Penn State Football

Noah Cain delivers, Sean Clifford deals, and more highlights from Penn State’s Blue-White Game

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford makes a pass during the Blue-White game on Saturday, April 13, 2019.
Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford makes a pass during the Blue-White game on Saturday, April 13, 2019. adrey@centredaily.com

Saturday was a perfect day for tailgating — and not a bad one for football, either.

Penn State’s annual Blue-White Game featured starters against third-stringers, a matchup the former won 24-7. But the score was of secondary importance in the scrimmage.

Saturday was an opportunity for State College’s Keaton Ellis and fellow 2019 early enrollees to make their Beaver Stadium debut. And one of them stood out especially.

Player of the game

Blue team starter Ricky Slade found the end zone and offered impressive lateral movement catching the ball out of the backfield. But the running back across the way really opened eyes. Noah Cain — a 2019 signee who arrived on campus in January — already proved he’s poised to make an impact come the fall.

Cain, a four-star back out of the IMG Academy, finished with 58 yards (45 rushing, 13 receiving) on 14 touches. The balanced back scored in the second quarter, showcased decisiveness when choosing running lanes and picked up tough yards when necessary. All the while, Cain ran behind a third-string offensive line against the likes of Jayson Oweh, PJ Mustipher and Antonio Shelton.

Slade and Journey Brown separated themselves this spring as Penn State’s top backs. But position coach Ja’Juan Seider said Cain will play in 2019 — and his performance on Saturday confirmed why.

Quarterback update

As expected, Tommy Stevens did not play Saturday. He was fully dressed and warmed up, but no sense in having the redshirt senior participate in the scrimmage when being healthy for fall camp is the top priority.

In Stevens’ absence, Sean Clifford took the Blue team’s first snaps. The up-and-comer, much like his limited appearances in 2018, threw a nice ball, completing 11-of-19 passes for 118 yards. Clifford’s statline was hurt by three early drops, but the redshirt sophomore found Nick Bowers for a 35-yard gain over the middle. He even scrambled for 31 yards, days after James Franklin commended the quarterback becoming more of a dual-threat.

Will Levis, who impressed this spring taking second-team reps, worked in behind Clifford and connected with Dan Chisena for a 59-yard touchdown. For the White squad, 2019 signees Michael Johnson and Ta’Quan Roberson introduced themselves to the Beaver Stadium patrons. Johnson completed 4-of-4 passes for 36 yards, while Roberson threw for 19 yards on 3-of-9 passing.

Throwback comeback

After a year without any jersey changes, the Nittany Lions are bringing back their “Generations of Greatness” uniforms in 2019.

Penn State announced Saturday afternoon that Franklin’s squad will wear its throwbacks against Purdue on Oct. 5, 2019. The uniforms feature numbers on the helmets, all-white Nike cleats and white trim on the sleeves.

The Nittany Lions first wore the uniforms against Indiana on Sept. 30, 2017.

Spring awards

At halftime of the Blue-White Game, Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour and the Nittany Lion mascot greeted a handful of players, who were recognized on the videoboards for their efforts throughout spring practice. Here are the award winners this camp:

  • Jim O’Hora Award (most improved on defense): Defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos
  • Red Worrell Award (most improved on offense): Offensive lineman Michal Menet
  • Coaches’ Special Teams Award: Defensive back Jonathan Sutherland
  • Total Commitment Award: Offensive lineman Will Fries, punter Blake Gillikin, running back Nick Eury
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