Penn State Beats Idaho Like a Sack of Potatoes
Last year, Penn State fans had to sweat out the first victory of the season, an overtime victory over underdog Appalachian State. This year, the Nittany Lions gave their fans nothing to sweat over, coasting to a 79-7 victory over the Idaho Vandals. The victory pushes Penn State to 1-0, while Idaho falls to 0-1.
A complete team effort, Penn State dominated in all aspects of the game from start to finish. The Nittany Lions won the battle in just about every key stat including:
- Total Yards, 673 to 145
- Passing Yards, 342 to 141
- Rushing Yards, 331 to 4
- First Downs, 35 to 5
- Sacks, 7 to 0
Easing the Nerves
The Penn State offense looked nervous early as they settled for two field goals early in the first quarter. Virginia Tech transfer Jordan Stout made the second of those two field goals. His boot from 53 yards made the score 6-0. Stout also raised eye brows throughout the game for his prowess in forcing touchbacks from the Vandal special teams unit.
Penn State scored their first touchdown of the season when Journey Brown found the end zone on a 23-yard run. From there, the offense took off. Running back Ricky Slade then reached the end zone for his first touchdown of the season to make it 20-0 at the end of the first quarter.
Big Plays Galore
The second quarter became the Sean Clifford to KJ Hamler show. Clifford found Hamler wide open in the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown pass to push the lead to 27-0. Then, freshman running back Devyn Ford had the biggest play of the day when he found running room on the left side of the field, picked up a key block from receiver Justin Shorter, and scored his first career touchdown, an 81-yard scamper to pay dirt. Going back to his buddy, Clifford hit Hamler again in the corner of the end zone to extend the lead to 41-0.
As good as the offense was, the Penn State defense was the story of the first half. They did not allow Idaho to pick up a first down in the entire first half. They picked up six sacks in the half, led by Yetur Gross-Matos and his 2.5 sacks. Behind the dominant defensive performance and the steady offensive attack, Penn State carried a 44-0 lead into the locker room.
The dominance continued into the second half. Clifford led another touchdown drive, his final drive of the game, which was finished off by Journey Brown on a two-yard touchdown run. The Penn State defense continued to dominate, as well. On Idaho’s first play of the second half, John Reid intercepted the pass and took it deep into Idaho territory, setting up a Noah Cain touchdown run, the first of his career, to make it 58-0.
With the backups in for the fourth quarter, Penn State continued to fire on all cylinders. Backup QB Will Levis connected with freshman tight end Brenton Strange, giving each of them their first career touchdowns. Noah Cain found the end zone for the second time of the day when he notched a nine-yard touchdown run. Then, Nick Eury had a powerful eight-yard run to give Penn State 79 points on the day. His run brought out this reaction from Saquon Barkley:
The Penn State defense played well enough to pitch the shut out. However, a muffed punt by Mac Hippenhammer recovered by Idaho set the Vandals up with great field position. Idaho turned the opportunity into points when Mason Petrino found Logan Kendall in the end zone to put the Vandals on the board. Despite the touchdown, the Penn State defense certainly lived up to the hype on Saturday.
Yes, Idaho is an FCS opponent and not a highly touted one. But, Penn State could not have played any better than they did on Saturday. From start to finish and in all parts of the game, they absolutely dominated. For a season opener, Coach Franklin has to be very pleased with his football team after Saturday.