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Penn State Wins First Game Of Season 27-17 Over Michigan

Penn State football (1-5) finally picked up its first win of the season Saturday afternoon, beating Michigan (2-4) 27-17 in Ann Arbor.

James Franklin’s squad started off fast for the first time all year and took a 17-7 lead into halftime. The Nittany Lions had continued success into the second half and were able to close this game out.

Sean Clifford started at quarterback and got the job done in order to get the Nittany Lions a win.

How It Happened

Michigan won the toss and deferred to the second half, which gave Sean Clifford and the offense the ball to start the game. Devyn Ford missed today’s game and Keyvone Lee started the game in the backfield.

Parker Washington made an early impact with an impressive catch and run to give Penn State a first down.

Lee dominated on the opening drive with seven carries for 39 yards and finished the drive with a six-yard touchdown to put the Nittany Lions up 7-0 with 10:50 left in the first quarter.

On the next drive, the Wolverines went for it on fourth down on Penn State’s 42-yard line. Marquis Wilson broke up Cade McNamara’s pass over the middle to give Kirk Ciarrocca’s offense the ball back.

Penn State caught a break when Parker Washington’s fumble that was returned for a touchdown was overturned, as replay deemed Washington’s knee was down before he fumbled.

The Nittany Lions couldn’t capitalize when Jordan Stout missed a 49-yard field goal with 2:32 left in the first quarter to keep the score 7-0.

Michigan quickly entered the red zone with a 61-yard run by Hassan Haskins to set the Wolverines up on the nine-yard line. Haskins punched it into the end zone a few plays later with a two-yard run to tie the game up 7-7 going into the second quarter.

The two teams traded punts, however, Joe Milton checked in at quarterback after McNamara went to the locker room with an apparent injury.

Clifford was hit low on the next drive and stayed on the ground holding his left leg. Will Levis checked in for the next play and wasn’t able to pick up a first down, forcing the Nittany Lions to punt.

Michigan went three and out and Clifford led the offense back on the field. The Nittany Lions once again relied on the ground game on the next drive, as Clifford finished the drive with a 28-yard touchdown run to put Penn State up 14-7 with 3:32 left in the half.

The teams traded punts again, but the Wolverines muffed the punt return and the ball bounced right into Drew Hartlaub’s arms to give Penn State the ball on Michigan’s 27-yard line with 1:15 left in the first half.

Michigan’s defense held Penn State to a 23-yard field goal attempt, which Jake Pinegar converted to put the Nittany Lions up 17-7 heading into halftime.

McNamara, who came back out on the field at the end of the first half, led Michigan’s offense back out on the field to begin the second half. The Wolverines put a nice looking drive together, but it stalled at Penn State’s 22-yard line. Jake Moody converted on a 40-yard field goal to cut the lead to 17-10 with 9:10 left in the third quarter.

After each team punted, Penn State’s offense got it going. Clifford broke free for a 29-yard run on third down to put the Nittany Lions on Michigan’s 23-yard line.

However, Penn State had to settle for another Pinegar field goal, which made it a 20-10 game with 40 seconds left in the third quarter.

Michigan drove right down the field on the ensuing drive, finishing the drive with a Haskins two-yard touchdown run to cut Penn State’s lead to 20-17 with 13:12 left in the game.

The Nittany Lions dominated the next drive on the ground. The offense totaled 54 rushing yards on the drive, which included a 24-yarder from Lee. On the 12th play of the drive, Levis checked into the game and ran it in from two yards out to put Penn State up 27-17 with 8:12 remaining in the game.

Brent Pry’s defense appeared to have forced a turnover on the next drive, but an “illegal bat” penalty kept the ball with Michigan. Milton checked back into the game in favor of McNamara, who appeared to be favoring his injured arm.

Michigan faced a fourth down and one at Penn State’s 37-yard line and came up short on a Milton run. The Nittany Lions took over with 5:37 left in the game.

Penn State milked the clock on the next drive with Lee and Levis driving the ball down the field. The game ended with Penn State kneeling the ball, ending the game 27-17.


  • Fast starts help out a lot, folks. After not leading at halftime the entire season, James Franklin’s squad finally got off to a fast start on both sides of the ball. The Nittany Lions took a 17-7 lead heading into halftime, totaling 241 yards compared to Michigan’s 160.
  • Penn State’s running game was the focal point of the offense. The Nittany Lions totaled 254 rushing yards led by Keyvone Lee’s 134 yards and a touchdown. Clifford added 73 yards and a touchdown on the ground as well.
  • Have a day, Parker Washington. The true freshman was Clifford’s go-to target all day long, as he totaled nine receptions for 93 yards. He accounted for more than half of Clifford’s completions.
  • Penn State’s pass defense showed up in a big way today. Brent Pry’s defense held Michigan’s quarterbacks to 112 yards through the air and allowed them to complete just 46% of their passes.

What’s Next

Penn State will remain on the road next week when it travels to Piscataway to take on Rutgers at SHI Stadium. The time and channel of the game are currently unknown.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a junior majoring in journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, 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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