Kent State at Penn State

McSorley, Barkley lead Penn State over Kent State 33-13

By TRAVIS JOHNSON
Associated Press
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) Trace McSorley isn't offended when he sees defenders packing the line of scrimmage, knowing their primary goal is to stop the electric running back lined up next to or behind him on any given play.

The Penn State quarterback is content to build his own reputation as a playmaker, and eventually, a downfield-passer to be reckoned with.

Although he and the rest of Penn State's new-look offense started slowly in a 33-13 win over Kent State on Saturday, McSorley believes he made positive first steps toward that goal.

''When you've got Saquon (Barkley) in the backfield, teams are going to try to stop him,'' McSorley said. ''The first two drives we kind of got stalled out. The third drive we were able to get some first downs, push the ball down the field a little bit to our receivers to loosen them up a little bit and let Saquon get loose a couple of times.''

Barkley finished with 105 yards rushing, and Tyler Davis chipped in two field goals for the Nittany Lions. A 29-yard field goal in the second quarter gave Penn State a 16-13 halftime lead that grew as an opportunistic defense settled in and McSorley found receivers down the field.

After hitting DaeSean Hamilton for a short touchdown pass in the first, McSorley slung a ball to Mike Gesicki for 30 yards to cap the scoring with less than two minutes to go. It was a satisfying finish for the quarterback who'd tried to stretch Kent State's underrated front seven early with deep throws to Saeed Blacknall and Gesicki that just missed.

In the process, McSorley showed off own grittiness as a runner, chipping in 47 yards on the ground and lowering his head to finish off tacklers.

''I thought his composure was really good,'' Penn State coach James Franklin said. ''That's just kind of who he is.''

Amani Oruwariye returned an interception for a score in the third quarter for the Nittany Lions who battered a trio of Kent State quarterbacks, sacking them seven times and forcing two more turnovers.

Shane Hynes kicked two field goals for Kent State, and Elcee Refuge returned a McSorley fumble for a touchdown in the second quarter.

ALL OR NOTHING FRONT

Penn State safety Marcus Allen said earlier this week he and his defensive teammates had something to prove even after being ranked among the best defenses in college football each of the past two years.

He understands losing three defensive linemen to the NFL will generate questions of the new guys. After Saturday's sack-filled performance, they have plenty to be proud of. But scrambling quarterbacks are still a problem.

Kent State's threesome of Justin Agner, Mylik Mitchell and George Bollas combined for 50 first-half yards on in scrambles or designed quarterbacks runs. Many came up the middle where defensive tackles Parker Cothren and Kevin Givens made their first career starts.

''It was either a sack or it was a scramble for a first down,'' Franklin said. ''We've got to do a better job with our rush lanes on that side of the ball.''

INTERCHANGEABLE PARTS

Perhaps Penn State's greatest strength is the versatility it has among its back seven.

The Nittany Lions showed a multitude of nickel looks with different linebacker and corner combinations. Penn State deployed a total of eight defensive backs and five linebackers to limit 129 yards on just 14-of-28 passing.

''We've always been underrated since we've been here,'' Oruwariye said.

THE TAKEAWAY

KENT STATE: The Golden Flashes haven't had much going for them offensively in quite a while, but their defense remains stout enough to give them hope.

Kent State's front seven kept the game within reach by limiting Barkley's running room early. Vaunted pass-rusher Terence Waugh killed a big wave of Penn State momentum midway through the second quarter when he hammered McSorley from his blindside, forcing a fumble that Refuge returned for a touchdown to tie the game 13-13. If Waugh can keep making plays, the Golden Flashes will have chances to turn games around.

PENN STATE: A coordinator change doesn't guarantee immediate success. Saturday's sluggish start and uneven performance shows Joe Moorhead's offense will need more time for all its parts to get on the same page.

And the sooner the better as games loom against No. 7 Michigan, No. 6 Ohio State, and Maryland, teams that hung at least 52 points on its opponents in their openers. A bunch of missed tackles against Kent State is further evidence that Penn State's offense will have to pull more weight than it has in the two previous years when elite defenses could bail it out.

UP NEXT

Kent State will try to snap its six-game losing streak when it hosts FCS foe North Carolina A&T next Saturday.

Penn State and Pittsburgh will renew a long-dormant rivalry when the Nittany Lions travel to Heinz Field next Saturday for the first game in a home-and-home series. Penn State leads the series 50-42-4 and has won seven of the last eight. Pittsburgh won the last meeting 12-0 in 2000.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 
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Scoreboard
Kent State  (0-1)3100013
Penn State  (1-0) «61010733
Scoring Summary
KENTSTShane Hynes 26 yd FG
PSUDaeSean Hamilton 4 yd pass from Trace McSorley (failed 2pt rush)
KENTSTShane Hynes 43 yd FG
PSUSaquon Barkley 7 yd run (Tyler Davis kick)
KENTSTElcee Refuge 20 yd fumble return (Shane Hynes kick)
PSUTyler Davis 29 yd FG
PSUAmani Oruwariye 30 yd interception return (Tyler Davis kick)
PSUTyler Davis 28 yd FG
PSUMike Gesicki 30 yd pass from Trace McSorley (Tyler Davis kick)
 
Team Stats
 KENTSTPSU
First Downs1619
Third Down Efficiency5-175-14
Fourth Down Efficiency0-10-1
Plays-Net Yards69-27969-354
Rushes-Yds41-15038-145
Passing Yds129209
Kick Return Yds2288
Punt Return Yds222
Passes14-28-216-31-0
Punts6-2466-282
Fumbles-Lost2-12-1
Penalties-Yds6-475-55
Time of Poss.32:5627:4
 
Individual Stats
RUSHING
KENTST: Justin Rankin 13-82, Kavious Price 2-31, Mylik Mitchell 10-27, Justin Agner 12-7, Will Matthews 2-6, Nick Holley 1-4, George Bollas 1--7
PSU: Saquon Barkley 22-105, Trace McSorley 14-47, Andre Robinson 1--2, Team 1--5
PASSING
KENTST: Justin Agner 8-15-64-2, Mylik Mitchell 6-12-65-0, George Bollas 0-1-0-0
PSU: Trace McSorley 16-31-209-0
RECEIVING
KENTST: Nick Holley 4-45, Raekwon James 2-44, Justin Rankin 2-15, Kris White 1-12, Myles Washington 1-9, Brice Fackler 1-7, Ernest Calhoun 1-4, Trey Harrell 1--3, Kavious Price 1--4
PSU: Chris Godwin 7-67, Mike Gesicki 3-49, Saeed Blacknall 2-24, DaeSean Hamilton 2-9, DeAndre Thompkins 1-43, Saquon Barkley 1-17
 
Standings
TeamStandingsConferenceOverall
Kent State5th Mid American East2-63-9
Penn State1st Big Ten East8-111-3

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