By Andy Stine
Although it was clear early that there wasn’t going to be any major hangover after a key win over Auburn last week, Penn State still left something to be desired in a 38-17 victory over FCS opponent Villanova on a sun-splashedSaturday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions were held to just 80 yards on the ground, with John Lovett leading the way with 45 yards on 11 carries. Keyvone Lee added 21 yards on seven carries. Many of those rushing yards came in the second half.
It’s a pattern for the Wildcats, who held Lehigh to negative yards rushing, and not a whole lot more on the ground in wins over Bucknell and Richmond. But those three schools are all FCS teams, and Penn State was ranked sixth in the FBS coming into Saturday.
It’s even more puzzling that Penn State had an easier time running the ball against Auburn than it did against the Wildcats.
Although the Lions had trouble running the ball, the passing game stayed on point. Sean Clifford finished the day with 401 yards on 19-of-26 passing with four touchdowns, including three that went 52 yards or more. He also had a second-half interception.
Jahan Dotson caught a 52-yard touchdown on the Lion’s first play on offense to open the scoring early.
Parker Washington also hauled in a 52-yard touchdown from Clifford, while KeAndre Lambert-Smith zigged and zagged for an 83-yard touchdown early in the second half. Washington added a 23-yard touchdown late in the third quarter to make it 31-3.
Tyler Warren added a touchdown run from three yards on a direct snap early in the fourth quarter to make it 38-3.
Other than a broken coverage in the fourth quarter that resulted in a touchdown, the PSU defense was solid. The other 10 points came on a field goal after a Ji’Ayir Brown interception was wiped out on a roughing the passer penalty. The Wildcats also scored on PSU’s backups in the final two minutes of the game.
Penn State is back at Beaver Stadium for the fourth straight week next Saturday as it hosts Indiana for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
NOTES: Villanova tight end Tyler Will was carted off on a stretcher after sustaining a concussion on the opening kickoff of the second half. Will was taken to the hospital for observations and was fully alert after the incident. … Former Penn State offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski, who spent 10 seasons in the NFL and retired in August, served as honorary captain. … Last year’s PSU wrestling national champions Roman Bravo-Young, Nick Lee, Carter Starocci, and Aaron Brooks were recognized at the end of the first quarter. … Attendance at Beaver Stadium was announced at 105,790.