Game Grades: Penn State vs. Ball State

Story posted September 12, 2021 in CommRadio, Sports by Logan Bourandas

Just about everything that could go right went right during the Nittany Lions’ 44-13 win over Ball State. From beginning to end, the Nittany Lions kept their foot on the gas as they scored 10 or more points in all four quarters of the game.

Let’s take a look at each position and dive a little deeper into how they did.

Offense: A

This was a game where everyone was able to contribute and no individual player stole the spotlight.

Sean Clifford was efficient but didn’t light the world on fire as he threw for 230 yards and one touchdown and also ran for a score. Clifford also was able to spread the ball around with ten total players catching a pass in the game.

Even when Clifford was subbed out for Ta’Quan Roberson, the Nittany Lions kept firing as Roberson was able to throw his first career touchdown pass hitting Theo Johnson for the final score of the game.

The rushing attack saw a similar approach to the passing game as the Nittany Lions finished the day with 240 yards on the ground.

Three Nittany Lions finished with over 60 yards rushing including Clifford who was third on the team with 66. Noah Cain led the way for Penn State with 69 rushing yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Keyvonne Lee got more involved in the second half and finished with 68 rushing yards on eight carries.

It was a balanced day for the Nittany Lion offense and if they are able to be this efficient in every game, it will be hard for them to lose.

Defense: A+

The defense has continued to look like one of the best in the country. The Nittany Lions followed up their performance against Wisconsin where they only gave up 10 points by giving up 13 against Ball State.

Seven of those points came on a garbage time touchdown with less than seven minutes left in the game.

What really gives the defense an A+ grade however is that they put points on the board. Jesse Luketa intercepted a pass in the third quarter and was able to run it back for a touchdown on a play that really came out of nowhere.

That wasn’t the Nittany Lions’ only interception on the day however as later on in the game, Daequan Hardy was able to corral his first career interception.

Throughout the game, the Penn State defense forced several three and outs and never allowed the Ball State offense to gain any momentum at any point.

Coaching: A+

No complaints here, this was a really well coached game by James Franklin and company.

The Cardinals had come into the season as the defending champions of the MAC conference and the Nittany Lions made them look like an FCS school.

Probably the biggest thing to note during the game was the fact that Sean Clifford looked comfortable in the new Mike Yurcich offense. The offense was fast paced and the Cardinals just couldn’t keep up with it.

This was a game where Sean Clifford had a chance to show what he’s made of and he didn’t disappoint and for that a lot of credit needs to go to both Franklin and Yurcich.

On the defensive side of the ball, Brent Pry has been one of the best coordinators in the country thus far. His defense has been unstoppable so far this season and he never allowed his guys to let their foot off the gas.

He was able to constantly keep the pressure on the Cardinals offense and while the Nittany Lions only finished with one sack, they were also able to record six tackles for loss.

It was a big day all around for the Nittany Lions and they have all the momentum in the world heading into their whiteout game against Auburn on Saturday, Sept. 18.


Logan Bourandas is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email