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Recap: Penn State 79, Idaho 7

Nittany Lions hammer visiting Vandals in impressive opening week display.

Photo by Heather Weikel
Heather Weikel

That was about everything you could ask for if you’re a Penn State fan.

The Nittany Lions dominated all three facets of the game early and often en route to a 79-7 week one victory over Idaho in front of a vociferous Beaver Stadium crowd.

In his first-career start, redshirt sophomore quarterback Sean Clifford was a bit slow to settle in, but the defense had his back.

The Nittany Lions defense began the game with seven consecutive three and outs and racked up six first-half sacks, including 2.5 for Bednarik Award candidate Yetur Gross-Matos.

On offense, Penn State sputtered a bit early on and kicked a pair of field goals to go up 6-0 midway through the opening quarter. From there on though, it was smooth sailing.

First it was Journey Brown finding the end zone from 23 yards out. Then Ricky Slade plunged in from a yard to make it 20-0 at one quarter. The passing game got going in the second when Clifford hit KJ Hamler for a 36-yard touchdown. True freshman Devyn Ford made an immediate impact, taking a handoff over left guard and scampering 81 yards to extend the lead to 34-0 with under five minutes left in the half. Hamler and Clifford again connected, this time from 21 yards out to make the s score 41-0 with 1:39 remaining and the Nittany Lions capped the half with a Jake Pinegar 38-yard field goal after a well-executed two-minute drill.

Clifford played the first drive of the second half and quickly drove the Nittany Lions down the field for a touchdown, capped by a Noah Cain touchdown run. The touchdown was the first of the true freshman’s career and meant all four scholarship Nittany Lions running backs found the end zone on the day.

The new Nittany Lions signal caller finished 14 of 23 for 280 yards and two touchdowns. He added 57 yards on seven carries to wrap up an impressive debut. Ford led all running backs with six carries for 107 yards and a touchdown, while Hamler topped the receivers with four catches for 115 yards and two scores.

News and Notes

  • Will Levis recorded his first-career touchdown pass to true freshman Brenton Strange, who also notched his first career score.
  • Damion Barber did not play for Penn State.
  • Cam Brown made his season debut after a first-half suspension for targeting. He played just one series.
  • John Reid recorded an interception.
  • Penn State notched six sacks in the ballgame.
  • Zack Kuntz scored the first touchdown of his career on his second-career reception.
  • Penn State hit the 70-point mark for the first time since a 70-24 win against Akron in 1999.
  • Walk-on Nick Eury scored his first career touchdown, thus giving all five running backs on the roster a touchdown.