No. 11 Penn State’s record breaking display downs Flashes

Kent State’s Matt Bahr tackles Penn State’s Miles Sanders during the first half of their matchup on Sept. 15, 2018. Kent State lost 63-10.

Ian Kreider

One-way traffic is a phrase that normally describes the hustling, busting nature of the roads in a football town on a Saturday. This Saturday, it could also be used in describing the stagnant play of Kent State’s offense in a 63-10 loss.

The Flashes (1-2) were unable to keep its defense off the field, allowing No. 11 Penn State’s quarterback and Heisman hopeful Trace McSorley to hang 63 points. McSorley finished with three rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns – the first time a Big Ten quarterback accomplished such a feat since Ohio State’s Braxton Miller in 2013.

The Nittany Lion’s 63 points could have been much worse as they had three touchdowns negated by penalties.

Kent State’s offensive line had trouble protecting quarterback Woody Barrett all night as he was sacked a season-high seven times.

“It was a combination of a lot of things,” coach Sean Lewis said of the constant pressure. “I thought Woody did a good job going through his reads. He missed a few check downs, but that’s going to happen. Some were just simple protection breakdowns … Woody made the right decisions, and our receiver didn’t win downfield.”

Early on, he got the overly eager Nittany Lions’ defensive line to jump offside three times, resulting in a 47-yard touchdown throw to junior wide receiver Mike Carrigan — the Flashes’ lone touchdown.

Cornerback Elvis Hines also was a ray of sunlight on an otherwise dreary day for Kent State. The sophomore had a near pick-six off McSorley while also totalling four tackles.

The Flashes were able to muster 10 points in the first half but gave up a McSorley touchdown run with four seconds left before halftime that not only gave Penn State a 28-10 lead, but also the momentum.

The Flashes’ rushing attack was nonexistent all afternoon, compiling a season-low 41 yards on 37 attempts.

“We knew we were going to have to be great in our one-on-one matchups, especially up front,” Lewis said. “Obviously, we didn’t do that well enough, and we need to get back to the drawing board and find a better way to do that as we face another quality opponent.”

The team also finished with 10 penalties for 83 yards; the second game in a row in which the team had been flagged more than 10 times.

“Those are self-inflicted wounds,” Lewis said of the team’s struggles with penalties. “We need to learn how to get out of our own way.”

The Flashes’ forced a punt on the Nittany Lions’ first drive, but a roughing the kicker penalty extended the drive. McSorley made the Flashes pay on the next play, hitting DeAndre Thompkins for a 40-yard touchdown pass.

Penn State pulled McSorley at the end of the third quarter, but his absence didn’t slow down the offense. Backup quarterback Sean Clifford had a 95-yard passing touchdown, breaking the previous school record of 92 yards held on a passing touchdown from Bill Hess to Bob Higgins in 1919.

Overall, the Flashes are focusing on improvement, but Lewis did see some positives.

“I thought, the way that we started, the defense did a great job getting off the field,” Lewis said. “The offense came out and sustained a nice drive and to have a touchdown early on was great.”

The team will need to sustain multiple scoring drives as they face an Ole Miss team (2-1) that is averaging the most yards per play in the country (9.39).

The game is set to kickoff at noon on Saturday inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Ian Kreider is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].