Allen Robinson sat out the first half of today’s season opener versus Syracuse in what was called a “coaches decision”. It took 2 offensive snaps in the second half for Robinson to make his mark, taking a screen for 25 yards, before Christian Hackenberg connected with him on a 51 yard pass that put the Lions up 13-3. Despite some nervy late game moments, the Lions held on for a 23-17 win to open the season.
Hackenberg got the start, as expected, and certainly looked the part of the 5-star recruit, and true freshman at different points of the game. PSU came out with the high tempo “NASCAR” offense, and while the drive eventually stalled just past midfield, Hackenberg looked very calm both then, and throughout the game. The high point of his outing came early in the 4th quarter, firing a 54 yard strike to redshirt freshman receiver Geno Lewis that put the Lions up 23-10. All told, he finished his first collegiate game 22/31 with 273 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions.
The second of those interceptions put the Lions in a tough spot late. On a 3rd down play with just over 7 minutes left, the Orange brought a zone pressure, and Hackenberg threw right to DE Robert Welsh, who returned the ball all the way to the PSU 1, setting up a Jerome Smith touchdown run. That score pulled Syracuse to 23-17.
Penn State had two chances after that to put the game away, but was not able to convert a first down on either chance, both times punting back to Syracuse. After the 2nd punt, former receiver turned CB Trevor Williams picked off Allen on a 3rd and 10 pass to end the game.
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