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Penn State Football Rolls Through Pitt, 51-6

by on September 08, 2018 11:51 PM

The Nittany Lions came off of their shaky week-one performance against App State hoping to make a statement in Pittsburgh, and they did just that. Penn State (2-0) dismantled the Pitt Panthers (1-1) at Heinz Field 51-6 on a rainy Saturday night.

After a slow start, Penn State’s offense and defense really got going in the second half behind a flurry of impressive drives led by Trace McSorley. On defense, the line made its presence known with an inordinate number of sacks. All in all, the Nittany Lions got back to their dominant ways.

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions started the night off with an impressive defensive drive. Pitt was forced to punt after a third-down pass from Pickett slipped through Penn State Corner Amani Oruwariye’s hands.

The offense clicked immediately, as McSorley found tight end Jonathan Holland down field for 22 yards. Two plays later, KJ Hamler took an end-around 32 yards into the end zone. 

The Panthers responded well, driving 75 yards on 10 plays to score a touchdown. The Penn State defense couldn’t come through on a couple of third down situations, but a dropped PAT attempt kept the Nittany Lions ahead at 7-6. Penn State would carry its 7-6 lead into the second quarter.

Play slowed down in the second quarter, as some sloppy play on both sides prevented any scoring for most of the period. With about a minute to play in the half, McSorley led the Nittany Lions three plays for 35 yards in 33 seconds, capping it off with a touchdown to a wide open KJ Hamler. 

McSorley entered the half 7-11 for 82 yards and a touchdown, while Miles Sanders contributed heavily on the ground with eight rushes for 74 yards. Pitt, meanwhile, racked up more than 200 yards on the ground but only had six points to show for it.

Penn State opened the second half strong. After forcing a three-and-out, the Nittany Lions marched down the field. Despite big drops on great passes from McSorley, the offense was able to go 40 yards in eight plays after McSorley ran one in for his first rushing touchdown of the night.

Kevin Givens was responsible for Penn State’s next score. The defensive tackle pressured Kenny Pickett deep into his own end zone and was held by a lineman, drawing a flag that led to an automatic safety call. At this point, James Franklin’s squad was up 23-6.

Before the third quarter could end, DeAndre Thompkins returned a punt 39 yards for a touchdown to give Penn State a 30-6 lead.

Trace McSorley kicked off the scoring in the fourth quarter, breaking out with 20- and 19-yard runs before floating a beauty to Mac Hippenhammer for an 11-yard touchdown. The Nittany Lions took a 37-6 lead with 11:40 remaining in the game.

It started to get ugly in the fourth quarter after Mark Allen punched in a four-yard touchdown to give the Nittany Lions a 44-6 lead. Sean Clifford would even throw a 34-yard beauty to Brandon Polk -- Clifford's first pass as a Nittany Lion -- to make it 51-6 with 4:21 remaining in the game.

The Nittany Lions would ride out that lead and walk away from Pittsburgh victorious.

What’s Next

Penn State will play host to Kent State at noon on Saturday. You can catch the game on FS1.

Derek Bannister is a writer for Onward State.
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