Gritty, Not Pretty: No. 14 Penn State Perseveres Over Central Michigan 33-14

Story posted September 24, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Zach Donaldson

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – No. 14 Penn State rode a resilient offensive effort and a takeaway-filled defensive output to a 33-14 victory over Central Michigan on Saturday at Beaver Stadium.

There are two undefeated records that remain intact with the win. James Franklin moves to 9-0 all-time as a head coach against the MAC, and Penn State improves to 4-0 overall.

Central Michigan put up a fight, as the score was knotted at 14 a piece for a solid chunk of the second quarter. The Nittany Lions stormed out to a 14-0 lead in the first 10 minutes but stifled as the half progressed, while the Chippewas picked up the pace responding with 14 points of their own. Penn State made second-half adjustments, mainly on the defensive end and were able to pull away in the end.

Although it was nonorthodox fashion, the slow start makes some sense. The Nittany Lions entered this game exiting off a huge win at Jordan-Hare Stadium against the Auburn Tigers and ahead of Big Ten play.

“I think most importantly we’re 1-0,” Franklin said. “During the game, we weren’t as consistent as we need to be with some of the things that we’re doing in all three phases… We did enough to be 1-0 this week, but there’s still a ton we have to get corrected between now and next Saturday.”

Sean Clifford was efficient on the stat sheet, completing 65% of his passes, tossing one touchdown to Mitchell Tinsley, two to Brenton Strange and taking one in himself. But it still felt like he left a lot to be desired, as he made a few poor throws and reads in the first half and was sloppy for a sixth-year senior. The offensive line and the rushing attack finally began to aid him in the second, however and he turned things around.

Kaytron Allen scored the game-winning touchdown ahead of the halftime buzzer, and stole the show on the ground registering 13 carries for 111 yards and the one score.

“I don’t think there’s anyone in that locker room that’s surprised with Kaytron’s success,” Franklin said. “He’s got really good vision, really good contact balance and a really good understanding of how to set blocks up… When you’re able to do that, and have the toughness that he has, he can consistently get eight to twelve yards which is what we need.”

Nick Singleton took a step back this week for his standards, setting a career-high in carries with 12 but only collecting 42 yards out of it. Allen did the opposite, crossing the 100-yard threshold for the first time in his career. It’s the third straight week that Penn State has had a 100-yard rusher after Singleton did it the past two.

“I think [Allen and Singleton] are two really good complimentary pieces,” Franklin said. “We’ve got two young backs that are doing some really good things to build on.”

The youth on the defensive side of the ball shined for the Nittany Lions as well.

Penn State collected four turnovers on the afternoon, two of which were by underclassmen. Zakee Wheatley, a.k.a. the Takeaway King snagged his second interception in as many games, and Kalen King forced and recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter. Johnny Dixon snatched his team-leading third interception of the season in the second quarter as well.

The fourth and final takeaway was courtesy of Barney Amor, who sent a moon shot into the atmosphere of Beaver Stadium. His punt sailed 51 yards to the Central Michigan 10-yard line where it was muffed by the Chippewas’ Jordyn Williams and recovered by Curtis Jacobs.

“Having somebody like Barney [and all of our specialists], they’re really important to our team and our success and we appreciate them a lot,” Strange said.

Amor, on a day where Penn State’s kickers struggled missing two field goals and one extra point, made his impact felt in a positive way and helped out both units tremendously. Central Michigan constantly faced unfavorable field position and in turn, provided Penn State favorable field position on the flip side.

Amor has had an excellent start to the season and continued it against the Chippewas with his powerful leg and pinpoint precision.

It wasn’t the prettiest of performances, but Penn State got the job done against Central Michigan.

The Nittany Lions enter into conference play with a unblemished record, and are back at Beaver Stadium to take on the Northwestern Wildcats at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1.

Zach Donaldson is a fifth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email