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Adisa Isaac, Penn State defense produce big plays in win over Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. — Adisa Isaac waited almost two years to sack a quarterback after he missed the 2021 season with a torn Achilles.

When it came in the third quarter of Penn State’s 41-12 thumping of Auburn on Saturday, he was overjoyed.

“Man, you don’t even know,” Isaac said when asked how it felt to drop T.J. Finley. “It felt great. It felt like everything let go. It’s something to build on. I’m glad I got that first one out of the way. There are a lot more where that came from.”

The 6-4, 249-pound Isaac played a terrific game, also registering two other tackles for loss. His last sack — actually half a sack — came on Dec. 12, 2020, against Michigan State.

As a group, the defense sacked Finley and Robby Ashford six times and forced four turnovers, interceptions by Zakee Wheatley and Ji’Ayir Brown and fumble recoveries by Chop Robinson and Jonathan Sutherland.

“We focus on that every week,” Isaac said. “We try to make every week a big game for us. We try to attack the ball and get turnovers and stop the run.”

The Nittany Lions held the Tigers to 119 rushing yards on 36 carries, a 3.3 average. Tank Bigsby, one of the better backs in the Southeastern Conference, had 39 yards on nine carries.

Penn State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz again called an aggressive game, sending blitzers from every part of the defense.

“Manny’s impact is big,” Isaac said. “He brings a lot of fire to us. He has us playing fast and physical. That helps take the stress off of us. It allows us to show the gifts that God has given us.”

Freshman linebacker Abdul Carter had a breakout game with six tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and one pass breakup.

“You’ve seen him,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “He flashes. We’ve been excited about him. He’s so mature. He’s picking up things quickly. He’s fast. He’s aggressive.”

Clifford takes a hit: Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford absorbed a violent tackle by Auburn linebacker Owen Pappoe in the first quarter, but never left the game.

Clifford scrambled for an 8-yard gain before Pappoe blindsided him and jarred the football loose. The ball squirted out of bounds before anyone recovered it.

“It’s football,” Clifford said. “They have players and that dude definitely rocked me. I saw the video, too. It looked even worse than it felt. You gotta get back up and keep fighting.”

Pappoe led Auburn with six tackles.

“Salute to him (Clifford), getting up from a hard hit like that,” Pappoe said. “He was actually about to slide, so I pulled up. I didn’t even give him all I had.”

No, thanks: Franklin said he would not like to see Penn State schedule another home-and-home series with a Southeastern Conference team like Auburn any time soon.

The Nittany Lions defeated the Tigers 28-20 last year at Beaver Stadium and then routed them Saturday.

“There’s a reason why this is like one of the only games that has been scheduled in the history of the Big Ten,” Franklin said. “All the data and all the analytics show you that you have to do whatever you can to win your conference. This is going to help us. We’re going to build on this.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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