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Noah Cain Impresses In Penn State’s 35-7 Victory Over Purdue

When Penn State football scored touchdowns on all of its first four possessions against Purdue, it felt like fans were in store for another offensive clinic similar to the one put on in Maryland last week.

This was certainly not the case, as the Nittany Lions went on a 38:33-long scoring drought after their fourth touchdown. The score that broke the streak was a two-yard touchdown run from freshman running back Noah Cain.

Cain was truly the lone bright spot of Penn State’s offense during the second half. He led the team with 105 rushing yards on the day and led all four of Penn State’s running backs with 25 receiving yards, which was also the third-most on the entire team.

Head coach James Franklin was very proud of the true freshman after Saturday’s win.

“[Noah] just continues to get better and play with more confidence,” Franklin said. “He’s very decisive in how he runs. He sticks his foot in the ground, gets North to South, and breaks tackles.”

Cain’s 12 carries on the day were the most he’s gotten all season. He earned most of those opportunities on Penn State’s only scoring drive of the second half, in which he quite literally carried the offense down the field. Of Penn State’s seven plays from scrimmage on that drive, five of them were runs by Cain, including 16- and 27-yard rushes, and a touchdown.

While Franklin still remains set on sticking to a rotation in the backfield, it’s hard to image that the true freshman didn’t separate himself a bit from the other #LawnBoyz with today’s performance. In fact, his play all season should be reason enough for him to be getting more carries.

With 41.6 rushing yards per game, Cain is second only to Journey Brown for the highest average on the team. He also leads the team’s running backs with five touchdowns on the season.

Aside from these numbers, Cain has been one of the more consistent receiving options out of the backfield for Sean Clifford. He has the second-most receiving yards for running backs on the season with 47. His shiftiness and strength combine to make him a tough tackle in the open field, so that makes him a valuable safety valve for his quarterback.

[Noah]’s been able to put power behind his elusiveness,” redshirt sophomore wideout KJ Hamler said. “It’s rare for him to ever fall backwards [when he gets hit].”

Franklin mentioned that Journey Brown was able to move himself to the top of the depth chart after a few successful weeks. While this may not be the case for Cain just yet, it would make sense to give him double-digit carries again next week against Iowa considering how much of a spark he brought to an otherwise pedestrian second-half offense.

While Franklin said he will stick with his four-man rotation, Cain could get more opportunities in the future.

“Obviously, after today you could make some arguments to put Noah at the top of the depth chart,” Franklin said. “I still think we’re going to play four guys, but there could be a guy that’s the lead starter. I don’t want to sit here and proclaim a decision has been made before we discuss it with the staff and the players.”

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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