Penn State 44, Ball State 13: Lions Cruise Past Cardinals in Home Opener

By Joel Neuschwander on September 11, 2021 at 7:13 pm
Sep 11, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions wide receiver Jahan Dotson (5) avoids a tackle during the second quarter against the Ball State Cardinals at Beaver Stadium.
Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
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There was no hangover for Penn State in week two. The Nittany Lions dispatched Ball State with ease in front of more than 105,000 at Beaver Stadium to improve to 2-0. The game marked the first in Beaver Stadium with fans since November of 2019 vs. Rutgers

We'll have much more on this game in the next few days, but for now, here are the three biggest takeaways from Penn State's 44-13 victory.


LIONS DEFENSE DOMINANT AGAIN

They had more help from the offense this week, but Brent Pry’s unit still turned in a top-tier performance. The group basically shut down any semblance of a Ball State rushing attack and neutralized a potent pass game.

Last week’s standout Arnold Ebiketie had a bit of a quieter afternoon, and Ellis Brooks didn’t even see the field in the first half due to his targeting penalty against Wisconsin. Nonetheless, Penn State saw contributions from a variety of players, Daequan Hardy grabbed his first career interception and Jesse Luketa snared a Drew Plitt pass and took it to the house. The secondary as a whole really shined in this one.

Clifford efficient, avoids major mistakes

For the second straight week, Sean Clifford finished with a clean slate in a critical department: turnovers. He missed the mark on a few throws, but overall, looked poised and protected the football.

Clifford also reminded Penn State fans of his ability to run the ball, punching in the Nittany Lions' second score of the first quarter. He finished as Penn State's third leading rusher, gaining 66 yards on 11 attempts, with a long run of 43.

Penn State offense: explosive, versatile and weapons galore

While it took an entire half for the Nittany Lions to get going on offense against Wisconsin, we saw just what kind of damage Penn State could do on that side of the ball right from the jump against Ball State.

As he did in his previous stops, Mike Yurcich has plenty of talent to work with -- talent that was on full display throughout the afternoon. Penn State racked up over 200 yards on the ground, with Noah Cain and Keyvone Lee pounding their way through would-be tacklers. The receiving game was a similar story despite the lack of production from the Nittany Lions' tight ends (a late touchdown from Theo Johnson being the exception). It will be intriguing to see how this offense continues to progress after a momentum-building game, and a big game coming up in one week's time vs. Auburn.

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