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Penn State wins ugly against Zips, 21-3

By Kenny Varner

UNIVERSITY PARK – After a successful start to the James Franklin era at Penn State. The Lions looked to pick up the rookie coach’s first home win to improve to a successful 2-0.

Penn State opened its home version of the season against an always stingy Akron team that plays in the highly competitive MAC conference. Both teams came into the game with records of 1-0.

It wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t pretty but the Lions were able to pull it off, dropping the Zips 21-3.

In its first game of the season, the Nittany Lions pulled off a last second win over University of Central Florida. 26-24 thanks to a last second field goal by Big 10 player of the Week Sam Ficken.

The senior kicker went a perfect 4-for-4 and was successful on extra points.

Penn State opened the game with winning the coin toss.

With the Lions deferring to the second half after winning the coin toss, the Zips were lightning quick opening with the passing game. The drive started at their own 27 but quickly got down to the PSU 17.

Defensively, the Penn State defense could not answer the call on the drive and even the ground game got into the action.

Facing a first down and goal, the Zips were in great shape to push it in from the seven.

On second down, Anthony Zettle sacked the Akron quarterback, pushing the team back to the 10.

Jordan Lucas followed in Zettled footsteps and also sacked the quarterback.

With a missed Akron field goal, the Lions dodged a bullet.

On the Lions first possession of the game Hackenberg picked up where he left off, completing his two first passes, rolling Penn State down the field.

Though the running game was still trying to make a name for itself, the running of Bill Belton was starting to dazzle the fans.

Facing a third down at midfield, Penn State’s drive stalled and forced the Lions to punt.

Defensively, the Nits came alive, pushing the Zips backward in their second possession of the game.

On third and 17, Akron was forced to punt.

Penn State got great field position, starting on its own 42 to start its second series of the game.

Hackenberg went right to Eugene Lewis on a 20-yard hook up.

After a run by Zach Zwinak, Hackenberg aired it out for a 15-yard completion.

Hackenberg finished the drive in style hitting a wide open Belton, making it 7-0 with 2:58 left in the opening period.

Penn State picked up four early sacks on quarterback Kyle Pohl.

With 1:34 still left in the opening quarter, Penn State got the ball once more to add to their lead.

Hackenberg was just warming up, hitting two more consecutive first down passes with time running out. The sophomore quarterback tallied 91-yards in the first, leading the way for the “Blue and White.”

Going into the second quarter, the Lions were still driving and was sitting on their own 48.

First play from scrimmage had Hackenberg at it again, hitting a wide open DeSean Hamilton. He followed up with a 20-yard target of Eugene Lewis, putting the Lions down to the 18-yard line of Akron.

Facing a 3-11, Hackenberg went back to the air attack and was intercepted by Martel Durante interception.

However, a defensive penalty put the Zips down at their own one to start the quarter.

After forcing the Zips to punt, the Nittany Lions got the ball back on the 23.

Akeel Lynch’s first call of the game was a 10-yard scamper, putting his team on their 33.

But the drive stalled and it was back to the Zips it went.

Midway through the second quarter, the Zips found life once again driving the ball into Penn State territory.

A pass interference call on Penn State kept the drive alive, giving the Zips a first down on the PSU 39.

However, it would be for naught as the Lions held Akron one more time from reaching the scoreboard.

Penn State had one last chance to push one in before the intermission.

With 1:48 left in the half, the Lions started its final drive of the half at their own 15.

But it fizzled on three straight Hackenberg incomplete passes.

Penn State opened the second half with the ball.

Hackenberg used his legs not his arm on the first play of the first first down of the half.

But another PSU turnover put the Zips in great field position to start their second half.

Akron threatened to score facing a first down and 10 on the Lions 15.

Penn State dodges a bullet and forces the Zips into a 28-yard field goal by Robert Stein, making it 7-3.

Despite facing on 3rd and 25, Hackenberg found a wide open Eugene Lewis, putting Penn State in striking distance setting on the Akron 41.

It wasn’t pretty but Penn State found itself with a chance of pushing another touchdown in, getting down to the 13.

With 2:38 Hackenberg found Jesse James for the 13-yard TD catch. With the Ficken PAT, Penn State ups its lead to 14-3.

Hackenberg collected 252 passing yards through the air after three complete quarters.

In the fourth, with strong runs by Lynch and Zwinak, the Nittany Lions forced Akron to take a time out with 13:49 left.

The Zips would not surrender. An interception on a deep Penn State drive, brought Akron back into the game as they marched the miscue down into the territory of the Nits.

But a strong stand by the Lions defense forced Akron to turn the ball over on downs, giving the ball back to the home team,.

With 8:58 left, Hackenberg found James once again for a 44-yard touchdown hook up, making it 21-3.

Penn State will be back in action next week when it travels to Rutgers for an 8 p.m. contest in New Jersey.


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