No. 15 Penn State Eviscerates Indiana 45-14
No. 15 Penn State football (7-2, Big Ten 4-2) eviscerated Indiana (3-6, Big Ten 1-5), emerging from Bloomington with a 45-14 victory Saturday.
Running back Kaytron Allen led the way with three touchdowns and 158 yards of total offense. Though Sean Clifford got the start and helped build a 31-7 lead, Drew Allar stepped into the game and played a quarter and a half. Manny Diaz’s defense again had a disruptive day, picking up six sacks and forcing three interceptions.
The Hoosiers were rendered wholly ineffective, as the Nittany Lions avoided back-to-back losses for a second time this season.
How It Happened
After a week of speculation, sixth-year senior Sean Clifford got the nod at starting quarterback behind a decimated offensive line missing three starters. On the first play of the game, left guard Hunter Nourzad was injured and replaced with JB Nelson. A quick Kaytron Allen pickup of 11 yards gave Penn State a first down, but a third-down sack by an untouched defender crushed Clifford and sent the Nittany Lions into the punt formation.
When the Hoosiers received Barney Amor’s punt, they took their first possession at the 18-yard line. A sack from Nick Tarburton and a big tackle for a loss by Kobe King brought up a game-opening three-and-out for Indiana. The Nittany Lions regained possession at their own 46-yard line.
Despite another first down pickup by Allen, Penn State quickly faced a third-down scenario. On his second pass attempt of the game, Clifford hit Mitchell Tinsley for a 10-yard gain and a first down. Just three plays later, Clifford dropped back and faced immediate pressure. Sprinting out of the pocket, Clifford connected on a heave to Tinsley 25 yards downfield for the Nittany Lions’ first red zone possession. A pitch to Nick Singleton brought the freshman running back his eighth touchdown on the year and Penn State’s first points of the day. With under seven minutes in the first quarter, Penn State led 7-0.
The Hoosiers bounced back with a quick response. Marching down the field with a consistent no-huddle approach, Indiana quarterback Jack Tuttle carved up the Nittany Lion defense. With 53 passing yards (including a 35-yard bomb) and a 6-yard scramble, Tuttle captained his team into the red zone for the first time all game. Although Tarburton caused a 6-yard loss, a broken coverage on the subsequent play led to Indiana’s equalizing touchdown to a wide open AJ Barner. The game was 7-7 with just over four minutes left in the first.
On the first play of Penn State’s next drive, Clifford threw an interception off the fingertips of Brenton Strange. Clifford’s seventh interception of the year gave Indiana possession at Penn State’s 31-yard line.
Returning to the hurry up, Indiana endured a 4-yard loss, two sacks (by Adisa Isaac and Ji’Ayir Brown), and a false start during a four-play stretch. Despite beginning their drive on the 31-yard line, the Hoosiers punted from the 44-yard line. The disappointing campaign was saved by excellent special teams coverage though, as the punt was downed at Penn State’s 2-yard line.
On a quick trio of plays, Clifford threw three consecutive completions for 22 yards to close out the quarter, both teams deadlocked at 7. Out of the quarter break, Penn State’s quarterback was able to string another trio of positive plays, but two overthrows on second and third down led to another Amor punt.
Indiana followed up with a three-and-out, but the Nittany Lions responded with a three-and-out of their own. Consecutive Indiana incompletions forced by pressures from Coziah Izzard and Abdul Carter ushered the Hoosiers’ punt team back onto the field, after the game’s third straight three-and-out.
A pop pass to Allen on first down racked up 27 yards and put Penn State back in the red zone. On the next play, Allen’s name was called again – this time in the form of an 11-yard touchdown scamper. After Jake Pinegar’s extra point, Penn State led 14-7 with nine and a half minutes remaining in the half.
Another three-and-out forced Indiana’s fourth consecutive punt of the game. Parker Washington fumbled the return, but it was recovered immediately by Penn State linebacker Dominic DeLuca. On the drive’s first play, Clifford hit Theo Johnson on a 29-yard bullet. Clifford tried to hit Johnson on second down as well, but the tight end was laid out by a hit flagged for unnecessary roughness. Allen and Singleton combined for 41 yards on the ground, en route to Allen’s second touchdown of the day. The Nittany Lions led 21-7 with five minutes remaining in the half.
When Indiana took the field again, its first play went negative as Tuttle was sacked by Dvon Ellies. Afterward, Tuttle struggled to get up and left the game with an injury. True freshman Brendan Sorsby, who claimed zero previous collegiate snaps, relieved Tuttle. On the next two plays, the Hoosiers allowed two more sacks by Chop Robinson and Izzard. Three straight sacks led to another quick Indiana three-and-out, with the game threatening to get lopsided.
After a mediocre first three plays, James Franklin called timeout and left his offense out on the field for a fourth-down conversion. Singleton easily moved the chains. On the ensuing first down, Clifford found a wide open Johnson at the 5-yard line, but the tight end badly dropped the almost-guaranteed touchdown. A Singleton rush for no gain and another incompletion led to a 50-yard field goal attempt from Pinegar. Pinegar connected for a career-long score and his first successful 50-yard kick, extending the Nittany Lions lead to 24-7 with under a minute remaining in the half. Indiana ran two lackluster run plays and opted not to use its timeouts, bringing on halftime.
Due to Indiana’s coin toss deferral, the Hoosiers started the second half with the ball. The halftime break brought nothing new for Indiana, as it was forced into yet another three-and-out. After Singleton opened Penn State’s first second-half drive with a 12-yard pickup, three short plays brought Amor out for another punt.
On the second play of Indiana’s subsequent drive, a deep pass from Sorsby was intercepted by Kalen King for the cornerback’s first career pick.
Taking over at his team’s own 4-yard line, Clifford pushed Penn State downfield with an improbable 25-yard completion to Strange and a 45-yard pass to Allen. A tiptoeing touchdown from Johnson was called out of bounds, but Allen again struck with his third touchdown of the day. The Nittany Lions led 31-7 with roughly eight and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Another Indiana three-and-out brought Penn State’s offense back onto the field, albeit with a different look. For the first time in the game, freshman Drew Allar checked in at quarterback. After a holding penalty pushed the Nittany Lions back, Allar picked up a first down with a 9-yard completion to Tinsley and a 10-yard run up the middle. The offense eventually stalled, giving way to a Penn State punt. With Amor on the sideline’s bike, redshirt freshman Gabe Nwosu took his first collegiate punt.
Indiana made its second quarterback change, sending Dexter Williams III onto the field. Sparked by Williams’ 23 passing yards and the team’s 30 rushing yards, it seemed as though the Hoosiers were picking up momentum. But when a blitzing Jonathan Sutherland tipped a pass in the backfield, freshman defensive end Dani Dennis-Sutton secured his first career interception.
Consecutive rushes racked up 20 yards for Singleton, but the drive’s real star was Allar. Whipping a 16-yard pass to Liam Clifford, Penn State continued rolling towards the end zone. After the end of the third quarter, Allar unsuccessfully attempted a sneak at the 1-yard line, but rebounded with a 1-yard pass to Trey Wallace for the receiver’s first-career touchdown. Penn State led 38-7 with 14 minutes left in the game.
The Hoosiers muffed the kickoff and Williams immediately threw an interception to Daequan Hardy. Hardy returned the ball to the 4-yard line, leading to a one-play touchdown drive as Allar found Johnson for a 4-yard score. Eighteen seconds after its most recent touchdown, Penn State led 45-7.
Though Indiana ran eight plays, it only picked up 31 yards before punting. The Hoosiers’ coverage was excellent again, pinning the Nittany Lions at their own 1-yard line. Allar and his offense couldn’t overcome the bad field position, leading to Nwosu’s second punt of the game.
While Indiana’s offense continued sputtering, a late hit penalty on Amin Vanover breathed new life into the Hoosiers. With the revived drive, Williams led five more plays down the field, culminating in a 1-yard touchdown rush. Indiana cut the lead to 45-14 with just over six game minutes remaining.
A futile onside kick attempt allowed Allar to another set of snaps under center. Tank Smith totaled three yards on five carries, while Allar’s three passes turned into 35 yards, as time expired.
- Running back Kaytron Allen had a career day. Earning 20 touches in his second-career start, Allen amassed 86 yards rushing (on 18 carries), 72 yards receiving (on two catches), and three touchdowns. At the beginning of the season, five-star Nick Singleton generated the most buzz, but Allen has firmly established himself as a comparable option while the running back timeshare continues.
- Sean Clifford was named Penn State’s starting quarterback against Indiana and entered a strong performance. On 15-of-23 passing, Clifford recorded 229 passing yards and an interception. In addition to building a 31-7 lead, Clifford brought himself 16 yards shy of breaking Trace McSorley’s program record for all-time passing yards – a mark he’ll surely break the next time he takes the field.
- Relieving Clifford, freshman quarterback Drew Allar played for nearly a full quarter and a half. In his time on the field, Allar completed nine of his 12 passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns. The freshman also picked up 11 yards on the ground.
- The Nittany Lion defensive line’s trench battle was more akin to a physical altercation than a competition, as Penn State racked up six total sacks – highlighted by an Indiana three-and-out caused by consecutive sacks on first, second, and third downs. All season, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz has successfully cultivated a chaotic scene for opposing quarterbacks. The front seven’s backfield feast squeezed the life out of the Hoosiers offense, alleviating any possible weather-related pressure on Penn State’s.
- Entering the game, Penn State’s offensive line was missing three starters: left tackle Olu Fashanu, left guard Landon Tengwall, and right tackle Caedan Wallace. On the first play of the game, backup guard Hunter Nourzad suffered an injury that held him out of the early drives. Right guard Sal Wormley also left the game late with an injury. Still, the Nittany Lions’ offense thrived in the run game and only allowed a single sack, which came during the game’s first drive. Talk about overcoming adversity.
- There were a lot of Penn State firsts in Saturday’s game. Among them were:
- Freshman offensive lineman Drew Shelton’s first start
- Kicker Jake Pinegar’s first 50-yard field goal
- Cornerback Kalen King’s first interception
- Freshman defensive end Dani Dennis-Sutton’s first interception
- Specialist Gabe Nwosu’s first punt
- Wide receiver Trey Wallace’s first touchdown
The Nittany Lions will return to Beaver Stadium, when they host the Maryland Terrapins next weekend. The game’s television coverage and kickoff time have yet to be announced.
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About the Author
The Nittany Lions participated in a max-out lifting session to mark the end of winter workouts.
The Nittany Lions bested the Buckeyes on the heels of a strong second period.
Gaines was committed to the Nittany Lions for nearly a year.