Though the start wasn’t great, the Penn State Nittany Lions will take it. Penn State defeated Eastern Michigan to move to 2-0 on the season. The offense was inconsistent at times, but really came alive in the second half. Freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg had a huge game that helped lead the team to victory.
Hackenberg looked a big uncomfortable at first, committing a first-quarter turnover deep in Eastern Michigan territory. Hunter Matt of the Eagles picked up the loose ball and ran 11 yards to the endzone to put Eastern Michigan on top early. Fortunately, Hackenberg and the rest of the team settled down and went on to put the Eagles away without any trouble.
After going down by seven in the first quarter, Penn State responded by scoring on its next possession. Hackenberg connected on a 43-yard pass to Allen Robinson to set up a short touchdown run by Zach Zwinak. The Nittany Lions came right back on their next possession, going up 14-7 on a five-yard touchdown run by Bill Belton.
Sam Ficken connected on a 39-yard field goal late in the second quarter to put Penn State up 17-7 at the half. The kick was Ficken’s 14th field goal in a row, a new school record.
In the second half, Penn State took over the game, especially on defense. The Nittany Lions did not allow any points the entire game and held the Eagles to just 183 total yards. Senior linebacker Glenn Carson led the defense with 10 tackles. Fellow senior DaQuan Jones added nine tackles.
Hackenberg ended up having a marvelous game, setting a Penn State freshman record for passing yards in a game. He finished with 311 yards and a touchdown. He definitely looked in control of the offense and showed why he was such a highly sought-after recruit.
Bill Belton showcased his talents running the ball, as he set a career single game high with 108 rushing yards. He also scored twice. redshirt freshman Akeel Lynch, who was talked highly about during the spring, ran for 108 yards on 13 carries and also added a score.
Overall, it was a great showing for the Nittany Lions in front of an appreciative Beaver Stadium Crowd.
The Nittany Lions will look to keep it rolling next week when they host Central Florida.