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Monday November 20 2017
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PSU cheers and jeers: rivalry edition

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Peeling back the layers on a 33-14 Penn State victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers at Beaver Stadium Saturday afternoon.

By Jarrod Prugar

State College, PA — It wasn't pretty but Penn State (2-0) stayed focused on the task at hand and the details to take down in-state rival Pitt (1-1) 33-14 at Beaver Stadium Saturday afternoon. 

Here are the game's “Cheers and jeers.”

Cheers

Defense making big plays when necessary:

The defense of the Nittany Lions pitched a shoot-out last week against Akron, but this week against Pitt, they came out in the same fashion making big plays when needed to.

Grant Haley returned an interception 42-yards to set up the first Penn State touchdown of the day then followed it up two drives with sack on 3rd down to halt the drive for the Panthers.

In the red zone, the Nittany Lions defense held strong forcing Pitt to kick field goals on their first two trips inside the Penn State 20-yard line. It was on the third trip to the endzone that the Panthers finally found the end zone, on a Ben DiNucci 3-yard keeper. 

That touchdown was the first touchdown Penn State had allowed in 109:51 of game time

The defense forced five sacks, the last coming one via a strip-sack on the final Pitt offensive play of the game and held the Panthers to only five third down conversions on 17 opportunities. 

Marcus Allen recorded a safety taking down Darrin Hall in the end zone with Penn State up 14-points to all but seal the victory for his team.

It would be holding the Pitt offense to field goals on two of their red-zone possessions that ultimately helped the Nittany Lions to take down their in-state rival.

Quick Starts: 

Prior to this year, 2008 was the last year in which Penn State scored 14-points in the first quarter in back-to-back games. Mike Gesicki got the Nittany Lions on the board early in the first quarter with an eight-yard touchdown reception from Trace McSorley following Haley's interception return.

Penn State came out in the second half moving the football with Saquon Barkley getting in to the action in the ground game but the drive stumbled. After forcing Pitt to punt, the Nittany Lions didn't wait around going 46-yards to the end zone on a Barkley touchdown reception from McSorley.

The Saquon Barkley Show:

It took awhile for Saquon Barkley to get going but when he got it going in the second half Pitt felt it in both the running and passing game. 

After being held to 22-yards out of the backfield in the first half, Barkley became a factor rushing for 62-yards and a touchdown  following the half.

Barkley also found himself the recipient of a 46-yard touchdown pass from McSorley for the only touchdown of the third quarter for the Nittany Lions.

Jeers

Offense unable to get anything going in first half:

It took one play for the offense to get on the board following Haley's interception. On the ensuing drive, Penn State went three and out before a six play, 62-yard drive on the next drive put them on the board again.

Aside from that singular scoring drive, the offense could not sustain any traction against the Pitt defense, struggling to even get to five plays on a single drive. 

Highlight of the Game

The highlight of the game comes from DaeSean Hamilton.

Last year against Pitt, Hamilton struggled hauling in passes, but this year brought in an acrobatic reception to give the Nittany Lions a first down in the fourth quarter. 

Up Next

Penn State turns on the Beaver Stadium lights with their match-up against Georgia State kicking off in prime time next Saturday on the Big Ten Network. The Panthers of Georgia State last played August 31st, against FCS Tennessee State, a 17-10 loss. It was their first such loss against an FCS team since 19-12.

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