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Penn State Overcomes Sluggish Start to Beat Buffalo

by on September 07, 2019 11:00 PM

No. 15 Penn State football (2-0) took down the Buffalo Bulls (1-1), 45-13, on Saturday night at Beaver Stadium.

After a brutally slow start to the game saw the Nittany Lions put up just 82 yards of offense in the first half, James Franklin’s squad came out firing on all cylinders to open the third quarter and never looked back.

After trailing 10-7 heading into the locker room, Penn State outscored the Bulls 38-3 in the second half in a dominating performance.

How It Happened

Buffalo received the opening kickoff and was shut down by the Nittany Lion defense after two first downs. Penn State went three-and-out on its first offensive drive, but Cam Brown quickly picked them up by forcing and recovering a fumble to give Sean Clifford and Co. the ball on Buffalo’s own 38-yard line.

The Nittany Lions managed to score a touchdown in just two plays. After a nine-yard Journey Brown rush, Clifford found Jahan Dotson wide open for a 28-yard touchdown reception and Penn State took a 7-0 lead with 8:50 remaining in the first quarter.

Buffalo’s offense got hot entering the second quarter. The Bulls drove all the way down to Penn State’s own 15-yard line and converted on the 32-yard field goal. The Nittany Lions held a 7-3 lead with 9:42 remaining in the first half.

The Bulls had another massive drive to close out the second quarter, scoring their first touchdown of the game on a Julian Bourassa six-yard reception with just 11 seconds remaining in the first half. The Nittany Lions trailed Buffalo 10-7 heading into the locker rooms.

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Momentum stuck with Buffalo to initially open the third quarter thanks to a Ricky Slade fumble. But a John Reid interception returned for a touchdown gave the Nittany Lions a 14-10 lead and a massive boost for Beaver Stadium with 12:58 remaining in the quarter.

A 22-yard punt return by KJ Hamler along with a personal foul called on the Bulls gave Penn State the ball on Buffalo’s own 23-yard line. Clifford found Pat Freiermuth wide open on the ensuing play for an easy pitch and catch for a touchdown. The Nittany Lions held a 21-10 lead with 11:54 remaining in the third quarter.

The Bulls quickly bounced back when Alex McNulty hit a 25-yard field goal to finish off Buffalo’s next drive and make it a 21-13 game with 6:59 remaining in the third.

Clifford electrified Beaver Stadium on Penn State’s next drive with a 58-yard rush that brought the Nittany Lions all the way down to Buffalo’s two-yard line. Noah Cain punched the ball in on the next play for a touchdown and Penn State’s flurry of touchdowns continued, taking a 28-13 lead.

Freiermuth decided he wasn’t done yet on Penn State’s next drive. The sophomore made a one-handed catch on a screen pass and took it 28 yards to the house, giving Penn State a 35-13 lead with 2:56 remaining in the third quarter.

Jake Pinegar hit a 32-yard field goal to open the fourth quarter that gave the Nittany Lions a 38-13 lead. Dotson scored his second touchdown of the night on a 56-yard touchdown reception in the final minutes of the game to give Penn State a 45-13 win.

Takeaways

  • After a first half in which Penn State’s offense managed just 82 total yards of offense and four first downs compared to the Bulls’ 270 yards, the Nittany Lions came out red hot to open the third quarter. Reid’s pick-six and Freiermuth’s touchdown reception gave Penn State two scores within just 64 seconds. Four third quarter touchdowns gave James Franklin’s squad plenty of momentum that all but ended this one.
  • John Reid’s pick-six was without a doubt the play of the game. Not only did it give the Nittany Lions a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish for the rest of the night, but it also gave Beaver Stadium a reason to erupt for the first time since early in the first quarter.
  • Pat Freiermuth was one of the most consistent options for Penn State’s offense throughout the night. The sophomore scored two of the Nittany Lions’ four third quarter touchdowns and made several highlight reel catches during their offensive burst.

What’s Next

Penn State will host Pitt next Saturday at noon at Beaver Stadium. The game will air on ABC.

 



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