Defense Defeats Offense 17-13 In 2022 Blue-White Nail-Biter
Penn State’s 2022 Blue-White game looked different this year. As head coach James Franklin reported prior to the game, depth issues with the offensive line led to a reformatting of the usual spring game.
Donning white, the offense took on the defense, who wore blue. An alternative scoring system was instituted, allowing defenses to score points on turnovers, forced punts, and three-and-outs. The defense capitalized on their ability to score points, turning the game in their favor with multiple sacks and drive-killing tackles. Blue ended the day with a 17-13 victory over White.
The exhibition game allowed Penn State fans to get their first look at the Class of 2022 signees, including Drew Allar, Nick Singleton, and Zane Durant.
How It Happened
The first snaps began inside the five-yard line, with Sean Clifford starting behind center. This was the first of multiple segments that did not count toward the final score. Former five-star recruit and true freshman running back Nick Singleton started the running backs off for the day. A handoff to Singleton allowed him to hit pay dirt for the first time inside Beaver Stadium.
The first drive of the game saw a run-heavy approach from Team White. Keyvone Lee received handoffs on a majority of the plays, with Clifford finding the occasional pass or scramble. White moved the ball confidently and eventually found sophomore wide receiver Malick Meiga for a touchdown pass before it was called back for holding. The offense would not be denied though, as No. 14 found No. 5 for the game’s first score. This time, however, that No. 5 was recent transfer Mitchell Tinsley, who is expected to have a strong impact in his first season with the Nittany Lions.
Christian Veilleux was the next quarterback out on the field. Two drives, paired with Kaytron Allen and Nick Singleton, both ended in three-and-outs and points for Team Blue. Mistakes from the offense and confidence from the defense were on display through the six plays.
Drew Allar, the nation’s No. 1 ranked quarterback recruit in the Class of 2022, took his first Beaver Stadium snaps in a situational segment. In his first three throws, Allar threw two incompletions and an interception, after 2022 signee Omari Evans juggled a pass. The interception, caught by linebacker Bobby Walchak, brought Team Blue another three points and tied the game 7-7.
After the break, running back Devyn Ford took the backfield next to Allar. Allar completed his first pass of the day on a wide-open pass to Jaden Dottin over the middle of the field. Team Blue sacked Allar and eventually forced a punt, bringing the defense another three points. Blue ended the drive with their first lead of the game at 10-7.
A brief segment of 7-on-7 drills took place before halftime, with points not counting towards the final score. Clifford took the section’s first snaps, finding the end zone twice. Elsewhere, redshirt freshman wide receiver Harrison Wallace III caught an impressive 50-50 ball for a touchdown, and Allar connected with four-star signee Kaden Saunders for what could be the first of many touchdowns from the duo. Beau Pribula finished up the drill, getting some of his first work of the day.
A brief 7-on-7 segment opened the second half. Allar took the lead at quarterback, but his time on the field ended after he threw his second interception of the day. This time, it came on a throw directly to redshirt freshman linebacker Dominic DeLuca.
Clifford began the 11-on-11 portion of the half. After experiencing some mild success, the defense rallied and held the offense to a field goal attempt. Redshirt freshman kicker Sander Sahaydak drilled a 47-yard field goal to cut White’s deficit in half, bringing the score to 13-10.
Veilleux returned on the next drive. His tough day continued, as Blue was able to record another sack. The defense increased their lead to 15-10 before another field goal from White cut Blue’s lead to two. The score was 15-13, heading into the final scoring segment.
Allar started the final segment with a huge scramble, setting White up in field goal position. Another scramble, this time from true freshman Beau Pribula put the offense near the goal line. A contested pass on the final play of the game from Pribula was broken up by Blue, giving Blue the last-second 17-13 win.
- Gatorade National Player of the Year Nick Singleton took the day’s first snaps at running back. Though his touchdown on the first play did not count towards the score, it’s still noteworthy that he took first-team reps. The true freshman has been impressing in spring practices and looks poised to have an immediate impact.
- Elsewhere at running back, sophomore Keyvone Lee received lots of work in the first 11-on-11 drive. With returning starter Sean Clifford at quarterback, Lee got the ball on a majority of the offense’s first plays. Despite the Nittany Lions’ run game struggles in 2021, Lee led the team in rushing attempts (108) and yards (530). His busy day is likely a sign of support from the Penn State coaching staff.
- Sean Clifford was easily the most comfortable quarterback in Beaver Stadium today. In February, head coach James Franklin announced Clifford would be returning as the starter in 2022. Clifford had the most productive day and avoided a lot of the mistakes that his younger counterparts made throughout the day.
- Former five-star recruit and quarterback Drew Allar was the third quarterback to take the field in the Blue-White game. In his first full drive, he threw two incompletions and an interception, though the pick was juggled by fellow true freshman Omari Evans. Later, Allar threw another interception– this time, directly at an opposing linebacker. Allar is young and still has time to grow, but it’s growth he will certainly need before he sees the field. Christian Veilleux, who took presumable backup snaps at quarterback, had a bad day. Characterized by numerous overthrows, Veilleux’s rocky performance could open the door to a more robust competition for the backup job.
The Nittany Lions will next return to the gridiron for the 2022 football season. Penn State will open its year in a Big Ten matchup at Purdue on Thursday, September 1. As a result of a reported trade between networks earlier this spring, the game will be televised on FOX.
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About the Author
Nittany Lions old and new have received new jersey numbers ahead of the 2022 season.