Penn State Uses Strong Second Half to Pull Away from Kent State

Henry Palattella

Kent State’s (0-1) drought against the Big 10 continues as sophomores Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley led Penn State (1-0) past the Flashes, 33-13.

The Flashes are now 0-16 against Big 10 teams in their 94-year history.

“Proud of our games and the way we played, we played hard,” Head Coach Paul Haynes said after the game. “Of course disappointed when you lose, I think we had some opportunities to finish the game and win the game and we didn’t finish.”

McSorley passed 209 yards on 16-31 and two touchdowns, while Barkley ran for 105 yards.

Kent State struck first using key runs from freshman Justin Agner and a facemask call on Penn State to extend their drive deep into Nittany Lion territory when Shane Hynes would knock down a 26-yard field goal.

Penn State responded on the very next drive, with McSorley finding junior DaeSean Hamilton for a four-yard touchdown to take a 6-3 lead after failing the two-point conversion.

Kent State knotted the score up at six after another Haynes field goal, but the tie was short-lived, as Penn State got the ball back deep in Kent State territory after a fumble from sophomore Myles Washington. The Nittany Lions took a 13-6 lead two plays later when Barkley punched it in from seven yards out.

Kent State’s defense made it presence known on Penn State’s next possession, though, as senior Terence Waugh forced a McSorley fumble recovered by senior Elcee Refuge who ran for a 20-yard touchdown. Penn State would add a Tyler Davis field goal to make the score 16-13 at halftime.

Penn State started the second half scoring on its third play when sophomore Amani Oruwariye picked off Agner for a 30-yard Penn State touchdown. The Nittany Lions concluded the scoring with McSorley finding junior Mike Gesicki for a 30-yard touchdown.

McSorley finished the day 16-of-31 for 209 yards on and two touchdowns. Barkley ran for 105 yards and added a touchdown on the ground.

The Flashes had a revolving door at quarterback all day, as Agner, freshman Mylik Mitchell and sophomore George Bollas, all saw time. Agner went 8-15 with 64 yards but threw two interceptions. Mitchell went 6-of-12 for 65 yards and also picked up 27 yards on the ground. George Bollas incompleted on his only pass of the day.

“A lot of things that we need to work on,” Haynes said. “But going into the week you kind of knew it, you didn’t know how (Mitchell and Agner) were going to react, with George being the only one who was battle tested. But again those guys made some plays, kept drives alive with their feet, we just have to make better decisions.”

Freshman Justin Rankin showed the Flashes they have a lot to look forward to in their future, as he ran for 82 yards over 13 carries in his first taste of Collegiate action, and he says that he felt prepared for the college game

“I thought it was going to be a lot faster,” Rankin said. “I watched a lot of film and it really slowed the game down for me.”

Kent State will play in its home opener next week against North Carolina A&T. Kick off Saturday is at 6 p.m.