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Keyvone Lee’s Career Performance A Catalyst For Penn State’s First Win

Penn State football won a game, folks.

The Nittany Lions beat Michigan 27-17 Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor backed by a dominant running game that was the focal point of the offense for the full 60 minutes.

Penn State totaled a season-high 254 yards on the ground and wore Michigan’s defense down throughout the game.

True freshman Keyvone Lee led the way for the Nittany Lions in this one. With Devyn Ford unavailable due to a death in the family, Lee made his first-career start and totaled 22 carries for 134 yards (6.1 yards per attempt), which was by far the best game by a Penn State running back all season.

Additionally, Lee got Penn State on the board with a six-yard touchdown on its opening drive.

After coming into the season at the bottom of the depth chart, Lee surprised a lot of people with his dominant performance, perhaps even head coach James Franklin.

“He has showed flashes since he got here, him and Caziah [Holmes], have showed flashes that we were excited about,” Franklin said. “But again, for me to sit here and say that I saw this coming — it’s just hard to say cause the reps were so limited.”

Lee’s 134 yards on the ground are the most by a Penn State true freshman running back since Saquon Barkley’s 194-yard performance against Ohio State in 2015.

Center Michal Menet has been blocking for Lee ever since he arrived in Happy Valley earlier this fall. He sees the improvements Lee has made to his game.

“I think the biggest thing for him and why he’s starting to see a little more success more and more each game is just cause his understanding of the game is improving,” Menet said. “And it’s something you can see, whether it’s the cuts that he makes or kinda just his vision running the football.

“You know he’s always going to run hard, and if he can couple that with a greater understanding of the game I think he’s gonna be really dangerous, and he’s starting to be,” Menet added.

Redshirt senior wideout Isaac Lutz had nothing but good things to say about Lee after the game, complimenting his all-around ability.

“The first thing you notice is how big his legs are,” Lutz said. “They’re massive. He runs hard in between the tackles, a little bit like Noah Cain. Like he’s able to bounce off and get yards after contact and what not and I think he’s really good at finding those little creases and just falling forward too.”

Sean Clifford had a front row seat to Lee’s performance and was impressed with what he saw from the true freshman.

“[Keyvone Lee] did a really good job of hittin [the holes] when they were there, and then bouncing it when he had to too,” Clifford said. “We have a lot of trust in both [Keyvone] and [Caziah Holmes]. I’m excited for them and their futures here.”

Clifford himself contributed quite nicely on the ground. The redshirt junior ran the ball nine times for 73 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown came late in the first half on a 28-yard run.

Clifford had another highlight-reel run when he got to show off his speed.

Caziah Holmes and Will Levis both contributed to Penn State’s dominant ground game Saturday afternoon. Holmes totaled 34 rushing yards, while Levis accounted for one of Penn State’s three rushing touchdowns on the day.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a sophomore majoring in journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He grew up in Lindenhurst, NY and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]


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