You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Penn State’s 2nd-teamers finish off Villanova, Lions improve to 4-0: final score, analysis and more

PennLive.com logo PennLive.com 9/25/2021 Daniel Gallen, pennlive.com
Penn State offensive lineman Mike Miranda walks the field before the Villanova game on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com © JOE HERMITT Penn State offensive lineman Mike Miranda walks the field before the Villanova game on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com

STATE COLLEGE — Penn State took care of business against a mature, solid Villanova team at Beaver Stadium, building a 38-3 lead before turning to its reserves to finish off a 38-17 victory. The Lions created big plays, including three scoring strikes of 50-plus yards, to improve to 4-0 going into the heart of their Big Ten schedule.

Penn State head coach James Franklin and his daughter Addy greet fans before the Villanova game on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com © JOE HERMITT Penn State head coach James Franklin and his daughter Addy greet fans before the Villanova game on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com

Check out final summaries of Penn State’s scoring plays as it took down the No. 7 team in the nation in the FCS ranks.

First quarter, 12:59 | Penn State 7, Villanova 0

Well, that didn’t take long. Penn State took a 7-0 lead over Villanova on its first offensive play when quarterback Sean Clifford hit wide receiver Jahan Dotson for a 52-yard touchdown. The Wildcats played the Nittany Lions star one-on-one and he easily beat his deep. Clifford placed the ball perfectly, and Penn State is in business.

Penn State head coach James Franklin throws a ball during warm ups before the Villanova game on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com © JOE HERMITT Penn State head coach James Franklin throws a ball during warm ups before the Villanova game on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com

First quarter, 1:21 | Penn State 7, Villanova 3

Penn State had the opportunity to pull away from Villanova on both sides of the ball later in the first quarter, but the Nittany Lions couldn’t take advantage. First, kicker Jordan Stout missed a 53-yard field goal wide right to keep the score at 7-0. The Nittany Lions had put together a nice drive, but quarterback Sean Clifford missed a couple open throws.

Penn State defensive tackle PJ Mustipher sacks Villanova quarterback Daniel Smith during the second quarter on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com © JOE HERMITT Penn State defensive tackle PJ Mustipher sacks Villanova quarterback Daniel Smith during the second quarter on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com

Villanova took advantage and drove into Penn State territory on the heels of a 17-yard pass from quarterback Daniel Smith to wide receiver Jaaron Hayek on third-and-11. The Nittany Lions had the chance to get off the field when safety Ji’Ayir Brown hauled in a tipped Smith pass, but the interception was wiped out by a roughing the passer penalty on defensive tackle Dvon Ellies.

Penn State wide receiver Parker Washington outruns Villanova defensive back Ethan Potter for a 52-yard touchdown catch during the second quarter on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com © JOE HERMITT Penn State wide receiver Parker Washington outruns Villanova defensive back Ethan Potter for a 52-yard touchdown catch during the second quarter on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com

With Villanova knocking on the door of the red zone, the Penn State defense stepped up and got off the field. Wildcats kicker Cole Bunce was good from 39 yards out to cut the Nittany Lions lead down to 7-3.

Second quarter, 14:07 | Penn State 14, Villanova 3

The Penn State offense has scuffled a little bit with Villanova in the trenches when it comes to moving the ball on the ground, but the Nittany Lions have found some explosive plays through the air. Penn State took a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter when quarterback Sean Clifford hit wide receiver Parker Washington in stride over the middle and Washington took it the rest of the way for a 52-yard touchdown. It’s Clifford’s second 52-yard touchdown of the day.

Earlier in the drive, Clifford showed off some good awareness when he rolled right on third-and-9, began to scramble and pulled up to hit tight end Theo Johnson after Johnson’s defender came up to pursue Clifford. Johnson made a couple Wildcats defenders miss for a 25-yard gain:

Johnson has put together a couple impressive highlights over the past few weeks.

Second quarter, 8:26 | Penn State 17, Villanova 3

The Nittany Lions offense has had no shortage of big plays this afternoon, but they’ve struggled a bit when it comes to the normal rhythms of the game. After a couple ugly plays, Sean Clifford hit Parker Washington for a 67-yard gain — if Clifford had led Washington, it probably would have been a touchdown — down to the Villanova 9, but then the offense stalled out before Jordan Stout extended the lead to two touchdowns with a 29-yard field goal.

Penn State linebacker Jesse Luketa tackles Villanova quarterback Daniel Smith during the second quarter on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com © JOE HERMITT Penn State linebacker Jesse Luketa tackles Villanova quarterback Daniel Smith during the second quarter on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com

HALFTIME | Penn State 17, Villanova 3

Penn State wide receiver Parker Washington splits Villanova defenders during the second quarter on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com © JOE HERMITT Penn State wide receiver Parker Washington splits Villanova defenders during the second quarter on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com

Outside of a couple big pass plays that led to points, the Villanova defense has been up to the task against the Penn State offense. The end of the first half was illustrative. The Nittany Lions got the ball at the Wildcats 44 with about 2 minutes left. After running back Devyn Ford carried for three yards on the first play of the drive, quarterback Sean Clifford took a sack that lost six yards. On third down, Clifford held the ball and was tripped up as he tried to escape the pocket and gained one yard.

The 52-yard touchdowns to Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington were pretty, but the Penn State offense has been a little disjointed against a team with a clear size and speed disadvantage. Clifford is averaging 16.1 yards per attempt, but the Lions running backs are averaging just 2.4 yards per carry.

Penn State defensive tackle PJ Mustipher celebrates a sack during the second quarter on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com © JOE HERMITT Penn State defensive tackle PJ Mustipher celebrates a sack during the second quarter on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com

Luckily, the Penn State defense has mostly clamped down on the Wildcats offense, and Villanova is averaging just 1.9 yards per play. The Nittany Lions are hoping to get some younger players some run this afternoon, but Penn State needs to pull away for that to happen.

Third quarter, 14:14 | Penn State 24, Villanova 3

Penn State kicked off the second half in much the same way it did the first, this time on an 83-yard touchdown pass from Sean Clifford to KeAndre Lambert-Smith. Clifford’s first look was taken away by the Villanova defense, so he tucked, ran, and looked up to find a wide-open Lambert-Smith on the right sideline.

Lambert-Smith made the easy grab and turned upfield, cutting to the inside of the field to find all the room he needed to streak for another big play for the Lions passing attack.

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford and offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich during warm ups before the Villanova game on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com © JOE HERMITT Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford and offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich during warm ups before the Villanova game on Sept. 25, 2021. Joe Hermitt | jhermitt@pennlive.com

Third quarter, 1:58 | Penn State 31, Villanova 3

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford had pristine blocking in front of him and stayed patient in the pocket to throw his fourth touchdown of the afternoon. Clifford threw a bullet to Parker Washington in the middle of the end zone for his second touchdown grab of the game. Big plays were again on the Lions’ side as they stretched their lead to 31-3 late in the third quarter.

Fourth quarter, 13:58 | Penn State 38, Villanova 3

Penn State broke into its jumbo Wildcat formation with Tyler Warren taking a direct snap, and once again, Warren found enough running room to punch in a short touchdown. He did it with power this time, bursting through a crease in the Villanova defense for a 3-yard score.

FINAL | Penn State 38, Villanova 17

Penn State led 38-3 when James Franklin made sweeping personnel changes on both sides of the ball, holding on for a 38-17 victory. A late fumble by Lions running back Tank Smith was reversed upon review, which also wiped away a scoop-and-score touchdown for the Wildcats. Following that review, quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson took one snap and knelt on the ball to run out the clock.

Read more: How to bet No. 6 Penn State vs. Villanova: point spread, players to watch and TV/streaming info

Read more: Big Ten football Week 4 betting odds, picks, schedule and TV info

Daniel Gallen covers Penn State for PennLive. He can be reached at dgallen@pennlive.com. You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Follow PennLive’s Penn State coverage on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From PennLive.com

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon