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Penn State Shuts Down Purdue with Strong Defensive Performance

by on October 05, 2019 3:27 PM

No. 12 Penn State football (5-0) took down Purdue (1-4), 35-7, Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium.

After firing on all cylinders in the early going, Penn State’s offense couldn’t do much of anything in the second half. What looked like it was going to be a track meet quickly turned in to a classic Big Ten defensive battle.

Brent Pry’s unit didn’t allow the Boilermakers to have much of any success on offense — holding them to just 104 total yards and finishing with 10 sacks — and led the Nittany Lions to a Homecoming weekend victory.

How It Happened

Penn State’s defense got off to a quick start and forced a three-and-out for Purdue — thanks in large part to a Shaka Toney sack. The Nittany Lion offense wasted no time and took advantage of the stop. Sean Clifford led a 56-yard, 2:32 long drive that was capped off by a 23-yard touchdown reception by KJ Hamler, and Penn State took a 7-0 lead with 10:22 remaining in the first quarter.

 

The Boilermakers again failed to pick up a first down on their next possession and were forced to punt to Hamler. The human joystick returned the punt for 22 yards and Penn State started its drive deep in Purdue territory.

It took the Nittany Lions five plays to score again. Clifford faked a jump pass and scampered in for a 3-yard touchdown rush as Penn State took a 14-0 lead with 7:04 remaining in the first.

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Penn State forced yet another Purdue punt and, well, scored again. Jahan Dotson caught a pass wide open in the middle of the field juked out a defender and took it 72 yards to the house. The Nittany Lions held a 21-0 lead just 10 minutes into the game.

 

Purdue finally picked up a first down on its next possession, but couldn’t get a drive going. The Nittany Lions proceeded to score their fourth touchdown in just as many possessions on 7-yard Pat Freiermuth reception. They held a 28-0 lead with 14:17 remaining in the first half.

The Boilermakers slowed down Penn State for the first time of the game when Simeon Smiley intercepted Clifford about halfway through the second quarter. Jack Plummer capitalized by orchestrating a five-play, 65-yard drive that resulted in an Amad Anderson touchdown. Purdue trailed 28-7 with 7:18 remaining in the second.

The Nittany Lions drove down to the red zone on their next possession but couldn’t punch it in for a touchdown. Jake Pinegar attempted a 35-yard field goal but it missed wide right.

Penn State stopped the Boilermakers on their next possession, but a punt hit off Jonathan Sutherland and gave the ball right back to Purdue. Sacks from Toney, and Yetur Gross-Matos, and Jayson Oweh stopped Purdue from scoring, though, and the Nittany Lions took a 28-7 lead into the locker room.

Neither team did much on offense in the third quarter. The Nittany Lions finished with 42 yards of offense in the period and just three first downs, while Purdue mustered just 18 yards of positive yardage.

Penn State’s defense continued to dominate Purdue in the fourth quarter. Micah Parsons and Lamont Wade both had sacks on the same Boilermaker possession to get the ball back to the offense with a about eight minutes remaining in the game.

Noah Cain led the Nittany Lions on their next drive. The freshman running back rushed five times for a total of 64 yards on the possession and capped it off with a 2-yard touchdown. Penn State took a 35-7 lead with 5:44 remaining in the game.

Cain finished the day with 105 yards on 12 carries.

Will Levis checked in to the game in the final few minutes but fumbled on a snap. Purdue recovered but gave the ball right back to the Nittany Lions on a fumble of their own, and Penn State ran the clock out to win 35-7.

Takeaways

  • After an explosive start to Saturday’s game, Penn State’s offense totally slowed down. The Nittany Lions scored touchdowns on all four of their first possessions, but failed to put points on the board again until late in the fourth quarter.
  • All of the Wild Dogs were eating today. Six different defensive lineman had sacks on the day to combine for eight on the Nittany Lions 10 sacks on the day, including three for Shaka Toney and two for Yetur Gross-Matos. Penn State finished one shy of tying the school record of 11 sacks in a game, set in 1999. The unit also held the Boilermakers to a whopping -19 rushing yards on the day.
  • Penn State’s Generations of Greatness uniforms looked fantastic, but what happened to the diamond checkered end zone? The Nittany Lions used it in their last throwback game against Indiana in 2017 and it was an great touch. If this becomes a yearly occurrence, James Franklin and the rest of the football staff should definitely bring back that end zone style for next season’s game.

What’s Next?

Penn State will travel to Iowa City to take on No. 14 Iowa at Kinnick Stadium Saturday night. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m.



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