STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Penn State’s Sean Clifford and Indiana’s Peyton Ramsey cultivated a friendship during their years as young quarterbacks in Ohio. While the two faced each other a couple of times at their respective high schools in Cincinnati, this weekend marked the first time they did so as college starters.
Clifford ultimately edged Ramsey in the battle of Ohio-born quarterbacks as Penn State defeated Indiana 34-27 on Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium.
After the game, the two signal-callers found each other on the field and shared a moment.
“It’s always just cool when you see guys that you’ve played with or went to camps with succeeding,” Clifford said. “Peyton played a great game today. He threw for a lot of yards and was really composed. I just told him I’m super proud to be from the same city and to represent the same area.”
Clifford accounted for 234 yards (179 passing, 55 rushing) and three touchdowns to send No. 9 Penn State (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) to its ninth win of the season and bounce back from last week’s three-turnover performance.
Ramsey was 31-of-41 passing for a career-high 371 yards with one touchdown. He added another 31 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
“Peyton (is) just tremendously effective, tough, gritty,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said. “Seems like I say that all the time, don’t I? That’s what he is. (He) got some big runs, made some good throws against a very, very good defense.”
Indiana wide receiver Whop Philyor left the game in the first quarter after being hit on a catch and run. Allen confirmed postgame the Hoosiers’ leading receiver is now in concussion protocol. Philyor tallied 50 yards receiving and 10 yards rushing before his injury.
Penn State held a 27-24 lead over Indiana (7-3, 4-3) with just fewer than 10 minutes remaining. The Nittany Lions’ offense strung together an 18-play, 75-yard drive that consumed 9:01 off the clock and put them ahead by two scores after a 1-yard touchdown run from Clifford.
The Hoosiers went 91 yards on 11 plays and trimmed their deficit to seven points following a 1-yard run by Ramsey with 13 seconds left to play. Penn State recovered Indiana’s on-side kick attempt and then kneeled to run out the clock.
“It hurts,” Ramsey said. “So many opportunities (on) both sides of the ball that we just didn’t capitalize. And, at the end of the day, that’s what it’s about. When you get your chances, you have to make them. We just didn’t do it often enough today.”
Penn State was the beneficiary of two Indiana special teams miscues the Nittany Lions turned into 14 points. Philyor muffed a punt in the first quarter that Penn State recovered at the Hoosiers’ 27. The Nittany Lions scored five plays later.
Indiana also turned the football over on downs after a 4-yard loss on a fake punt in the third quarter. The direct snap went to the Hoosiers’ upback, who was tackled for a 4-yard loss. Penn State needed just two plays to score.
Allen explained the fake-punt miscue postgame.
“We had a true freshman long snapper that made a mistake,” Allen said. “Sean’s (Wracher) had a great season. Awesome kid. As you noticed, Peyton was surprised to get the ball. He wasn’t supposed to. So it was just a mistake. What do you say? He was frustrated with himself. When he came off, he realized it. It was just unfortunate, pretty costly for sure. But he’s done a great job. He’ll learn from it, and it won’t happen again.”
Philyor’s absence didn’t hinder the Hoosiers’ passing game. Ty Fryfogle caught five passes for 131 yards and one touchdown, and David Ellis recorded seven catches for 85 yards.
“Every day in practice, I practice with the mindset of I’m going to be playing on Saturday, so whenever there is an opportunity for me to end up playing or he needs a breather or he, unfortunately, gets hurt, that’s when I step up for my brothers and just play hard,” said Ellis, a freshman.
Indiana accumulated 462 total yards, 23 first downs and was 4-for-4 from the red zone.
While the Hoosiers’ trip to Happy Valley ended in a loss, the contest was a measuring stick for the upstart program. The last time Indiana faced a top-10 opponent this season, it suffered a 41-point loss.
This time around, the Hoosiers fell just shy of nabbing their first victory in Beaver Stadium.
“We came here to win, and we battled them. Their coaching staff was very respectful, and they understood that, and they recognize who we are and how we have changed over the last few years,” Allen said. “Day by day, step by step, we are building this thing. Next step is winning these kinds of games.”