It’s a much different story for the Penn State Nittany Lions this week against the Illinois Fighting Illini. After being blown out 63-14 last week by Ohio State, Penn State entered this game looking to take out some frustration. Unfortunately, things haven’t gone exactly as planned. Though the lead 14-3, the Nittany Lions won’t be completely happy with the first half.
Penn State seemed to dominate the game for much of the half, but missed several opportunities and were only able to put 14 points up on the board.
Much of the talk entering this game was about how the Penn State defense would respond after a poor performance in Columbus. The fast-paced Illini offense did seem to be giving the Nittany Lions some trouble on the first drive of the game, as they were able to move down the field at will.
Fortunately, Jordan Lucas came up with a huge interception that ended any scoring threat.
After the early drives, the Nittany Lions settled into their own on defense and shut Illinois down, until the Illini put together a solid drive at the end of the half that ended with a field goal.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Nittany Lions have been able to move the ball, but have faltered near the end zone. The first quarter was the Belton and Robinson show, as no other Nittany Lion (other than Hackenberg) touched the ball.
Belton, who regained the starting running back job back this week, as made the most of his opportunity thus far. He showed a great mix of speed and power, carrying the ball 15 times for 95 yards and a touchdown. Robinson has shown why he’s one of the top receivers in the nation, catching six passes for 94 yards.
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg has looked solid so far, making good throws and good decisions. He scored in the second quarter, deciding to scramble from nine yards out when the pocket broke down around him. He avoided any interceptions, something that has plagued him recently.
He completed 10 of 14 passes for 107 yards.
Both offenses have been able to move the ball, with Illinois putting up 213 total yards and the Nittany Lions gaining 246 total yard.
Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 175 yards and ran for 18 yards in the half.
The Nittany Lions get the ball to start the second half and will look to take advantage early.
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