Penn State opened its homestand with a victory on Saturday.
Playing in front of fans for the first time in almost two years, the Nittany Lions defeated Ball State 44-13 — improving their record to 2-0.
Penn State used two runs to score two touchdowns in the first quarter.
Noah Cain punched in a five-yard run with about 10 minutes left in the frame, followed by a Sean Clifford quarterback sneak from one yard out less than five minutes later.
Ball State struck first in the second quarter with a 24-yard field goal, but the Nittany Lions closed out the half with a 45-yard field goal from Jordan Stout and a 25-yard strike from Clifford to Jahan Dotson, making the score 24-6 at the half.
Two field goals from Stout put the Nittany Lions up 37-6 before Ball State scored its first touchdown of the day with just under seven minutes left in the game.
Ta’Quan Roberson capped off the scoring with his first career touchdown pass to Theo Johnson for his first career touchdown reception, setting the final score.
Penn State offense shows major improvements
Penn State surpassed its point total from last week’s game against Wisconsin within the first 20 minutes of Saturday’s contest.
The Nittany Lions’ offense looked comfortable at home, particularly Clifford, who threw for 230 yards and one touchdown while also rushing for 66 yards and a touchdown.
The run game was a factor from the start for Mike Yurcich’s group against Ball State, as Cain and Keyvone Lee rushed for 69 and 68 yards, respectively.
Cain and Lee, along with fellow halfback Devyn Ford, contributed in the pass game as well, turning in a combined 60 receiving yards.
Penn State got contributions from 10 different receivers, led by Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington with 65 and 57 yards, respectively.
Both teams utilize defensive depth
Penn State and Ball State both went to their benches throughout Saturday’s contest.
Nittany Lion defensive coordinator Brent Pry went to his reserves early with the game still within the Cardinals’ reach.
Linebacker Charlie Katshir and defensive tackle Coziah Izzard checked in during the second quarter, each making one tackle in the frame and finishing with a combined four tackles.
Safeties Tyler Rudolph and Jaylen Reed, along with cornerbacks Hardy and Kalen King also made contributions for the Nittany Lions.
Defensive tackle Fatorma Mulbah as well as linebackers Tyler Elsdon, Kobe King and Jamari Buddin made their first appearances donning the blue and white on Saturday.
Penn State wide receiver/cornerback combo Marquis Wilson played both positions in the affair.
The Nittany Lions rarely needed big plays from their star players in Jaquan Brisker Ji’Ayir Brown, as the bench played up to their level.
Twenty-two Cardinals made the defensive stat line, led by Bryce Cosby and Brett Anderson II with 11 and 10 tackles, respectively.
Fans welcomed back into Beaver Stadium
For the first time in almost two years, the Penn State faithful filled the Beaver Stadium bleachers.
The game-day attendance of 105,323 was the highest attendance for a season opener since the Nittany Lions opened the season against Coastal Carolina in 2008.
Beaver Stadium was back to its old self following a 2020 season in which the stands held just the players’ families.