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No. 11 Penn State Dominates Ball State In 44-13 Win

No. 11 Penn State football (2-0, 1-0 Big Ten) dominated Ball State (1-1) in its home opener Saturday, beating the Cardinals 44-13 at Beaver Stadium.

The Nittany Lions came out firing offensively, immediately jumping out to a 14-0 lead within the first 10 minutes of the game. Penn State’s defense continued to play stellar football as well, which helped contribute to an impressive all-around performance from James Franklin’s squad.

With Saturday’s win, Penn State now carries significant momentum into next week’s White Out game against No. 25-ranked Auburn.

How It Happened

Penn State won the opening coin toss and deferred its choice to the second half, which put Brent Pry’s defense on the field to start the game. It was a dominant opening drive for the defensive unit, as it forced a quick three and out to give Sean Clifford and the offense the ball.

The Nittany Lions came out firing offensively with a nice balance between the run and pass. Noah Cain powered his way through Ball State’s defense all drive, and he finished it off with a five-yard touchdown to put Penn State up 7-0 with 10:01 left in the first quarter.

After another Ball State three and out, Penn State’s offense kept rolling, folks. Following a few first downs, Clifford connected with Keyvone Lee for a 24-yard gain to set the Nittany Lions up inside the Cardinals’ 10-yard line.

Two plays later, Clifford lined up under center and sneaked the ball in from a yard out to give Penn State a 14-0 lead with 5:53 remaining in the quarter.

On the ensuing drive, the Cardinals finally moved the chains twice to move the ball into Penn State’s territory. Then, on 4th and 4 from Penn State’s 43-yard line, Ball State quarterback Drew Plitt found Carson Steele for a 21-yard gain to move the chains. The first quarter ended with Ball State facing 2nd and 9 from Penn State’s nine-yard line.

Penn State’s defense held strong to force a Jake Chanove 24-yard field goal attempt. He converted to make it a 14-3 game with 14:25 left in the first half.

Mike Yurcich’s offense had no problem responding, as Penn State continued to stack first downs and march down the field. The Cardinals, to their credit, held the Nittany Lions to a 45-yard field goal attempt. Jordan Stout drilled it to give Penn State a 17-3 lead with 11:22 to play in the first half.

The two teams exchanged punts, and the Cardinals started the drive on their own 35-yard line. On 3rd and 9, Curtis Jacobs sacked Plitt for a nine-yard loss, leading Ball State to punt the ball back to the Nittany Lions.

Sean Clifford looked sharp on Penn State’s next drive, as he completed three passes for 51 yards, including a 25-yard screen pass to Jahan Dotson that he took into the end zone for a touchdown. Stout converted the extra point, and the Nittany Lions took a 24-3 lead with 2:50 remaining in the half.

However, Ball State showed some resiliency on the ensuing drive, as it drove down the field and made a 23-yard field goal to cut the lead to 24-6 going into halftime.

It was the Keyvone Lee show to start the third quarter, folks. The sophomore took four straight carries for four consecutive first downs, which put the Nittany Lions in field goal range. However, Stout missed a 45-yard field goal, and the Cardinals took possession.

After the two teams each punted, Ball State took possession on its own 20-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Jesse Luketa reached out and snagged a one-handed interception and took it back for a touchdown. Stout made the extra point to give Penn State a 31-6 lead with 5:56 left in the quarter.

Following a Ball State three and out, Clifford took off on the first play of the drive for a 43-yard gain to set the Nittany Lions up in Cardinals territory. Later in the drive, Stout made a 26-yard field goal to extend Penn State’s lead to 34-6 with 1:53 left in the third quarter.

Penn State’s defensive clinic continued on the next drive, as Daequan Hardy intercepted Plitt’s pass to give the Nittany Lions the ball back. The third quarter ended with Penn State driving in Ball State’s territory.

The Nittany Lions got down to Ball State’s five-yard line, but they had to settle for a 22-yard field goal from Stout. Penn State took a 37-6 lead with 9:59 left in the game.

With Penn State substituting a lot of its defensive starters out of the game, Ball State drove down the field and scored a touchdown to make it 37-13 with 6:58 left in the game.

Ta’Quan Roberson took over at quarterback for Penn State on the next drive, giving Clifford the rest of the game off.

With 2:10 left in the game, Roberson threw his first career touchdown when he found Theo Johnson for a 23-yard score. After the Stout extra point, Penn State extended its lead to 44-13.

Ball State didn’t score the rest of the way, and the Nittany Lions won this one 44-13.

Takeaways

  • It’s good to be home, folks! The Beaver Stadium crowd was fired up from the start and certainly gave the Nittany Lions an extra boost in their first home game with fans since November 30, 2019. It’s just the beginning of a long stretch of home games for Penn State, as it will host three more games in a row at Beaver Stadium starting with next week’s White Out.
  • Sean Clifford was calm, cool, and collected all game long. After going through some ups and downs against Wisconsin, the veteran signal-caller responded with a confident performance against the Cardinals. He completed 73% of his passes, totaled 230 passing yards, and scored two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing). Also, for the second straight game, he didn’t turn the ball over at all, which may be the most significant stat of all.
  • What more can you say about Brent Pry’s defense? The unit has played two dominant games of football thus far this season. In Saturday’s game against Ball State, the Nittany Lions’ defense forced two turnovers, scored a touchdown, and held the Cardinals to just 4.2 yards per play, a number that was much smaller before garbage time.

What’s Next

Penn State will host Auburn next Saturday in the program’s annual White Out game. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ABC.

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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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