This primetime matchup of two undefeated teams turned out to a great game. Trailing for much of the game, the Penn State Nittany Lions fell short despite a furious second-half comeback.
Central Florida jumped out to a quick lead in the first half and led 21-10 at halftime behind the running of Storm Johnson and passing of quarterback Blake Bortles. The Knights put up 289 yards of total offense in the first half, including 169 on the ground. They finished the game with 507 total yards. Bortles threw for 288 yards and three touchdown. Johnson led the rushing attack with 117 yards.
Penn State could never gain its footing in this one. Every time the offense would score, Central Florida would march right down the field with an answer of its own. The Knights dominated the game from start to finish. The Nittany Lions were let down by the defense, which looked solid over the first two weeks of the year. Against UCF, Penn State missed several tackles and had a huge fourth-quarter pass interference call that continued a UCF drive.
Offensively, the Nittany Lions did have good numbers, but it was not enough. Christian Hackenberg finished with 240 yards, but failed to throw a touchdown pass. Zach Zwinak led the rushing attack, carrying the ball 21 times for 128 yards and set a career-high with three touchdowns in the game. However, he had a costly fumble late in the fourth in UCF territory that ended a Penn State comeback attempt.
Penn State did get a shot late when Central Florida botched a punt attempt and put the Nittany Lions in great field position. They quickly capitalized with a beautiful pass from Hackenberg to Allen Robinson in the end zone. However, the comeback bid fell short, as the defense was unable to get a stop and get the ball back.
The Nittany Lions will look to turn things around next week when Kent State comes to town.
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