Much like last week, it was a slow start for Penn State. In front of the Beaver Stadium crowd for the first time this season, the Nittany Lions seemed a bit sluggish at the start. However, they woke up and now have a 17-7 lead at halftime.
-Eastern Michigan actually got on the board first when Christian Hackenberg fumbled deep in his own territory. The ball was picked up by Hunter Matt of the Eagles and returned 11 yards for a touchdown.
– Allowing the first touchdown seemed to wake the Nittany Lions up, as they scored on back-to-back drives. Zach Zwinak had a touchdown run and Bill Belton followed that up with a five-yard scoring scamper of his own. Belton led the Lions in rushing, putting up 44 yards. He also added a 21-yard reception.
– After starting slow, Hackenberg really settled down and showed flashes of why he is starting as a true freshman. He got the scoring going with a beautiful 43-yard pass to Allen Robinson to set up the first touchdown. He did have a big mistake in the second quarter though, trying to force a pass to Brandon Moseby-Felder that was picked off deep in Eastern Michigan territory. Hackenberg finished the first half 15 of 22 for 207 yards and an interception.
– The Penn State defense in the first half could be described by the old term “bend but don’t break.” The Nittany Lions struggled to get stops on third downs and allowed the Eagles to move down the field. However, missed field goals, a sack and a big play by Jordan Lucas on an EMU field goal attempt ended any scoring chances. The defense did not allow any points in the first half.
– Kicker Sam Ficken, who had a terrible start last season, has made a great comeback. With his 39-yard field goal in the second quarter, he set a school record with 14 consecutive made field goals, dating back to last season.
Look for the Nittany Lions to really step it up in the second half and take over the game.