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Rain a factor, but not an excuse for ball security in Penn State’s tight victory over Northwestern

Story posted October 2, 2022 in

It was a gritty, far from pretty effort for Penn State in its 17-7 win against Northwestern.

In the blue and white’s conference home opener, the remnants of Hurricane Ian made its way to State College.

The rain started about an hour before kickoff and picked up during a majority of the game.

Whether the Nittany Lions choose to admit it or not, the weather made its impact felt during Penn State’s win.

During the Nittany Lions’ first four contests, they had dominated in the turnover margin with their last giveaway coming against Purdue in Week 1.

On Saturday, the Nittany Lions had five turnovers, four of them being fumbles.

Freshman running back Nicholas Singleton had two in the first half alone and was seen mostly in just his kick return duties after his second miscue.

Sophomore running back Keyvone Lee had one of his own in the first quarter, and after being absent in the first half, freshman Kaytron Allen added the final one in the second half.

While holding onto the football had not been an issue prior to this game, Penn State coach James Franklin emphasized that the weather does not excuse those mistakes.

“I’m never going to allow the weather to be an excuse,” Franklin said. “We’ve got to protect the football.”

Along with the turnovers, the weather changed up how the offense was run for the blue and white.

The Nittany Lions ran the ball a combined 58 times compared to just 20 pass attempts from Sean Clifford.

Only two receivers had multiple receptions throughout the game with Parker Washington leading the way with four catches for 73 yards.

While ball security in these types of games is tough on the skill position players, it’s especially so on the man under center.

Clifford had a season low in both passing yards and completion percentage while throwing his first interception in four games.

For the sixth-year senior however, all that matters is adding another one to the win column.

“It’s one of those where you just get a win,” Clifford said. “It was gritty, the rain was so on and off today that it was tough to get in the flow, but we’re 5-0 and that’s all that matters.”

With Hurricane Ian continuing to progress throughout the week, the possibility of the weather being the way it was always existed.

Franklin mentioned that weather-wise, things went about as he predicted.

“The information I got early in the week played out the way it did tonight,” Franklin said. “I got a report about an hour before the game as well.”

Despite the closer score, the Nittany Lions will hope to jump inside the top 10 as they head into their bye week before heading to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to take on the Michigan Wolverines.

Logan Bourandas is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email lxb5412@psu.edu.