another positive day against the Golden Flashes. Thompkins returned three punts for 62 yards, including a 32-yard return where he broke several tackles to get loose. KJ Hamler’s speed has proven to be invaluable, as he returned a kickoff for 52 yards, and took a punt return 33 yards. Hamler has also been a big play receiver in the passing game, catching a 22 yard pass  on the day. Placekicker Jake Pinegar made all nine of his extra point attempts, and punter Blake Gillikin punted twice for 97 yards, including a booming 58 yarder.

Coaching B+

Head coach James Franklin had his team ready to play, as the offense and defense were firing on all cylinders, but there is surely more work to do as the Nittany Lions prepare to start conference play next Friday at Illinois. There were lots of dropped passes for a couple receivers, but no receiver has failed to live up to expectations more than senior wide receiver Juwan Johnson, the clear veteran at the position, who failed to register a catch against Kent State. The young receivers have stepped up, but as Penn State starts to face stiffer competition, the Lions will need someone like Johnson, who has played in big games, to lead the way.


Jeremy Ganes is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email