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Penn State Smashes Ohio 46-10 In 2022 Home Opener

Penn State football (2-0, 1-0 Big Ten) crushed Ohio (1-1) in its home opener Saturday, with a 46-10 victory over the Bobcats at Beaver Stadium.

Efficiency was the name of the game for the Nittany Lions, as quarterback Sean Clifford led the way with 213 passing yards at a 70% clip and running back Nick Singleton totaled 179 rushing yards and two touchdowns on a 17.9 yard average. Five-star true freshman Drew Allar also made his home debut, torching the Bobcats for 88 yards and two touchdowns on 6-of-8 passing.

Saturday’s win brings Penn State much-needed momentum ahead of a dangerous battle on the road against Auburn next week, as well as more fuel on the fiery Clifford-Allar debate.

How It Happened

Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz brought the heat on the Bobcats’ first drive, sending multiple linebackers and defensive backs on blitzes. After a fourth-down conversion and a 15-yard Sean Clifford scramble, the Nittany Lions scored a touchdown on their first drive with a goal line sneak to go up 7-0.

On the first play of Penn State’s second drive, true freshman running back Nick Singleton broke off a 70-yard run for his first career touchdown. The Nittany Lions took a 14-0 lead with less than two and a half minutes remaining in the first quarter.

A huge punt from Barney Amor was downed at the one yard line, setting up the Nittany Lion defense to force a fumble and secure a safety for a 16-0 lead and the ball.

Jake Pinegar hit his first field goal of the season for a 19-0 lead with 5:14 left in the first half. Ohio struck back in eight plays with its first scoring drive of the day, characterized by multiple trick plays and missed Penn State tackles. The 19-7 score only held briefly, as Clifford came out slinging. Quick passes gave way to a seven-yard touchdown, as Clifford threaded a needle to Mitchell Tinsley and took a 26-7 lead to effectively end the half.

Penn State received the second half’s opening kickoff and a 48-yard rush from Singleton set the team up for a 42-yard Jake Pinegar field goal attempt, though it missed. The Nittany Lion defense forced Ohio to punt, which led to Drew Allar’s substitution and his first competitive drive in Beaver Stadium.

Early in the drive, Allar stared down a shot from a free defender and completed a pass to keep the chains moving – though roughing the passer flags negated the play. Allar’s first home drive ended with a 32-yard touchdown pass to true freshman Omari Evans, giving Penn State a 33-7 advantage and each freshman his first career score.

After taking too long to find a receiver and taking his first career sack, Allar threw an ambitious third-down attempt into double coverage and brought the drive to a premature end. On the next drive, Singleton again broke away for a huge 44-yard touchdown run. Penn State held a 40-7 lead with 4:33 left in the third quarter.

As the fourth quarter began, Allar and the offense were still rolling towards the end zone. A 28-yard pass to Khalil Dinkins earned Allar his second touchdown pass of the day and a 46-7 Penn State lead, as Pinegar missed the extra point.

After a goal line stand held Ohio to a field goal, Christian Veilleux began warming up on the sideline. On his two drives to close out the game, Veilleux completed 6-of-7 passes for 37 yards, though the team was held scoreless, instead opting to run down the clock.

Takeaways

  • True freshman running back Nick Singleton electrified in the Nittany Lions’ home opener. Every time he touched the ball, it felt like he could break off for a big gain. The 2021 Gatorade National High School Player of the Year had 179 yards and two touchdowns – on a 70-yard rush and a 44-yarder. Singleton outpaced announced starter Keyvone Lee and fellow freshman Kaytron Allen, who both saw significant playing time last week against Purdue. Allen saw six carries (mostly after the starters subbed out) and Lee had a lone carry for no gain. Fan reaction aside, Singleton’s performance was likely enough to earn the first-team nod.
  • Backup quarterback Drew Allar had a similarly noteworthy home debut. In just eight attempts, Allar racked up 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns. While Allar took a bad sack and was quick to exit the pocket, more than once did the true freshman comfortably deal with ensuing pressure. He stared down a strong roughing the passer hit and his second touchdown came on an evasive roll. Allar’s strong showing will likely douse the already burning desire to see Sean Clifford replaced, but a career 12 attempts will likely not be a large enough sample size to convince James Franklin and Mike Yurcich.
  • Despite defensive coordinator Manny Diaz dialing up numerous blitzes throughout the game, the Nittany Lions managed just one sack, from defensive back Johnny Dixon. No defensive lineman has logged a sack yet this season. Against Purdue, it could be chalked up to a tough matchup, but Ohio is a significantly weaker opponent. A turnaround needs to happen, otherwise Penn State’s defense could be in trouble later this season with teams like Auburn, Michigan, and Ohio State approaching.
  • A successful two-minute drill at the end of the first half from Sean Clifford and Co. marked the third consecutive half ending with a consequential score. The two-minute offense has been efficient so far this year, scoring touchdowns to enter halftime in both games and obviously the game winner last week. Heading into a tough SEC battle next Saturday, the two-minute success is a reason to be optimistic about the Nittany Lions’ chances on the road.
  • Kicker Jake Pinegar has had well-documented struggles with range and accuracy. Against Purdue, the Nittany Lions opted to go for it on a handful of fourth downs that, in years past, may have led to a field goal attempt. When Pinegar got the call against Ohio, he missed a 42-yard attempt and an extra point. After being replaced by Jordan Stout last season, Pinegar’s job may not be secure. At one point, Sander Sahaydak could be seen warming up at the kicker’s net. Perhaps that’s a sign for the future.

What’s Next

Penn State will visit Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama on Saturday. The White Out rematch is set for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff and the game will be broadcast on CBS.

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About the Author

Sam Fremin

Sam is a senior from Ashburn, Virginia, majoring in journalism and political science & minoring in German and creative writing. He is a Dallas Cowboys fan who relishes the misery of Eagles fans. All hate messages can be sent to sam@onwardstate.com or @SamFremin on Twitter.

He may or may not read every single comment he gets.

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