It was a tale of two halves under the lights at Beaver Stadium.
The first half was ugly for Penn State, to say the least, but a pick-six from senior corner John Reid at the start of the third quarter sparked a quick turnaround for the Nittany Lions.
Penn State beat Buffalo 45-13 to improve to 2-0 on the season, but it didn’t seem likely after the first 30 minutes of play.
Buffalo ended the first half with a methodical 95-yard touchdown drive that put the Bulls up 10-7 as both sides headed to the locker room.
That drive wasn’t anything unique from Buffalo as it was clear from the start that their objective was to run the ball, run the clock and keep the ball away from the opposing offense.
The Nittany Lions’ first half touchdown came after Cam Brown knocked the ball loose and the defense jumped on the ball giving the offense great field position.
Sean Clifford connected with sophomore Jahan Dotson for the receiver’s first career touchdown that put the home team up 7-0.
From that point on in the half it was all Buffalo — a 19 play, 69 yard drive resulted in a field goal, and then the drive to end the half put the Bulls on top.
Penn State just couldn’t come up with stops when needed, and struggled on third down. Buffalo 10 first downs in the half compared to just four for the Nittany Lions.
The Bulls, a run-heavy offense, turned to the air for two big passing plays in which their outside receivers got a step on the Penn State corners on the sideline.
The Buffalo touchdown was also a pass play from inside the 10-yard line.
The Nittany Lions looked like their offense had figured things out to start the third quarter until Ricky Slade coughed up a fumble and gave Buffalo the ball back.
But John Reid came to the rescue and jumped a curl route and took it to the house to put Penn State back in front 14-10 — the turning point of the game.
The defense stepped up yet again the following possession, forcing a three-and-out, and a personal foul on the punt return gave the Nittany Lions fantastic field position.
And all of a sudden the game that had long been dominated by defense and the run game turned into a high scoring affair.
Clifford connected with his tight end Pat Freiermuth on a 23-yard touchdown pass to go up 21-10.
The Bulls responded with another long, drawn out drive that resulted in a field goal, and once again it was a one possession game.
Clifford showed his ability to turn on the jets and ran the ball 58 yards before he was tackled just shy of the goal line and Noah Cain punched in the score.
Penn State didn’t look back.
Freiermuth found the endzone again late in the third with an impressive run after a one-handed catch at the line of scrimmage.
There wasn’t much scoring after the avalanche that was the third quarter. An early field goal in the final quarter put the Nittany Lions up 38-13, and then found the endzone one last time on a deep touchdown pass to Dotson.