Sep 11, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Ball State Cardinals at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

QB Sean Clifford guides No. 11 Penn State past Ball State

Sean Clifford accounted for two touchdowns Saturday as No. 13 Penn State cruised to a 44-13 home win over Ball State in non-conference action from University Park, Pa.

Noah Cain contributed 99 total yards and a touchdown for Penn State (2-0), which rode the momentum from last week’s road win against then-No. 12 Wisconsin. The Nittany Lions outgained the Cardinals 240-69 on the ground in their first game with fans at Beaver Stadium since November 2019.

Clifford finished 21 of 29 for 230 yards and a touchdown, and the senior added 66 yards and a score on 11 carries.

Drew Plitt was 25 of 39 for 176 yards and two interceptions for Ball State (1-1). It did not help that the Cardinals managed only 2.7 yards per carry. Justin Hall led the team with six catches for 35 yards, while Parker Washington paced the Nittany Lions with six catches for 57 yards.

Penn State drove 75-plus yards to the end zone on each of its first two drives. Cain’s 5-yard TD run capped a 13-play march to set the tone for the contest, and then just over four minutes later, Clifford plunged in from 1 yard out to make it 14-0.

The highlight of the second quarter was Jahan Dotson’s nifty 25-yard touchdown catch in which he flashed some impressive footwork on his way to the end zone. Ball State kicked two field goals in the period — one in the opening minute and one at the halftime buzzer — to enter the locker room trailing 24-6.

Nittany Lions linebacker Jesse Luketa stepped in front of Plitt’s pass and made a one-handed interception, rumbling 16 yards to the end zone with about six minutes left in the third quarter to make it 31-6.

Penn State’s Jordan Stout tacked on two more field goals before the Cardinals scored their only touchdown on a 6-yard rush by Carson Steele with 6:54 remaining in the game.

Ta’Quan Roberson capped the scoring with his 23-yard pass to Theo Johnson with 2:10 to go.

–Field Level Media

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford (14) airs out a pass during the third quarter of their game against Wisconsin  Saturday, September 4, 2021 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis. Penn State beat Wisconsin 16-10.

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After beating Wisconsin, No. 11 Penn State meets Ball State

After posting a quality road win in its season opener, No. 11 Penn State will return home to face Ball State in non-conference action on Saturday afternoon.

The Nittany Lions (1-0) defeated then-No. 12 Wisconsin last weekend, forcing three turnovers en route to a 16-10 Big Ten triumph. Coach James Franklin’s team held the ball for just 17:09 (compared with 42:51 for the Badgers) but mustered enough offense in the second half after the teams went into the locker room in a scoreless tie.

“Overall, a gutsy win on the road against a really good opponent. … A lot to build on. A lot to learn from,” Franklin said.

Saturday’s matchup will mark Penn State’s first game in front of fans at Beaver Stadium since November 2019.

“It would really be powerful if we started a sellout streak in Beaver Stadium, create a home field advantage like no other in college football!” Franklin tweeted Sunday. “Let’s come together as a community like never before and show the world why this is ‘Happy Valley’! #WeAre Let’s do it TOGETHER!”

Sean Clifford passed for 247 yards and a touchdown in the Nittany Lions’ opener. Jahan Dotson accounted for 102 of those yards, snagging five receptions, including a 49-yard touchdown.

Noah Cain contributed eight carries for 48 yards and a touchdown and also caught five passes, matching Dotson for the team lead.

Those names undoubtedly are familiar to a Ball State team that went 7-1 en route to the Mid-American Conference championship last season and topped Western Illinois 31-21 in its 2021 opener.

Drew Plitt passed for two touchdowns as part of a 188-yard performance through the air in that game, while Justin Hall was his favorite target with eight catches for 137 yards and two TDs. Will Jones registered 93 rushing yards, including a score, to fuel the Cardinals’ ground game.

Ball State (1-0), like Penn State, got off to a quiet start in its opener. The Cardinals were tied with the Leathernecks 7-7 at halftime before the teams combined for 38 points after intermission.

“Obviously we are 1-0, and that is the most important thing that happened tonight,” Ball State coach Mike Neu said. “But we have a lot of things we need to clean up. We didn’t play a great first half and put the defense in a bad position. However, I was proud of the way we came back out in the second half, established the line of scrimmage, and did a great job of controlling the clock.”

The Cardinals return 23 starters (including special teams) from last year’s squad — and those players combine for more than 400 career starts.

This is the first-ever matchup between Penn State and Ball State. But Penn State is 27-3 against current MAC members.

Nittany Lions linebacker Ellis Brooks will miss the first half against Ball State after being called for targeting and ejected during the fourth quarter against Wisconsin.

–Field Level Media

Dec 31, 2020; Tucson, AZ, USA; San Jose State Spartans tight end Derrick Deese Jr. (87) is upended against the Ball State Cardinals in the first half of the Arizona Bowl at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ball State captures first bowl win in history vs. No. 22 San Jose State

No. 22 San Jose State was in a bind before Thursday’s Arizona Bowl started with eight coaches and players not available for undisclosed reasons, which contributed to the Spartans’ 34-13 loss to Ball State in Tucson.

Behind Drew Plitt’s 217 yards on 12-of-19 passing, the Cardinals (7-1) achieved their first bowl victory in program history and are now 1-8-1.

A few minutes before kickoff, San Jose State (7-1) announced offensive and defensive coordinators — Kevin McGiven and Derrick Odum, respectively — and Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Cade Hall, a defensive end, were unavailable for the game.

Also not in Arizona Stadium were receiver Bailey Gaither, running back/kickoff returner Shamar Garrett, safety Tre Jenkins and offensive linemen Kyle Hoppe and Tyler Stevens.

Hall led San Jose State this season with 10 sacks and 12 tackles for loss and was named a first-team All-America this week by the Sporting News.

The Spartans also lost tight end Derrick Deese, who had a team-high five touchdown receptions entering the game, after he hurt his neck early in the first quarter while making a reception.

Ball State stunned San Jose State with a 27-0 lead in the first quarter, and it maintained that advantage at halftime.

Antonio Phillips started the scoring returning an interception 53 yards to the end zone with 12:47 left in the first quarter.

Nick Starkel, the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, threw the pick. He completed 25 of 42 passes for 268 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. He sat out a possession in the second quarter because of a knee injury.

Will Jones and Tye Evans each scored on 3-yard runs in Ball State’s first two offensive possessions and then Plitt rushed in from a yard on a quarterback sneak to put the Cardinals ahead 27-0 with 1:04 left in the first quarter.

His score occurred six plays after Ball State’s Nic Jones blocked a punt, giving the Cardinals the ball at the San Jose State 35.

Plitt’s 48-yard touchdown pass to Yo’Heinz Tyler with 9:42 left in the third quarter increased the lead to 34-0.

Charlie Bostic followed with a 99-yard kickoff return to put San Jose State on the board. A 2-point conversion pass failed.

Starkel’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Jermai Braddock with 1 second left in the third quarter completed the scoring.

–Field Level Media