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Sean Clifford-Jahan Dotson Dynamic Connection On Full Display In Win Over Indiana

Penn State football shut out Indiana 24-0 Saturday night at Beaver Stadium to win its fifth straight game to open the season.

Paired with a dominant defensive performance, Sean Clifford and Jahan Dotson continued their dynamic quarterback-wide receiver connection by earning themselves a a place in the history books.

In the third quarter, Clifford found Dotson for a 30-yard touchdown to put the Nittany Lions up 21-0.

It was the 18th time Clifford and Dotson connected for a touchdown, which puts them No. 1 in Penn State history, breaking the previous record of 17 by Todd Blackledge and Kenny Jackson.

Dotson totaled eight catches for 84 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s win over Indiana. Clifford tossed three touchdowns and totaled 178 yards through the air.

After the game, head coach James Franklin actually wasn’t aware his two star players made history. Once he found out, he reflected on what it means for the duo.

“We’ve played good football here for a long time,” Franklin said. “Lot of quarterbacks, lot of receivers. There’s been really good football played here for a long time. So, when you can break a record or do something that’s never been done here before, to me, it says something. That’s a great stat, and it’s also really cool that we did it with Todd [Blackledge] was here… It’s awesome.”

Like Franklin said, Blackledge was in fact in the house tonight to witness Clifford and Dotson break his record. Blackledge was in the booth calling the game for ABC, which made the milestone even cooler for the duo.

“That was definitely pretty cool just to have [Todd Blackledge] here,” Dotson said. “To beat his record, it’s pretty cool. Not only are we trying to break his record, we’re trying to shatter it.”

Clifford echoed some of what Dotson said, but he also made sure to credit those around him and stay focused on what’s most important to him and the team.

“Super special,” Clifford said. “Blackledge was an incredible quarterback here. To have a chemistry with a guy, it makes me proud to see all the work that Jahan and I have done. It’s not us though. It’s the offensive line giving us time, it’s play calling, it all of that. The record’s cool, but the coolest record is that we’re undefeated, so that’s really what matters.”

As far as what makes Dotson and Clifford’s connection so special, Franklin believes it’s a combination of the time they’ve played together and the talent they possess.

“I think the combination of Jahan’s talent and the time Sean and Jahan have spent together,” Franklin said. “Whether it’s on the practice field, whether it’s watching film, whether it’s in meetings. And then they’ve played a lot of games…”

“I also think Sean’s ability to extend plays and make plays with his feet puts the defense in conflict,” Franklin continued. “He steps up in the pocket, you got to decide ‘Am I going to stay with my man or am I going to cover Sean?’ And then Jahan really has got a good feel of how to get open in those situations, and the thing I love about him, he’s always working towards the sideline…”

Dotson explained after the game that his bond with Clifford started during the wideout’s sophomore year. He saw the bond former Penn State wideout KJ Hamler had with Clifford, which influenced Dotson’s current relationship with his signal-caller.

Between their work on and off the field, Dotson feels the connection with his quarterback getting better and better.

“It’s growing day-by-day,” Dotson said. “We’re getting closer and closer every single day. Just hanging out with him off the field, the connections, working on the field.”

“He has full trust in me now, I have full trust in him that he’s going to make plays,” Dotson said. “He knows that I can make plays. We’re kind of just out there having fun. It’s literally what we do every single day.”

While the talent is undeniable, Clifford points to the work ethic of the duo that has made them so successful.

“I think it’s just the work ethic we both have,” Clifford said. “The work we’ve put in the past however long we’ve been together. It’s a great connection. Jahan works extremely hard, and it’s something that I pride myself on — is working with him and the other receivers to make sure we have that chemistry. I think me and Jahan have had that for a long time.”

As far as what makes Dotson so good, it’s a combination of his on-field abilities that make him the best wideout in the country, according to Clifford.

“He creates a lot of space,” Clifford said. “In addition to creating space, he catches everything, everything that comes near him. Those two, and then he’s fast. He’s the whole package. He’s the best wide receiver in the country.”

People always talk about the importance of a quarterback and wide receiver’s relationship and what it means on the field. For Clifford and Dotson, they’ve seen their relationship not only grow on the field, but off the field as well.

“On the field, it’s easy to see on the field that we’ve developed a chemistry,” Clifford said. “Off the field too, he’s one of my best friends. Hanging out, typical friend stuff. So, we’ve developed a really good relationship, and you’re seeing it on the field.”

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

After a four-year career with Onward State, Gabe is now a college graduate and off to the real world. He shockingly served as the blog’s managing editor during the 2022-23 school year and covered football for much of his Onward State tenure, including trips to the Outback Bowl and Rose Bowl. For any professional inquiries, please email Gabe at [email protected]. You can still see his bad sports takes on Twitter at @gabeangieri.

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