Until Saturday, Ryan Keiser was little more than a valued backup safety for the Penn State defense.
On Saturday, he stepped out of the shadows and into the spotlight as the Nittany Lion defense pitched a shutout in Penn State’s 34-0 win over Kent State.
Keiser, a redshirt junior from Selinsgrove, made four tackles from his safety position, including a sack, intercepted the first pass of his career and made a couple tackles after long Golden Flash gains. He also broke up three passes.
“He played great. He really made a key play in the game,” said linebacker Glenn Carson. “After we (threw the interception), he gave the ball right back to the offense. That’s complementary football. Coach (Bill) O’Brien talks about stepping up and making a play and getting the offense right back on the field.”
Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who struggled in his worst performance of the season, threw an interception with around nine minutes left in the third quarter. On the very next play, Keiser picked off Kent State quarterback Colin Reardon to give the ball back to the offense.
It was the complementary football that coach Bill O’Brien harps on.
“I thought he did a heckuva job,” O’Brien said. “What a fantastic kid. He’s from Selinsgrove. A very mature guy. He’s married. He just has a great perspective on life. A great Penn State kid. I was happy to see him go out there and play well today. Just a fun guy to coach.”
Keiser asserted himself almost from the opening whistle.
With the score still tied 0-0 in the first quarter, Kent State took over on its own 7-yard-line. On second-and-nine from his own 8, Reardon hit Josh Boyle for an 18-yard gain that would have been longer if not for Keiser’s hustling tackle.
Later in the drive, Reardon hooked up with Chris Humphrey for another 18-yard gain. Again, if not for Keiser’s tackle Humphry might have rumbled a lot farther.
Finally, on third-and-12, Keiser broke up a pass intended for Humphrey that could have extended the drive. Instead, Kent State was forced to punt.
“Keiser played an extremely good game,” linebacker Stephen Obeng-Agyapong said. “He came in on a couple series and he made some impact plays. We need those down the stretch.”