Cueto dazzles in season debut, Giants beat Pirates 5-4
By JANIE McCAULEY AP Baseball Writer
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Cap on backward, Johnny Cueto punctuated his pitches with confident head shakes and fist pumps.
“Dia De Cueto,” read the sign held by one of his sons.
The Day of Cueto, indeed.
Cueto dazzled over five shutout innings in his long-awaited season debut for San Francisco, showing he can reach top form again 13 months after Tommy John surgery while leading the Giants over the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 on Tuesday night.
“Like it was opening day,” he said.
The charismatic right-hander, far fitter and stronger than before he got hurt, allowed one hit, struck out four and walked one. He had been scheduled to throw about 70 pitches and wound up at 69.
Stephen Vogt hit a two-run homer and drove in four runs. His two-run single in the first off rookie Mitch Keller (1-4) staked Cueto to a quick lead and Brandon Crawford added an RBI single as four of the first five batters got hits.
“That was a special night for Johnny, just so much hard work and coming back from so much,” said Vogt, who caught Cueto’s comeback outing. “Getting to be a small part of that with him was pretty special for me. It’s been a long road for him to come back. He was just so happy today — before the game, during the game, after the game you could just tell he was having fun.”
Cueto went 1-2-3 in the first on 11 pitches with a strikeout and two groundouts before turning his cap around just for fun and pumping his fists.
He punched his hand into his glove in celebration, chomping his gum all the while.
“That’s my game, every time I pitch just try to have fun,” he said.
Cueto, who pitched his first 7 1/2 seasons with Cincinnati, is 21-4 with a 2.13 ERA over 31 career regular-season starts against the Pirates. He has won nine straight decisions, not including playoffs, facing Pittsburgh since his last loss on May 30, 2012.
Cueto drew cheers from the small number of fans in the ballpark when he took the field to warm up some 30 minutes before first pitch, then received a rousing ovation during pregame introductions.
The 33-year-old Cueto pitched in the big leagues for the first time since July 28 last year. He came back in better shape than before thanks in large part to a healthier diet that included fish and salads.
Cueto won 18 games for San Francisco in 2016 and started the All-Star game that year while dealing with the discomfort he referred to as stabbing pain in the pitching elbow for three years . He’s in the fourth season of a $130 million, six-year contract he signed before the 2016 season.
“It’s easy when you’re in a situation like Johnny’s, you can be comfortable. You’re set for life but he wants to get back and compete, and compete at the highest level. He’s taken such great care of himself and worked hard to get to this point,” manager Bruce Bochy said before the game.
Shaun Anderson earned his first save as the Giants won at home for only the sixth time in their last 18 games. Keller had left his start last Tuesday against the Marlins after taking a line drive off the wrist on his pitching hand in the second inning.
Plate umpire Paul Emmel was replaced in the top of the sixth by second base umpire Mike Estabrook. Emmel took a pitch from Keller off his right hand.
Pirates: RHP Kyle Crick required season-ending surgery on the index finger of his pitching hand resulting from an injury sustained in a clubhouse altercation with fellow reliever Felipe Vázquez before Monday’s game, and the Pirates held a team meeting Tuesday. “One of those clubhouse altercations. A lot of bickering back and forth. Punches were thrown,” Crick said. “You kind of have to at some point stand up for yourself and start throwing back. It’s one of those deals where it’s unfortunate. It’s two losers in this deal. Nobody can win fighting a teammate. It’s just an unfortunate deal.” Both players were fined an undisclosed amount. Crick underwent a procedure Tuesday to repair the extensor tendon, performed by Dr. Scott Hanson in San Francisco. The club expects him to be ready for games come spring training. “The behavior exhibited by these two players last night is unacceptable, inconsistent with the standards expected of a major league player and will not be tolerated by the organization,” general manager Neal Huntington said. No other details of what happened were provided. … CF Starling Marte was out of the lineup for a second straight game nursing a tender left wrist that he sprained catching a flyball Sunday against St. Louis. Manager Clint Hurdle said he could be available to pinch-run but of batting said, “We’re going to work on the hitting part of it.”
Giants: Closer Will Smith is dealing with back inflammation and it’s unclear when he will pitch again. “We’re trying to get him back to where he’s comfortable throwing off the mound. He’s not quite there yet,” Bochy said. … OF Alex Dickerson missed his seventh straight game with a right oblique injury but the hope is he will return this weekend against Miami. He was scheduled to do more hitting off a tee. “If he can take a swing without making a grimace I’ll put him in there,” Bochy said. … LHP Williams Jerez designated for assignment as the Giants cleared 40-man roster room for Cueto’s return.
RHP Dario Agrazal (4-4, 4.94 ERA) faces the Giants for the first time pitching opposite RHP Logan Webb (1-1, 6.50), making his fifth major league start.
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Reynolds delivers vs former team, Pirates rally past SF 6-4
By GIDEON RUBIN Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Bryan Reynolds finally made it to San Francisco, and he delivered.
Reynolds hit a go-ahead single against his former team during a four-run rally in the ninth inning that sent the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 6-4 win over the Giants on Monday night.
Down 4-2, the Pirates used three pinch-hitters and came back against three Giants relievers in the ninth.
Kevin Newman hit a tying, two-run single with one out and Reynolds, a fellow rookie, followed with an RBI single off Jandel Gustave.
Reynolds also had a double and is batting .328. The Giants drafted him in the second round in 2016 before trading him to Pittsburgh after the 2018 season in a deal for Andrew McCutchen.
“It’s pretty funny how that all worked out,” Reynolds said. “It was fun to get out there and play. It’s cold, but I have my sleeves.”
José Osuna added a sacrifice fly in the ninth for insurance.
“Our team’s been fun to watch and hard to watch sometimes because we can break your heart and we can make you jump up and down,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “This isn’t the first time we’ve done this.”
Fernando Abad (0-2) gave up two hits and a walk while getting only one out.
The Giants were without All-Star closer Will Smith, shut down after experiencing some tightness throwing earlier in the day, manager Bruce Bochy said.
The Giants were 55-0 when leading after eight innings going into Monday.
“We took advantage of the men they put at the mound,” Hurdle said. “From a professional standpoint, we handled our at bats, we made contact, we drove in runs and we won the game.”
Richard Rodríguez (4-5) pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Felipe Vázquez worked the ninth for his 26th save in 29 chances.
Brandon Belt had three hits, including a two-run double for San Francisco. The Giants lost at home for the seventh time in eight games and fell to nine games below .500 at Oracle Park.
The announced attendance of 26,826 was the smallest at Oracle Park since April 12, 2010.
Belt’s’ two-out, two-run double in the fifth broke a 1-1 tie.
Giants starter Madison Bumgarner gave up two runs on six hits and two walks in seven innings.
“Too bad we couldn’t hold on to give him a win,” Bochy said. “You look at his body of work; he’s been a savior. You have to those guys in charge. Guys who give you innings like that are invaluable — not just innings but quality innings.”
Jacob Stallings homered for the Pirates.
The Giants took a 1-0 lead in the first when Evan Longoria singled in Mike Yastrzemski.
Giants catcher Buster Posey recorded his first career sacrifice bunt when he advanced Yastrzemski in the bottom of the first after 4,539 career at-bats.
Reynolds’ 35th double tied Hall of Famer Paul “Big Poison” Waner (1926) for the Pirates’ rookie record. . Giants center fielder Kevin Pillar took extra bases away from Osuna with a leaping catch against the wall with one out in the fourth. … Newman hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games, batting .429 (24-for-56) three homers and 13 RBI over that stretch.
Pirates: OF Starling Marte was out of the lineup with a left wrist sprain he suffered making a diving catch in Sunday’s game against St. Louis. Manager Clint Hurdle said his status is day-to-day.
Giants: RHP Reyes Moronta will undergo surgery on Tuesday to repair his injured labrum and capsule, manager Bruce Bochy said. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles. . LHP Tony Watson underwent an MRI on Monday that showed a hairline fracture on his left wrist. Watson suffered the injury making a diving tag play in St. Louis on Sept. 5. He’ll be reevaluated after wearing a splint for 10 days, Bochy said.
Pirates: RHP Mitch Keller (1-3, 8.18) left his last start on Sept. 4 in the second inning with a right wrist contusion after being struck by a line drive.
Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto (season debut) will make his first start since undergoing Tommy John reconstructive surgery. The two-time All-Star hasn’t pitched in a major league game since July 28, 2018.
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Flaherty dazzles again, Cardinals drop Pirates 2-0
By WILL GRAVES AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Jack Flaherty always had the tools. Figuring out how to put them together has been the challenge for the 23-year-old pitcher since the former first-round pick arrived in St. Louis two years ago.
While Flaherty is sketchy on specifics about what what exactly he changed heading into the All-Star break, one thing is for certain: the roadblocks — mental, physical and otherwise — are all gone. Flaherty is rolling, and so are the Cardinals.
Flaherty overwhelmed the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 2-0 victory on Sunday, striking out 10 against five hits and a walk over eight electric innings to keep up a dazzling run that has turned him into the de facto ace for the NL Central leaders. Flaherty (10-7) won for the sixth time in eight starts while dropping his post All-Star break ERA to 0.76 as St. Louis pushed its lead in the division to 4 1/2 games over second-place Chicago with three weeks to go in the regular season.
“He’s in control of the conviction of what he’s doing,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “Just a lot of big league pitches consistently. Fastball where he wants it to with good life on it, and a really good slider as well. That’s what pitching looks like. Phenomenal job.”
Flaherty’s surge began with seven innings of two-hit ball against San Francisco on July 7. The Cardinals lost 1-0 that day, but the switch flipped. Flaherty has been lights out while fueling St. Louis’ sprint to first and has allowed just three earned runs 56 innings across eight starts since Aug. 1.
“(I’ve made) small adjustments, not really to my mechanics, but mentally to how I was going about things,” Flaherty said. “So little things here and there. Just tried to kind of carry it from one start to the next.”
Carlos Martinez worked a perfect ninth for his 19th save to finish off a season series dominated by the Cardinals. St. Louis won 14 of its 19 meetings with Pittsburgh, including 10 of 12 in the second half, one of the main reasons the Cardinals are heading to October while the Pirates are planning for next season.
“Guys are healthy,” Flaherty said. “We’re playing together. Playing as a team. Not letting any moment get too big.”
Paul Goldschmidt had an RBI double , and Harrison Bader added a run-scoring single off Pittsburgh rookie James Marvel (0-1). Matt Carpenter went 2 for 3 while starting at third base and is hitting .400 (6 for 15) in September as the veteran tries to shake out of a season-long slump.
“Like everybody else, he understands it’s about the team,” Shildt said of Carpenter. “He’s got his head in the right spot to help us win baseball games.”
Flaherty’s effectiveness ended Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle and second baseman Adam Frazier’s respective days a little bit early. Both were ejected by home-plate umpire Roberto Ortiz in the seventh for arguing balls and strikes after Ortiz ruled a pair of borderline pitches in favor of Flaherty.
“He’s taken it to another level,” Hurdle said of Flaherty. ” He was as advertised from what we watched coming in here. It’s been going on for two months.”
Marvel, the 1,087th player chosen in the 2015 draft, was solid in his first major-league start after piling up 16 victories across Double-A and Triple-A this season. With more than 40 people in the stands who roared every time he stepped out of the dugout onto the field at PNC Park, Marvel gave up two runs and four hits in five-plus innings with two walks and two strikeouts.
“I can’t really hear things when I’m pitching,” Marvel said. “I tend to zone out and focus on what I’m doing and the glove. But I’d be lying if I said that today there weren’t a few instances where I heard them.”
There was plenty to cheer about. Marvel, who won 16 games combined during stops at Double-A and Triple-A this summer, didn’t allow a hit until Marcell Ozuna’s two-out single in the fourth. Bader’s flare to center in the fifth scored Carpenter to put the Cardinals in front and Goldschmidt hit an opposite-field double following a lead-off walk to Kolten Wong in the sixth. Otherwise, Marvel was efficient and rarely rattled.
“A very good first impression,” Hurdle said.
Marvel will get a chance at a second, third and fourth.
Cardinals: C Matt Wieters was unavailable on Sunday. Manager Mike Shildt declined to provide specifics. Wieters is expected to be available on Tuesday in Colorado.
Pirates: CF Starling Marte sprained his left wrist while making a catch in the ninth inning. The team pinch-hit for Marte in the ninth. … OF Jason Martin was moved to the 60-day injured list with a dislocated left shoulder. … RHP Yefry Ramirez (right calf strain) was activated off the 10-day IL.
Cardinals: Start a three-game set in Colorado on Tuesday with Michael Wacha (6-6, 4.98 ERA) on the hill.
Pirates: Begin a seven-game road trip on Monday in San Francisco. Trevor Williams (7-6, 5.16 ERA) starts against Madison Bumgarner (9-8, 3.81).
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Pickett throws for 321 yards, Pitt clamps down on Ohio 20-10
By WILL GRAVES AP Sports Writer
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett deleted most of his social media accounts before the season as a way to help him stay focused amid all the noise. So he didn’t know and didn’t particularly care about the reaction to his uneven performance in an opening loss to Virginia.
Instead, Pickett kept doing what he’s done since the moment he arrived on campus more than 2½ years ago: he kept grinding, confident the protection issues in front of him and the accuracy issues that plagued him against the Cavaliers would work themselves out. For the most part in an orderly 20-10 win over Ohio on Saturday, they did.
Working behind a line that appeared to improve by the snap, Pickett passed for a career-high 321 yards, including a 74-yard touchdown to Maurice Ffrench that gave Pitt (1-1) an early 10-point lead it never came close to squandering. A week after hitting on barely half of his 41 attempts while getting sacked four times, Pickett hit on 26 of 37 passes and was taken down just once.
“I just think we executed better all around, not just me,” Pickett said. “The offensive line blocked great. Receivers got open. Everything was just clicking.”
Ffrench finished with 10 receptions for 138 yards, both career bests. A.J. Davis ran for 89 yards for Pitt and Vincent Davis added 50 on the ground, including his first career touchdown that put the Panthers up 17-0 midway through the second quarter. That was more than enough cushion for a defense that kept the Bobcats (1-1) in check. Defensive tackle Jaylen Twyman finished with three of Pitt’s six sacks as the Panthers never let Ohio quarterback Nathan Rourke get going.
Dealing with the after effects of a fever that left him at less than 100%, Rourke hit on 15 of 27 passes for 177 yards and couldn’t make anything happen with his legs. Rourke, who ran for 75 yards in Ohio’s season opener against Rhode Island, finished with minus-43 yards on the ground. The Bobcats punted 10 times, finished with just 12 first downs and produced 212 total yards.
“It was a very, very frustrating game for all of us,” Ohio coach Frank Solich said. “When something like this happens to you, all you can do is go back to work.”
Ohio’s only real push came late in the third quarter when De’Montre Tuggle’s 7-yard touchdown run drew the Bobcats within 10. Ohio would get no closer. The Bobcats managed just one first down over their final three drives and Pitt’s size advantage up front wore Ohio down. The Panthers took over at the Pitt 7 with 7:05 remaining and never let the Bobcats get the ball back, bleeding the clock behind an offensive line that pushed Ohio around until the clock hit zero.
Ohio: The Bobcats might be the preseason favorites in the MAC but the secondary could be an issue. Ohio let FCS-level Rhode Island pile up 291 yards through the air in Week 1 and again looked shaky.
Pitt: Even without starting linemen Rashad Weaver and Keyshon Camp — both of whom are out for the season with knee injuries — the defense could still be dangerous. Ohio struggled to generate any rhythm with Rourke under duress most of the day. Twyman’s three sacks were the most by a Panther defensive tackle since current Los Angeles Rams star Aaron Donald did it against Utah in 2011.
While Pickett tuned out the criticism after Week 1, Pitt center Jimmy Morrissey did not. The senior felt his teammate shouldered entirely too much of the blame.
“We gave up 14 pressures as an offensive line,” Morrissey said. “When you get hit 14 times, I don’t blame him for wanting to scramble. He’s getting hit that many times, what quarterback in the country has to be confident in their o-line after that performance? It was more on us. We should have got more heat than he did.”
READY TO RUN
The Panthers ran for 160 yards on 37 attempts. Three players — A.J. Davis, Vincent Davis and V’Lique Carter — all had at least six carries. Pitt head coach Pat Narduzzi will continue to spread it around for the time being.
“We’re going to play the hot guy,” Narduzzi said. “It’ll be that way until we find out who ‘The Dude’ is.”
Ohio: The Bobcats travel to Marshall next Saturday, the return of the “Battle for the Bell.” Ohio leads the all-time series 33-20, including a victory in 2015 in the last game between the two schools.
Pitt: Visits 15th-ranked Penn State next Saturday in the final game of a four-game renewal of the in-state rivalry. The Nittany Lions have won the last two meetings by a combined 84-20.
“I don’t like them one bit,” Morrissey said of the Nittany Lions. “That’s pretty obvious. I play for Pitt.”
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Kentucky State grinds out 13-7 victory over Robert Morris
MOON, Pa. (AP) — Israel Fields scored on his first career carry, Jaylen Myers threw for another score and Kentucky State defeated Robert Morris 13-7 on Saturday.
Fields’ 3-yard touchdown run with 4:47 remaining in the third quarter gave the Thorobreds (1-0) their first lead and Kentucky State’s defense took it from there, holding Robert Morris (0-2) to 20 yards in the fourth quarter.
Myers, a redshirt sophomore, hit Brett Sylve on a 4-yard TD pass with 11 seconds left in the second quarter. After the extra point was no good Robert Morris held a 7-6 halftime lead on the strength of Teren Stephens’ 1-yard TD run in the first quarter.
Neither defense allowed 300 yards. Kentucky State relied on its running game, rushing 51 times for 214 yards. Myers was 4-of-10 passing for 70 yards. Sylve was the game’s leading rusher with 20 carries for 87 yards.
Stephens led the Colonials with 69 yards rushing and George Martin completed 7 of 16 passes for 70 yards.
Hines, Parr lead Duquesne in 44-3 rout of D-II Walsh
PITTSBURGH (AP) — A.J. Hines and Daniel Parr each accounted for a pair of touchdowns and Duquesne beat Division II member Walsh 44-3 on Saturday in the season opener for both teams.
Duquesne, which won its fifth Northeast Conference title and advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs for the first time in program history last season, forced three Walsh turnovers and held the Cavaliers to just 73 yards of offense.
Hines had 102 yards rushing on 12 carries that included scoring runs of six and 57 yards. Parr was 13-of-21 passing for 173 yards. He tossed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Dominic Thieman and a 62-yarder to Davie Henderson.
Chad Mirolo kicked a 27-yard field goal for Walsh late in the third quarter.
Duquesne won its 12th-straight home opener in the first meeting between the schools.
Ozuna leads Wainwright, Cardinals over Pirates 10-1
By WES CROSBY Associated Press
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Marcell Ozuna knew he found something in the first inning. He battled for eight pitches before getting ahold of a fastball, only to see it fly right to Pirates left fielder Bryan Reynolds.
The next time up, Ozuna put it all together. He hit a three-run homer to break out of his slump, and Adam Wainwright pitched seven strong innings, to help the St. Louis Cardinals extend their lead atop the NL Central with a 10-1 win over Pittsburgh on Saturday night.
“I was ready to swing,” Ozuna said. “I was ready to battle. (We had runners on) first and second. (Paul Goldschmidt) had flied out. Let me go after one. A couple games, I don’t drive in any runs. That one swing in the first at-bat, I said, ‘I think I got it.'”
The Cardinals are 3 ½ games ahead of the Cubs for first in the Central with Chicago’s 3-2 loss to Milwaukee.
After Dexter Fowler opened the scoring with an RBI single earlier in the third inning, Ozuna connected against Steven Brault (4-4) for his 26th home run of the season and a 4-0 lead. The cleanup hitter also walked twice after having two hits in his previous 35 at-bats.
Wainwright (11-9) helped himself, and the Cardinals wearing their baby blue uniforms, with a double and single while lasting seven innings for the second straight start. He gave up one run and six hits.
“Today was about bucking the trend and personal challenges,” Wainwright said. “They say the Cardinals don’t win in the baby blues. They say Waino doesn’t pitch well in Pittsburgh. So perfect. Those were the two thoughts I went into the game with trying to prove that wrong.”
Starling Marte drove in the Pirates’ run with a single in the third. He had three RBIs and four hits, including a first-inning triple Saturday, in seven at-bats in two games since missing the previous two with a leg injury.
Tommy Edman and Harrison Bader chased Brault with a pair of RBI singles that extended the lead to 6-1 in the sixth. Brault allowed six runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings with two walks, a balk, a wild pitch and a hit batter.
“Below average command today was his biggest problem,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “He had eight three-ball counts on the day. … Not a lot of swing and miss. He’s had more in the past with two walks and two strikeouts. He went out there fighting. He just wasn’t sharp.”
Brault hadn’t given up more than four runs in 15 appearances — 13 starts — since May 12, when St. Louis also tagged him for six in 3 2/3 innings before losing 10-6.
“The way I was taught is that if you have 30 starts a year, you’re going to have four starts where you feel incredible, four starts where you feel terrible, and then 22 starts where you’ll be somewhere in the middle,” Brault said. “Tonight was somewhere in the middle, but near the bad side. Three-run home runs are day-killers, so keep the ball out of the stands and it’ll be a different ballgame.”
Paul DeJong tacked on two more runs with a double off Clay Holmes, making it 8-1 in the seventh. Bader hit an RBI double in the ninth before Andrew Knizner scored on a groundball to cap it.
“We show up ready to go every night,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “Get better as the series goes. … Guys just had tough at-bats, and just added on.”
KEEP IT GOING
Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a single to center in the ninth inning. His career best string is 16 games.
Pirates: RHP Mitch Keller is expected to rejoin the starting rotation Tuesday after sustaining a right wrist contusion Sept. 3. He was originally in line to start Sunday.
Cardinals: RHP Jack Flaherty (9-7, 3.14) is coming off his best outing of the season. He allowed one hit with eight strikeouts in eight innings of a 1-0 win against San Francisco on Sept. 3.
Pirates: RHP James Marvel (0-0) will make his major league debut Sunday. He was 7-0 with a 2.67 ERA in 11 starts for Triple-A Indianapolis this season.
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Clifford’s 4 TDs lead No. 15 Penn State over Buffalo 45-13
By TRAVIS JOHNSON Associated Press
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Sean Clifford turned in an all-around performance in another lopsided win for Penn State.
Clifford threw for 280 yards and four touchdowns and ran 11 times for 51 to lead the No. 15 Nittany Lions back from a halftime deficit to beat Buffalo 45-13 on Saturday night.
“Sean’s able to make plays with his mind, he’s able to make plays with his arm and tonight he made plays with his feet as well,” coach James Franklin said.
Clifford, the Lions’ first-year starter, opened the scoring with a 28-yard pass to Jahan Dotson on Penn State’s second drive. He tossed a pair of TDs to tight end Pat Freiermuth in the third quarter after cornerback John Reid’s 37-yard interception return put Penn State up for good.
Noah Cain added a 2-yard TD run to give Penn State’s a 35-13 lead heading into the fourth.
“We weren’t executing in the first half,” Clifford said. “I take the blame for that. We pulled together and talked through some things and got it going in the second.”
The Nittany Lions (2-0) trailed 10-7 at half after the Bulls (1-1) had dominated time of possession to that point.
Quarterback Matt Myers hooked up with tight end Julien Bourassa for a 5-yard score late in the second quarter. Alex McNulty kicked a pair of field goals for the Bulls.
“They played really hard, competed really well for the first 30 minutes,” Buffalo coach Lance Leipold said. “Came out in the second half and, obviously, a big switch in momentum.”
Jaret Patterson led Buffalo (1-1) with 75 yards on 23 carries while Myers finished 16 for 31 for 236 yards.
Franklin called Reid’s interception the turning point in the game. Players along Penn State’s sideline erupted when the fifth-year senior stepped in front of Antonio Nunn’s route, snagged Myers’ underthrown pass and sprinted untouched down the sideline.
It was the second straight game with an interception for Reid who’s just over two years removed from a serious knee injury that cost him all of 2017.
“It was huge,” Clifford said. “For us, on offense, we feed off that energy. The crowd gets back into it.”
RETURN TO FORM
Freiermuth, arguably Penn State’s most dangerous red zone target, finished with eight catches for 99 yards a week after he was knocked out of the game against Idaho with an apparent head injury.
Freiermuth, who led the team with eight touchdown catches last year, missed some practice time this week to heal up.
Buffalo punter Evan Finegan was carted off after suffering what appeared to be a serious right leg injury following a partially blocked punt in the third quarter. Reserve quarterback Kyle Vantrease handled punting duties the rest of the way.
Buffalo: The daunting environment didn’t seem to bother the young Bulls. They controlled the pace in the first half, running 46 plays for 27 yards to Penn State’s 20 plays and 82 yards.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions’ strength is their defensive line and Buffalo’s offensive front did a good job neutralizing Yetur Gross-Matos and his teammates for most of the first half. In the meantime, Clifford and his receivers were able to create some chemistry.
Penn State cleaned up its mistakes at halftime, won going away and shouldn’t be penalized for its slow start.
Buffalo plays at Liberty Saturday.
Penn State hosts Pittsburgh Saturday.
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