Saturday turned out to be exactly the kind of day that we predicted all week long.
The Lions were sloppy at times, as was the weather. But ultimately, Penn State thoroughly overpowered an overmatched UMass team 63-0 shutout on Homecoming at Beaver Stadium.
Senior defensive back Daequan Hardy jolted the Lions awake with a nifty punt return late in the first quarter. From there, Penn State scored on three straight possessions to go up 28-0 heading into the half.
The Lions extended that lead in the final two quarters with the most notable of those scores being another Hardy punt return for score. Hardy became the first Penn State player ever to record two punt return touchdowns in the same game and was the first Big Ten player to do that since 2013. Hardy also had a tackle, a pair of pass deflections, and continued his outstanding play since returning from an early season suspension.
He fit right in with a defense that was somehow more dominant than even could have been imagined against UMass. Chop Robinson, Adisa Isaac, Dani Dennis-Sutton, and Amin Vanover lived in the Minutemen backfield, not allowing even a second for quarterback Taisun Phommachanh to find any comfort.
In the end, the Nittany Lions had 7 sacks, 14 tackles for loss, and allowed just 109 yards the entire day.
Much was made all week about Penn State’s lack of explosiveness in the offense. While the Lions still didn’t get explosive plays from either Nicholas Singleton or Kaytron Allen, the offense was efficient. Meanwhile, quarterback Drew Allar continued his outstanding play in Beaver Stadium, completing 16-of-23 passes for 162 yards and three scores - all to tight ends. Trey Wallace had three first half catches for 44 yards in his return to the Penn State lineup.
As you’d expect, there will be plenty of good and bad for James Franklin and staff to review ahead of next week’s showdown at Ohio Stadium against the Buckeyes.