Penn State Opens Season with Dominant Win over Idaho
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State football opened its 2019 season on Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium against the Idaho Vandals in the first ever matchup between the two programs. The Nittany Lions dominated to say the least, defeating the opposition 79-7.
A plethora of questions are awaiting head coach James Franklin and his team this season – most notably on the offensive side of the ball. Former quarterback and holder of numerous school records Trace McSorley and running back Miles Sanders are now in the NFL. Many came into Saturday wondering how first-time starters Sean Clifford and Ricky Slade would be able to fill the shoes of their predecessors.
It was a dominant first quarter from the Nittany Lions. After Idaho failed to convert a fourth-and-1 on their own 34-yard line, Penn State cashed in with a 28-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Jake Pinegar.
Idaho continued to struggle on both offense and special teams. A 51-yard field goal from transfer kicker Jordan Stout doubled the Nittany Lion lead to 6-0.
Shortly after that, the flood gates opened. A couple sloppy drives from the Penn State offense were quickly forgotten when sophomore running back Journey Brown and sophomore running back Ricky Slade scored on 23- and 1-yard touchdown runs respectively. The Nittany Lions outgained Idaho 112 to 3 in total yards throughout the opening interval.
Coach Franklin said, “It seemed like they (Penn State running backs) played really well obviously, based on the statistics and just the flow of the game.”
Penn State’s onslaught continued in the second quarter. It was Clifford’s turn to get in on the action. He and sophomore receiver KJ Hamler connected for two touchdown passes of 36 and 21 yards. Add on an 81-yard touchdown run from freshman back Devyn Ford and a 38-yard Pinegar field goal, and the Nittany Lions found themselves up 44-0 at halftime.
It was also nothing short of a dominant performance for the Penn State defense, which held the Vandals to 47 yards and only a single first down. Junior defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos led the way with 2.5 sacks, while sophomore safety Lamont Wade accumulated the most tackles with four.
The Nittany Lions kept their foot on the gas in the second half. Less than two minutes into the third quarter, Journey Brown found the end zone for the second time. This 2-yard scamper made it 51-0.
This was the end of the day for most of the starters. Clifford finished 14 of 23 with 280 yards, two touchdowns and an additional 57 rushing yards.
Coach Franklin said: “I thought after those first two drives, [Clifford] really settled down and got comfortable. I thought he managed the game really well.”
However, this would not be the end of Penn State’s offensive production. Freshman running back Noah Cain had two touchdown runs of his own, and backup quarterback Will Levis had a touchdown pass to freshman tight end Brenton Strange.
With an additional touchdown run by junior Nick Eury, the Nittany Lions posted an astounding 79 points on Saturday. All of this was accomplished while the Penn State defense held Idaho to only 145 total yards, a mere four of which were on the ground, while also accumulating seven sacks.
One of the only negative takeaways for the Nittany Lions was on special teams, where Mac Hippenhammer had two fumbles, one of which was recovered by Idaho, setting up the Vandals’ only scoring drive.
While there are certainly tougher tests ahead of the Nittany Lions, they had a near perfect start to the season.
Coach Franklin said: “Overall, obviously I think we did some good things. There’s obviously going to be a bunch of stuff on tape that we need to get cleaned up.”
The Nittany Lions will be back at Beaver Stadium next Saturday night when they host the Buffalo Bulls at 7:30 p.m.
Andre Magaro is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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