After rushing for a putrid 57 yards in Week 1 against the Syracuse Orange, Penn State found its run game on Saturday against Eastern Michigan. The Nittany Lions amassed 251 yards on the ground and had two backs go over 100 yards in the same game for the first time since 2010 when Evan Royster and Silas Redd accomplished the feat against Northwestern.
Starting running back Zach Zwinak received just 7 carries, but ran for 43 yards and two touchdowns.
Bill Belton, who began last season as the team’s starter, finally showed the skill that many have talked about. He showed both speed and elusiveness as he carved through the Eastern Michigan defense. Though he only ran nine times, Belton was able to rack up a career-high 108 yards and two touchdowns. His best run of the day came in the fourth quarter when he broke loose and sprinted 51 yards to the end zone.
Redshirt freshman Akeel Lynch, who did not receive any carries last week, got off to a slow start against Eastern Michigan. After rushing for just 14 yards through the first three quarters, he broke out in a big way during the fourth quarter. Lynch received the majority of the carries in the quarter and made the most of his opportunity. He finished the game with 108 yards and led the Nittany Lions with 13 carries. His day was capped by an 18-yard touchdown run midway through the quarter.
Saturday’s blowout victory over the Eagles was an excellent opportunity for the Nittany Lions to get more players involved in the game plan. The talk coming out of spring practice was that Penn State would have a three-pronged rushing attack with Zwinak, Belton and Lynch. If Saturday’s performance is any indication of things to come, teams are going to have to fear the Penn State rushing attack.
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