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Penn State Dismantles Idaho in Season Opener

by on August 31, 2019 7:08 PM

No. 15 Penn State football (1-0) made easy work of the Idaho Vandals (0-1) with 79-7 drubbing in the season opener Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium.

The Nittany Lion offense found the end zone with ease throughout the day while Idaho could do nothing to keep pace thanks to a dominant defensive effort by Penn State. The Vandals finished with five first down conversions on the day with 145 total yards while the Nittany Lions had 673 total yards of offense. Penn State scored its most points in a game since 1991, when the Nittany Lions put up 81 against Cincinnati.

How It Happened

Penn State’s defense quickly got a chance to flex its muscle when Idaho elected to receive the opening kick. The Nittany Lions shut down the Vandals on their first possession, stuffing them on their attempt to go for it on fourth down and handing the ball to the offense on Idaho’s 34-yard line.

Sean Clifford led Penn State inside the 10-yard line but couldn’t punch the ball in for a touchdown. Jake Pinegar hit a 27-yard kick to give the Nittany Lions a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter. A 53-yard field goal by Jordan Stout on the next drive gave Penn State a 6-0 lead with 8:35 remaining in the first quarter. As kickoff specialist, Stout, a Virginia Tech transfer, has 13 touchbacks on the day.

Journey Brown scored Penn State’s first touchdown of the 2019 season on a 23-yard carry. Pinegar’s extra point gave the Nittany Lions a 13-0 lead with about five minutes to play in the first quarter.

Penn State quickly got the ball back thanks to its stout defensive play and Idaho’s punting struggles. A 26-yard pass completion by Clifford to Ricky Slade set the Nittany Lions up inside the 10-yard line. Slade crashed his way into the end zone just a few plays later on a one-yard carry and Penn State took a 20-0 lead with 1:50 remaining in the first quarter.

Despite Idaho’s change at quarterback, the Vandals continued to struggle to get anything going in the second quarter as Penn State’s defense racked up six sacks in the first half. A 33-yard touchdown pass from Clifford to KJ Hamler, meanwhile, gave the Nittany Lions a 27-0 lead with 10:28 remaining in the half.

The Nittany Lion offense continued to pour it on to close out the first half. An 81-yard touchdown rush from freshman Devyn Ford, a 21-yard Hamler touchdown reception, and a 37-yard kick by Pinegar gave the Nittany Lions a 44-0 lead heading into the locker room.

Nothing changed in the second half. Journey Brown scored his second touchdown of the game on a two-yard rush on Penn State’s first drive. A John Reid interception gave Penn State the ball back, allowing Will Levis to come in at quarterback and hand the ball of to Noah Cain for a 3-yard rushing touchdown with 11:28 remaining in the third quarter, giving Penn State a 58-0 lead.

Will Levis connected with freshman tight end Brenton Strange for a four-yard touchdown reception to stretch Penn State’s lead to 65-0 in the fourth quarter, while Cain added another on the next drive, and Nick Eury bulled his way in from eight yards out for yet another. The final flurry of touchdowns gave Penn State a 79-7 lead to finish the game.


  • Penn State’s defense was nothing short of dominant all day. The unit didn’t allow Idaho to pick up a first down until well into the second quarter, finished with seven total sacks, and allowed the Vandals to gain just 145 total yards of offense.
  • When James Franklin said the Nittany Lions were going to have a running back by committee approach, he clearly wasn’t kidding. Brown and Cain rushed for two touchdowns while Slade and Ford each had one of their own. They totaled for 198 rushing yards.
  • If Yetur Gross-Matos’ play today was any indication of how his season will go, opposing offenses should be scared. The junior finished with 2.5 sacks and 3 tackles on the day. He was a constant in the Vandals’ backfield throughout the game and seriously disrupted their ability to run their offense.
  • The Sean Clifford era has gotten off to a great start in Happy Valley, to say the least. The redshirt sophomore finished with 14 completions for 280 yards and two passing touchdowns, along with 57 yards on the ground.

What’s Next

Penn State will play host to Buffalo next week at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Beaver Stadium. The game will be aired on Fox.

Will Pegler is a Penn State student and a writer for Onward State.
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