Michigan burned by 'mistakes,' big plays as Penn State races to huge lead

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

State College, Pa. — Penn State raced to a 21-0 lead in the first half of its win over Michigan after gashing the Wolverines with three big plays.

Michigan gave up a 37-yard pass play, a 44-yard run and a 25-yard touchdown pass in the first half. While the defense stiffened in the second half and held the Nittany Lions to 80 yards, K.J. Hamler was able to secure another big-chunk play on a 53-yard touchdown pass from Sean Clifford.

Penn State wide receiver KJ Hamler scores after catching a pass from quarterback Sean Clifford.

Penn State remained unbeaten with a 28-21 victory over Michigan at Beaver Stadium Saturday night. The Nittany Lions had 283 yards of offense, including 182 yards passing. Quarterback Sean Clifford was 14-of-25 and had three touchdowns. He also ran for a score.

“It was nothing that they did,” Michigan linebacker Khaleke Hudson said, explaining Penn State’s big plays in the first half. “It wasn’t that they out-schemed us. It was just our mistakes that we made ourselves. Things we know how to do but we messed up. We had to put it behind us. We couldn’t keep worrying about it throughout the whole game. We came out in the second half and showed how good we really are.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh praised defensive coordinator Don Brown for tightening the defense in the second half.

“Made good adjustments,” Harbaugh said. “Did what they had to do, got the ball back for the offense. Gave our team a chance to win.”

Harbaugh said the play that Hamler scored on was a miscommunication.

“Players didn’t get the call, so we didn’t have a post safety,” he said.

Linebacker Cam McGrone, who had six tackles and a sack, said those first-half letdowns proved costly.

“We gave up some key explosive plays at the beginning and they came back to hurt us,” McGrone said. “In a game like this, with a team as good as this, we can’t allow any explosive plays.”

Defensive end Kwity Paye, who led the team with 10 tackles, said there was a resilience to the defense.

“There’s no quit in us,” he said. “We was down 21-0 early, and we came together as a team and just said, ‘Let’s keep playing, Let’s keep fighting. Everybody do your job.’ Offense was playing excellent  defense started to play our ball.

“There’s four quarters to our game. The first half doesn’t define our team. We have to fight for our fourth quarters.”


Twitter: @chengelis