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Lions use big plays in passing game to down Villanova at Beaver Stadium

Clifford throws four TD's and over 400 yards, run games struggles

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — An absolutely beautiful fall day in Happy Valley as the top ten Nittany Lions took on Villanova.

Penn State back in Beaver Stadium for a tune-up against Villanova before Big Ten play starts once again next week.  Lions find a win but still have room for improvement. 

On this day though they wasted little time in making a point that they took this FCS opponent seriously. 

The band wasn't even seated when Brandon Smith lit up his own tune with a big hit for the defense on the opening drive.  

Sean Clifford and the offense did the same on their first play. Clifford went deep to Jahan Dotson and found him in stride wide open for six to put everyone in a dance mood.

In the second quarter Clifford was at it again, this time to Parker Washington on the slant who weaved and grooved his way in for a 52 yard score to put the Lions up 17-3 at the break.

After the break it was more of the same, the first team defense led by Arnold Ebiketie who recorded another sack for his season tally was stiff into the third quarter.  On offense after a 83 yard pitch and catch to KeAndre Lambert-Smith, Clifford hit Washington again this time from 23 yards out to make it 31-3 at the point.

On the day Clifford racks up four touchdowns and 401 yards as he rings the bell on a 38-17 victory.

One struggle for Penn State was the inability to run the football consistently. It is an area they know they need to improve on after just 80 yards on 34 attempts.

"I don't know what it is, I need to watch this tape, what exactly happened, there's a lot that goes into it," said quarterback Sean Clifford.  "It's just one of those things that you watch film and get better, and we will."

Coach James Franklin agreed as he wasn't his normal upbeat self after the win. While making sure to not treat a victory as a loss, it was obvious that there was some disappointment in the way the run game performed.

"We just have to gradually takes steps in the run game, continuing to get better in the passing game which I still think there's a lot of room for improvement as well," said Franklin. When asked where he would like to see the run, Franklin jokingly said he wants to lead the nation in rushing.  He later added, "But it's not like we're going to come in next week and rush for 400 yards."  

A point of emphasis going forward for the Lions according to Clifford is not to give away days at practice.

"Wednesday's practice was not as good as it needed to be.  That's on the leadership of the offense and the leadership of the team.  We can't let that slide."

Both Franklin and Clifford said the team did not practice well on Wednesday this week.  While Coach Franklin didn't say positive press clippings are "Rat Poison" he did say he felt the team was reading some of the positive things being written and said about them.  

Next up for Penn State is Indiana at Beaver Stadium in a 7:30 kick then a trip to Iowa in a 4pm showdown of top ten teams on the road in a game you can see right here on FOX43.

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