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Penn State Survives Early Struggles, Beats Buffalo 27-14

Talk about a turn-around.

After a deflating 27-10 loss in the season-opener last Saturday at Temple, Penn State football looked like it was in a bad place. Fortunately, playing its first game at home against the Buffalo Bulls was just what the doctor ordered. The Nittany Lions were the better team in every facet of the game, and even broke off some highlight reel plays on the way to the 27-14 win.

How It Happened

Unlike last week’s first quarter, Penn State came out flat against the Bulls. It took three drives to get its first down, while the Bulls had no problem marching down the field but fortunately missed a field goal. Once the chains started moving though, they really started moving. The most promising drive of the first quarter ended with a Joey Julius field goal that had the distance, but sailed wide right. Through one quarter, Akeel Lynch had more carries (11) than he did in all of last week’s game.

Buffalo started off the second quarter with a solid drive downfield, but Austin Johnson ended it quickly. After punting to the 19-yard line, Penn State’s offense got to work — and by that we mean it called a timeout immediately after a media timeout, then threw an incomplete screen pass, then ran the ball twice for no yards! Unsurprisingly, the stadium filled up with boos immediately — but then the entire game turned around.

A few possessions later, Buffalo punted to speedster DeAndre Thompkins, who returned it 58 yards to Buffalo’s 25. Two plays later, Brandon Polk took an end-around (good call, John Donovan!) to the house to put Penn State ahead 7-0. Buffalo’s next possession came to an end quickly, as Zettel batted a pass into Nassib’s hands to set up an offensive possession in the red zone. Of course, the field position resulted in a field goal with four minutes to go in the half. The half came to a close with Penn State driving, but not finding the end zone before time ran out.

The Bulls received to start the second half, but only possessed the ball for two and a half minutes before punting back to the Nittany Lions. Underwhelming offense by both sides were the story early in the quarter, until Buffalo broke off a long drive that included a fourth-down conversion, then went on to narrow the margin to 10-7 with a 14-yard touchdown pass.

The Lions responded with a long field goal drive. The drive featured a first-and-goal from the five-yard line, but dropped passes from Gesicki and a breakup in front of Kyle Carter held the team to three points.

After a few fruitless possessions from both teams, the Saquon Barkley Show came to town. He saw most of his carries in the second half, but still tallied more than 100 yards and a score. Chris Godwin showed off his abilities in the receiving game, and although Buffalo led a long scoring drive towards the end of the quarter, Barkley had no problems running out the clock once he was cut loose.

Player of the Game

Austin Johnson registered a new career-high in tackles and also set the pace for the entire game. The defensive line stood out today and played the way everyone expected. Sickels, Zettel, Johnson, and Nassib (who had an interception) were all difference-makers in the game. However, Saquon Barkley should be considered too, because…

Tweet of the Game

What’s Next?

Penn State is back in town next weekend to take on Rutgers at 8 p.m. in the first Stripe-Out at Beaver Stadium.

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About the Author

Doug Leeson

Doug is a sophomore and Onward State's Assistant Managing Editor. Dislikes: popcorn, Rutgers, and a low #TimberCount. Likes: "Frozen," Rec Hall, and you. Contact him via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @DougLeeson.

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