Penn State Defeats Buffalo Despite Inconsistency in 45-13 Victory
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – After a poorly played first half, the 15th-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions turned things around in the second half, en route to a 45-13 victory of the Buffalo Bulls.
It was a slow start to the game as Penn State’s offense in particular struggled to move the ball, only gaining 56 yards of total offense in the first quarter. Yet, Penn State had the lead due to a fumble that senior linebacker Cam Brown forced and recovered, which set up a 28-yard dime from Sean Clifford to sophomore receiver Jahan Dotson. It was Dotson’s first career touchdown, and made the score 7-0.
Penn State’s offensive struggles continued in the second quarter, which was filled with penalties and frustration. One great play saw Clifford scrambling between defenders before finding KJ Hamler for a huge gain, but it was called back for an ineligible man downfield. Meanwhile, the Buffalo offense put together two long scoring drives that resulted in a touchdown and a field goal. Buffalo quarterback Matt Meyers looked sharp in the first half, going 7/13 for 106 yards.
In the third quarter, Penn State’s offense continued to struggle, as freshman back Ricky Slade fumbled the ball deep into a drive, which Buffalo recovered. However, not long after that, John Reid jumped on an out-breaking route and intercepted Meyers’ pass, taking it to the house to give Penn State a 14-10 lead. This play completely changed the game and gave Penn State all the momentum.
“It was a huge play from a momentum perspective,” head coach James Franklin said, “It got the fans going, it got our sideline going…we were able to go on a pretty good run from that point on.”
Aside from a 10-play Buffalo drive that ended in a field goal, the Nittany Lions completely controlled the game the rest of the way. Clifford found sophomore tight end Pat Freiermuth for a pair of touchdowns, one of which featured a one-handed catch by Freiermuth.
Penn State’s defense also stiffened up in the second half, neutralizing Meyers. Buffalo only scored three points in the half, and Meyers only ended up completing just over half of his passes.
The overall message from Franklin after the game was consistency.
“Offensively, we have to be more consistent,” Franklin said. “We were very explosive…but not consistent. It was either touchdown or three-and-out.”
The defense, although relatively strong, still has some areas that Franklin wants to work on as well.
“We’ve got to be able to make (defensive) adjustments throughout the game,” Franklin said. “We’ve got to be able to make adjustments sooner on the defensive side of the ball.”
The Nittany Lions will be back at Beaver Stadium next week as they take on their in-state rival, the Pittsburgh Panthers, on Saturday at noon.
Mitch Broder is a sophomore majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.