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Nittany Lions Mash Idaho 79-7

Written by: on Sunday, September 1st, 2019. Follow William Albright on Twitter.



EasternPAFootball Senior Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK — One might think that the University of Idaho football team’s mascot might reflect something to do with potatoes. However, that isn’t the case. They actually respond to the handle Vandals.

Paying no attention to the handle attached to the Vandals, Penn State got physical with their guests as they made mashed potatoes out of them to the tune of 79-7 Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium before an opening day crowd announced as 104,527.

“Appreciate everyone coming out to cover Penn State football,” began PSU head coach James Franklin in his post-game conference. “I want to obviously start by thanking the crowd. I thought that we had a great crowd for the opening game. I am really appreciative, and I think that we had around 104,000 which is special. We don’t take that for granted because there aren’t too many places in the country that can do that.”

Obviously happy with the win, Franklin quickly turned his attention to the fact that his Lions still need a lot of work.

“There is obviously going to be a bunch of stuff on tape that we need to get cleaned up,” Franklin said. “A couple things — we won the field position battle which is great. Forty-two yards compared to the 30 and probably would have been even better without the special teams turnover. Turnover battle was a push. Penalty battle, we won that one. We had 3-for-30 and in an opening game I think that is really good, I think they had 10 (penalties).”

The Lions played physical football throughout and it didn’t take long for that to make its appearance on the scene. Physicality made its appearance on the first play of the game when Idaho receiver Nick Romano appeared to have a completion from quarterback Mason Petrino only to become “mashed” for an incompletion on a “mashing” hit by PSU safety Garrett Taylor. With that collision, the war was on.

“I thought the defense really kept them on their heels all night,” said Franklin. “Their offense played within our system. Obviously, [Tariq] Castro-Fields, we talk about championship habits, ball was on the ground and he scoops and scores; just little things that I notice that I am very pleased with. A lot of guys got a lot of really good experience. So overall, really good game for us. Going to have a bunch of stuff that we will need to look at on film and get better, but it was a really good start.”

Although the PSU offense sputtered a little at the outset, the Lions still managed a 6-0 lead on a pair of field goals, one by Jake Pinegar and a second long distance one (53 yards) by Jordan Stout.

The first Lion touchdown of the season came shortly after when Journey Brown shredded the Idaho defense for a 23-yard sprint to the end zone. Ricky Slade bulled in from one yard out to make it 20-0 before quarterback Sean Clifford tossed his first TD of the season, a 36-yard scoring aerial to K.J. Hamler. Hamler led a group of 13 Lion receivers with 115 yards on four catches and a pair of scores.

Completing the first half scoring for the Lions was an 81-yard sprint to paydirt by Devyn Ford, Hamler’s second TD reception of the day covering 21 yards and Pinegar’s 38-yard effort with 42 seconds left in the first half. With those three scores, the rout was on.

For Clifford in his first start, he completed 11 of 20 attempts for 213 yards, the pair of touchdowns and no interceptions.

“I thought that the first two drives he missed some throws,” said Franklin. “It wasn’t because of lack of arm strength, but he missed some throws and was somewhat inaccurate. His feet were probably a little antsy. But I thought that after those first two drives, and he even admitted that to me, that he really settled down and got comfortable. I thought that he managed the game really well. His stats I wouldn’t say were overly gaudy, but he played really well, protected the football and was really good with the decision-making process, was able to run the ball a little bit and I think as the game went on he was accurate. I think one of the things that stood out to me, again I haven’t studied all of the stats or the film yet, but we have to get better at third down. We weren’t as good on third down as we need to be. Obviously, that will be an 

emphasis as we continue moving forward.”

On the other side of the ball, the PSU defense was simply suffocating. So stingy that the Vandals weren’t able to record their initial first down until just under eight minutes of the second quarter.

Other than the win, maybe the next most important thing that came out of the rout was that Franklin and his staff got a good look at the whole team.

” Yeah, it was really valuable,” he said. “There is always the discussion on the headset of when do you get guys out. I think we played shutout football on defense although the scoreboard doesn’t really show that. I thought we were able to get guys like Lance Dixon and Brandon Smith a bunch of reps, Adisa Isaac with a bunch of reps, the young backs, I could go on and on. Salem Wormley and even some guys that we weren’t planning on getting in there. That is going to pay dividends, not only this year, but over the next couple of years so that is really positive. I’m not exactly sure how many guys played in the game, but it was a bunch of them.”

One of the guys in that bunch was former Central Mountain standout Justin Neff who was credited with one solo tackle and one assist from his safety position.

Wth the win, now 1-0, the Lions will prepare for the University of Buffalo Bulls who will make the trip to Happy Valley for an evening encounter with the Lions Saturday. Kickoff for the Bulls-Lions matchup is set for 7:30 p.m.

Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Total

Idaho 0 0 0 7 7

Penn State 20 24 14 21 79

Qtr Time Scoring play


11:30 PSU – Pinegar, Jake 28 yd field goal, 6-23 2:00

08:35 PSU – Stout, Jordan 53 yd field goal, 4-0 0:51

05:03 PSU – Brown, Journey 23 yd run (Pinegar, Jake kick), 5-54 2:00

01:50 PSU – Slade, Ricky 1 yd run (Pinegar, Jake kick), 5-35 1:43 


PSU – Hamler, KJ 36 yd pass from Clifford, Sean (Pinegar, Jake kick), 3-55 1:01

04:27 PSU – Ford, Devyn 81 yd run (Pinegar, Jake kick), 3-95 1:11

01:39 PSU – Hamler, KJ 21 yd pass from Clifford, Sean (Pinegar, Jake kick), 4-76 1:19

00:00 PSU – Pinegar, Jake 38 yd field goal, 4-40 0:42


13:11 PSU – Brown, Journey 2 yd run (Pinegar, Jake kick), 5-75 1:43

11:28 PSU – Cain, Noah 3 yd run (Pinegar, Jake kick), 4-6 1:30


14:51 PSU – Strange, Brenton 4 yd pass from Levis, Will (Pinegar, Jake kick), 14-72 5:51

12:35 IDAHO – KENDALL, Logan 1 yd pass from PETRINO, Mason (COFFEY, Cade kick), 2-25 0:41

07:48 PSU – Cain, Noah 9 yd run (Pinegar, Jake kick), 10-75 4:47

02:17 PSU – Eury, Nick 8 yd run (Pinegar, Jake kick), 7-54 3:45



RUSHES-YARDS (NET) 28-4 45-331


Passes Att-Comp-Int 26-16-1 37-25-0


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