It wasn’t just the 300th win in Beaver Stadium, the largest home opening crowd since 2008, or the way our football squad pummeled their opponent into submission that gave us all chills last weekend. No, it was all of it woven together that made the home opener so special. The final score may have read 44-13 in Penn State’s favor, but the victory dance truly kicked off before the game even began. That’s not a rub on our opponent Ball State. It’s just that life is so much better when all of us are together as we were last weekend.
As I watched the RVs and tricked out tailgates methodically make their way back, I knew a small battle had already been won. Whether we jumped right in or eased our way into it, we were in Happy Valley once again, decked out in our best set of blue and whites. On behalf of those that couldn’t make it, trust me when I say, you’re spirit roared through us all. Fall was made for days like these and after the long hard battle that was 2020 and early 2021, this week’s Game Ball goes straight to Nittany Nation for keeping the game day spirit alive!
You couldn’t have asked for a more sun-splashed day as 105K made their way inside the hallowed grounds, and the Nittany Lions did not disappoint. Sean Clifford and company went straight to work with precision and did not relent until the game was well in hand. Any faint chance of a comeback was officially shut early in the third quarter as Jesse Luketa romped his way to a Pick 6 that stretched the lead to 31-6 and put a win out of reach for the Cardinals. Oh, Canada indeed as the native to our North, former linebacker/hybrid warrior continues to play the X-Factor role to perfection.
Noah Cain and Keyvone Lee pounded the defending MAC champs into the ground with short, effective bursts. Parker Washington continues to make defenses think twice about keeping Jahan Dotson on lockdown, and if all else fails, pick your poison between tight ends Brenton Strange and Theo Johnson. Go ahead, I dare you, spoken in my evilest voice.
Transfer Eric Winston clearly makes the O-Line more formidable when he’s on the field, while fellow transfer Arnold Ebekitie continued to dominate where he left off against Wisconsin. DaQuan 'Lost Amongst All the Stars’ Hardy made life unbearable out on those islands as the former three-star snatched an interception of his own. That makes four total after two games for a D that only had four on the books all last season. Who knows if we would have made a difference a year ago? I imagine a stadium full of rabid fanatics is a far more welcome site than empty seats and cardboard cutouts after plays like that.
For all the heartwarming moments of reacquainting ourselves with one another face-to-face over the weekend, you all know that this was nothing more than a dress rehearsal for what’s to come. The offense is high octane and just getting revved up. The defense is lethal and rested, and the man in charge has been at his most sterling best. Almost as if the adversity of a year ago has served as a catalyst for what’s to come, wink, wink. Make no mistake, this weekend was for Nittany Nation. Up next, we invite the world to a primetime matchup with Auburn. Don’t look now, but I feel a blizzard coming and it’s already giving me the chills!