STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Sean Clifford threw for 264 yards with three touchdowns and ran for another score as No. 12 Penn State routed Purdue 35-7 on Saturday.
The Nittany Lions (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) were dominant on defense, with 10 sacks, one shy of the school single-game record. The Boilermakers were held to 104 yards.
Playing without starting quarterback Elijah Sindelar and star receiver Rondale Moore, the Boilermakers didn’t cross midfield until their sixth possession midway through the second.
Penn State jumped out fast, scoring on its first four drives, none lasting longer than 3:41.
KJ Hamler beat single coverage for a 23-yard touchdown catch to open the scoring and Clifford added a 3-yard touchdown run to cap Penn State’s second possession. The Nittany Lions turned a three-and-out by Purdue into an easy score immediately after when Jahan Dotson caught a pass over the middle and raced 72 yards, getting a good block from Hamler on the way to the end zone.
Penn State finished another quick drive with a 7-yard pass from Clifford to tight end Pat Freiermuth early in the second quarter. Noah Cain finished with 105 yards on 12 carries and added a 2-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth.
Yetur Gross-Matos and Shaka Toney combined for five sacks for Penn State. Clifford completed 20 of his 29 passes.
Purdue finally broke Penn State’s seven-quarter shutout streak dating to Week 3 when Plummer connected with Amad Anderson Jr. on a 15-yard touchdown pass. Anderson’s catch made it 28-7 in the second quarter.
Plummer finished with 119 yards on 13-for-27 passing. He was sacked on two of Purdue’s final three plays of the first half before slowly pulling himself up and wobbling into the locker room. He was replaced later with Aidan O’Connell.
Purdue: The banged-up Boilermakers were overmatched early but settled down and held Penn State’s multi-headed offense off for much of the second half. Getting Moore back at some point should help, but he’s not going to help a defense that entered the day allowing 451 yards and 33 points per game.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions built a big lead off explosive plays and were able to play the second half close to the vest. They opted to chew clock rather than air it out, mindful that a much tougher tests awaits in Iowa City next week.
Purdue hosts Maryland on Saturday.
Penn State visits No. 14 Iowa on Saturday.