Penn State came out on fire in this one, clearly wanting to make up for the road loss at Minnesota last week. The Nittany Lions dominated the first half and lead 28-14 at halftime. Penn State has taken advantage of the lowly Purdue Boilermakers on both sides of the ball en route to the halftime lead. The Nittany Lions put up 265 total yards of offense.
Purdue entered the matchup as the worst rush defense in the Big Ten Conference, allowing 239.6 yards a game on the ground. Head coach Bill O’Brien obviously knew that statistic and took full advantage.
Penn State rushed for 86 yards in the first quarter alone behind Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton. The Nittany Lions finished the half with 182 yards on the ground. Belton led the way with 77 yards and a touchdown. Zwinak added 75 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Akeel Lynch, who hasn’t carried the ball since October 26th at Ohio State, saw four carries for 19 yards in the half.
Belton fumbled in the second quarter and didn’t get back in until right before the half ended. It was his third fumble in the last three games.
Quarterback Christian Hackenberg wasn’t asked to do much, as the half was controlled by the run game. He did complete nine of 12 passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown pass was caught by tight end Adam Breneman for the first touchdown of his Penn State career.
On defense things were a lot better than in recent weeks. Purdue was held to just 88 total yards, with jut one yard coming on the ground. The Nittany Lions recorded two sacks and Jordan Lucas had a big interception in the half. Other than a second-quarter drive where the defense allowed Purdue to drive down the field and score, the unit kept the Boilermakers from doing any damage. Adrian Amos led the team in tackles with four, including a sack.
Purdue made the score more manageable late in the half when Raheem Mostert retuned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.
Penn State will kick off to start the second half, giving the defense a chance to continue its strong play against the Boilermakers.
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