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Nittany Lions Drop Season Opener to Indiana

Written by: on Sunday, October 25th, 2020. Follow William Albright on Twitter.



EasternPAFootball Senior Writer

BLOOMINGTON, IN — Although the season opener between Penn State and Indiana wasn’t exactly a classic, it certainly had its moments. 

The Lions made a lot of mistakes in the first half that resulted in a 17-7 Indiana lead at halftime. 

After settling down from a first half that saw him toss a pair of interceptions, Nittany Lion quarterback Sean Clifford led the Lions back to a 21-11 edge in the second half for a 28-28 deadlock to set the stage for some “bonus” football between the two Big 10 programs. 

Here is how the “bonus” football unfolded that led to a frustrating 36-35 loss for the ‘Nits. 

“As always we thank you for your efforts of covering Penn State football and especially for those who traveled to get here,” began PSU head coach James Franklin. “You have to give Indiana a lot of credit. They played well and we didn’t. That is not a good combination, especially early on.” 

Penn State had the choice heading into the overtime period and the Lions decided to take the ball and put the Hoosiers on defense. On the possession, Clifford completed a pass for nine yards to freshman Parker Washington and the touchdown. Jake Pinegar, who had misfired on a pair of field goal attempts earlier in the game, was good from placement and that made the score PSU 35, Indiana 28. 

Facing the 7-point deficit, it was time for the Hoosiers to try and pull the game out of the fire. 

The Hoosiers got the opportunity to win the game when quarterback Michael Penix hit Whop Philyor for a 9-yard scoring pass. Choosing to go for the two-point conversion and the win, the Hoosiers were successful on what was to be the final play of the game when Penix rolled to his left and headed for the pylon. 

Diving for the corner, Penix literally scored the game-winner by mere inches after the call was upheld on an official review. 

Mistakes and missed opportunities were a big part of the outcome for the Lions. 

“We have not been a team to get a lot of penalties and we have not been a team to have a lot of turnovers and tonight we had both,” said Franklin. “We had ten penalties for a hundred yards which is very uncharacteristic for us and we had a lot of turnovers and a number of those were in the red zone. A lot of different situations came up in this game. We finally got into a rhythm in the second half, but you can’t play like we did in the first half on the road against a Big 10 opponent and expect to win.”

Scoring Summary

First Quarter 

PS — Pat Freiermuth 2 pass from Sean Clifford. (Jake Pinegar kick). 7-0 

Second Quarter 

IND – C. Campbell 34 FG. 7-3. 

IND – Stevie Scott 14 run. (Campbell kick). 7-10 

IND – Scott 2 run (Campbell kick), 7 – 17 

Third Quarter 

Clifford 35 run ( Pinegar kick) 14-17 

Fourth Quarter 

IND – Campbell 48 FG. 14-20 

PSU – Jahan Dotson, 60 pass from Clifford. ( Pinegar kick) 21 – 20 

PSU – Devyn Ford run. ( Pinegar kick). 28-20 

IND – Michael Penix 1 run. ( Penix rush) 28-28 


PSU – Parker Washington, 9 pass from Clifford. ( Pinegar kick) 35-28 

IND – Whop Philyor 9 yd pass from Penix. ( Penix rush), 35 – 36

Team Statistics PSU IND



Rushing Attempts 52 26 


C-A-I 24-35-2 19-36-1 


Total offense plays 87 62 




Individual Statistical Leaders


Penn State: Sean Clifford, 17-119, 1 TD; Devyn Ford 20-70, 1 TD. Indiana: Stevie Scott 20-57, 2 TDs. 


Penn State: Clifford 24-35-2, 3 TDs. Indiana: Michael Penix 19-36-1, 1 TD. 


Penn State: Jahan Dotson 4-94, 1 TD; Pat Freiermuth 7-60, 1 TD. Indiana: Whop Phylor 5-36, 1TD; Miles Marshall 4-46.

Game Notes:

Five players made their Nittany Lion debut: Ji’AyirBrown, RB Caziah Holmes, WR KeAndre Lambert-Smith, RB Keyvone Lee, WR Parker Washington 

•Four true freshmen made their Penn State debut:RB Caziah Holmes, WR KeAndre Lambert-Smith, RB Keyvone Lee, WRParker Washington. 

•Five players made their first career start: S Jaquan Brisker, LB Ellis Brooks, LB Brandon Smith, TE Brenton Strange, WR Parker Washington. 

•Penn State converted 27 first downs, tying the ninth-most by the team in the James Franklin era 

•The Nittany Lions tallied 52 rushing attempts, equaling the fourth-most by the program under James Franklin. Penn State last had 52 rushing attempts against Iowa in 2016. 

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