Daequan Hardy became the first player in Penn State history to score two punt return touchdowns in a single game and the No. 6 Nittany Lions trounced visiting Massachusetts 63-0 Saturday afternoon in nonconference play at University Park, Pa.
Penn State (6-0) took a 28-0 halftime lead and more than doubled it in the second half, outgaining the visitors 408-109 in total thanks in large part to quarterback Drew Allar’s 16-of-23, 162-yard, three-touchdown effort.
Tight end Theo Johnson registered his second career multi-score game, catching a pair of third-quarter passes from Allar while totaling a team-high 66 receiving yards.
Hardy finished with 129 all-purpose yards, all on returns.
The Nittany Lion defense totaled seven sacks, including 2 1/2 by Adisa Isaac.
Taisun Phommachanh was only 6-of-14 passing for 25 yards for UMass (1-7), which managed only 26 yards in the first half.
George Johnson made two catches for 24 yards, and Kay’Ron Adams rushed for 31 on 14 carries.
The UMass defense stood tall on the first two series, including a Isaiah Rutherford forced fumble that resulted in the FBS-best first offensive turnover by Penn State all season.
However, a big special teams play got the Nittany Lions on the board as Hardy cut down the sideline for a 56-yard punt return touchdown with 4:17 left in the opening quarter.
Allar opened the second quarter with three straight completions before his 1-yard touchdown run two plays later helped Penn State cap an eight-play, 71-yard drive and double its lead.
After sacking Phommachanh twice on the ensuing series, the hosts drove 80 yards on seven plays and scored on Kaytron Allen’s 9-yard run with 6:20 left before halftime.
The Nittany Lions got great field position at the 35-yard line on their final drive of the opening half, and Allar’s 7-yard pass to Tyler Warren with 1:01 left made it 28-0.
The onslaught continued after intermission as Penn State’s first two touchdowns of the second half resulted in a connection between Allar and Johnson. The first was an 30-yard strike.
Hardy one-upped himself with a 68-yard punt return score with 3:57 left in the third.
A strong rushing attack added to the Penn State lead in the fourth. After a Keaton Ellis interception, Trey Potts’ 2-yard touchdown capped a four-play drive to open the quarter.
Relieving Allar, Beau Pribula broke free for a 31-yard score on the quarterback keeper with 8:28 left.
–Field Level Media