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Clifford, Freiermuth Lead No. 6 Penn State Past Michigan State, 28-7

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EAST LANSING, Mich. – Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford (Cincinnati, Ohio) threw four touchdown passes
and tight end Pat Freiermuth (Merrimac, Mass.) caught three of them as the No. 6 Nittany Lions defeated
Michigan State, 28-7, on a rainy Saturday afternoon in Spartan Stadium.


Penn State improved to 8-0 overall for the first time since 2008 and 5-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since
2011, while Michigan State fell to 4-4 and 2-3 in Big Ten play.


Freiermuth’s three touchdown catches were a career-best and enough to give the sophomore 15 for his career,
tying Penn State’s tight end career touchdown reception record (Mike Gesicki). He finished the day with five
catches for 60 yards to lead the Nittany Lions in receiving, while wide receiver KJ Hamler (Pontiac, Mich.) added
five catches for 57 yards and a touchdown. A total of eight different Lions tallied at least one reception.


Clifford threw four touchdown passes for the second time this season, tallying three in the first half. He completed
18-of-32 pass attempts for 189 yards and also rushed for a two-point conversion.


On defense, Penn State earned two interceptions and a fumble recovery and broke up eight passes while holding
the Spartans to just 265 yards of offense. Defensive leaders included linebacker Micah Parsons (Harrisburg, Pa.),
who led the team in tackles with 12, safety Lamont Wade (Clairton, Pa.), who had 1.5 tackles for loss and two
pass breakups, defensive end Jayson Oweh (Howell, N.J.), who had a pair of strip-sacks, and defensive backs
Marquis Wilson (Windsor, Conn.) and Jaquan Brisker (Pittsburgh, Pa.), who each tallied an interception.


The Nittany Lions also excelled on special teams with Blake Gillikin (Smyrna, Ga.) averaging 44.2 yards per punt
on eight punts with a long of 58 yards and five inside the 20. Penn State also recovered a fumble in punt
coverage, giving the team four takeaways for the game.


How It Happened
Penn State built a 21-0 lead in the first half on three touchdown passes from Clifford. Clifford found Freiermuth for
the first of his three touchdown tosses, first floating a 16-yard pass to Freiermuth in the end zone with 6:54
remaining in the first quarter, and then Freiermuth powered through a pair of defenders inside the 5-yard line after
the catch for a 19-yard touchdown catch 30 seconds into the second quarter.


The Nittany Lions failed to convert the extra point kick after Freiermuth’s second touchdown and led 13-0 as
Michigan State threatened to get on the scoreboard later in the quarter. The Spartans attempted a 46-yard field
goal, but Shaka Toney (Philadelphia, Pa.) burst through the line and blocked it with his helmet, and Keaton Ellis
(State College, Pa.) recovered it and returned it 8 yards to the Penn State 46. That led to an eight-play, 54-yard
touchdown drive capped by a 27-yard touchdown reception by Hamler with 1:20 remaining in the half. Clifford
then called his own number for a successful two-point conversion attempt.


Penn State went ahead 28-0 early in the third quarter despite going three-and-out on its first drive. However,
Gillikin’s 46-yard punt was muffed at the Michigan State 6-yard line by Brandon Sowards and Dan Chisena
(Downingtown, Pa.) recovered it for Penn State at the 6. Clifford connected with Freiermuth for a touchdown on
the very next play.


Michigan State answered on its next offensive possession, cutting the deficit to 28-7. Quarterback Brian Lewerke
connected with Cody White for a 49-yard completion to the Penn State 4, and Anthony Williams rushed into the
end zone from the 4 two plays later. The fourth quarter was scoreless.

Up Next:

Penn State has next Saturday off and then travels to No. 17/16 Minnesota for the first time since 2013 Saturday,
Nov. 2.