Penn State Ousts Purdue in Emphatic Second-Half Onslaught
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The atmospheres of the past two games for Penn State football could not have been more different. Going from a sold-out crowd of 107,000 in Beaver Stadium to a sparse Purdue crowd of around 33,000 makes for a tough transition.
Going from a huge win at home over one of the top teams in the country to facing a struggling team with an interim head coach and nothing to lose is not an easy switch to make either.
Regardless of a sloppy first half, the Penn State Nittany Lions (6-2, 4-1 Big Ten) ran away with the game in the second half, beating the Purdue Boilermakers (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) 62-24 on Saturday afternoon.
Penn State came out firing on all cylinders on offense, capping off an 85-yard drive with a 3-yard Saquon Barkley touchdown run on the game’s first possession.
The Nittany Lion defense, however, was not nearly on the same level as the offensive unit.
Purdue took over at its own 23, methodically drove 77 yards on 10 plays and tied the game at seven with a Markell Jones run after penalties on three straight plays in the red zone on the Penn State defense.
The Nittany Lions went three-and-out on their next possession, and Purdue followed up with a 13 play, 55-yard touchdown drive to take the lead, 14-7.
Penn State found its stride again on its first possession of the second quarter. A quick 82-yard drive, resulting in a 38-yard touchdown catch-and-run for Chris Godwin, tied the game back up at 14.
The Nittany Lions and Boilermakers each added a field goal before half and went to the break tied at 17. It was a sloppy first half, with 12 penalties being called between the two teams (seven on Penn State, five on Purdue).
“Early in the game we just made too many mistakes,” said Penn State head coach James Franklin. “We’ve been one of the most disciplined teams in the country, and we had too many penalties. We had more penalties in the first quarter than we typically have the whole game.”
The struggling Penn State defense came up big in their first series of the second half, as Brandon Smith intercepted a David Blough pass on third down and returned into the Purdue 22-yard line.
Three straight handoffs to Saquon Barkley (207 yards rushing, 2 TD rushing, 70 yards receiving) got Penn State to the 1-yard line, and Trace McSorley found Chris Godwin in the end zone for the short touchdown pass, giving Penn State a 24-17 lead early in the second half.
Later in the third, a Nittany Lion drive stalled out, and it looked like Purdue would re-take some of the momentum. But the Boilermakers muffed a punt and Penn State recovered the ball to take over at the Purdue 24-yard line. After a 20-yard Saquon Barkley run, Andre Robinson took it the rest of the way with a 4-yard touchdown carry, putting Penn State up 31-17.
Penn State would make it 34-17, and Purdue answered with a 62-yard touchdown pass from Blough to DeAngelo Yancey to make it 34-24.
From there on out, it was all Nittany Lions. Penn State would go on to score 28 unanswered points, highlighted by an 81-yard touchdown run by Barkley, Penn State’s longest since 2014.
After the game, McSorley spoke about what changed in the second half.
“For whatever reason, we had a kind of different sense of urgency,” the sophomore quarterback said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to get that sense of urgency in the first half, cause we’re not going to be able to be a second half team all of the time.”
Penn State’s 62 points were the most since it put up 66 in a victory over Coastal Carolina to open the 2008 season.
The win also made the Nittany Lions bowl eligible for the third straight season.
Penn State returns home next Saturday to play host to the Iowa Hawkeyes for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Beaver Stadium.
John McHugh is a senior majoring broadcast journalism. You can contact John at email@example.com.