Nittany Lions Shut Out Kent State 34-0 In The Rain
It was a rainy afternoon at Beaver Stadium. Neither team managed to get the pass game going as Christian Hackenberg had his worst game as a Penn Stater. The run game was a different story. Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton, and Akeel Lynch combined for 287 yards in the game on 42 carries for a 6.8 yards per carry average. Zwinak scored three short goal-line touchdowns and Belton caught a ball from Hackenberg that led to a score in a game that Penn State won 34-0, the first shutout for the Nittany Lions since 2010 against Kent State.
Penn State started with the ball but failed to do anything with the offense’s first possession of the game and had to punt it away. The defense fended off Kent State, allowing one first down before holding them to a 31-yard field goal attempt. Fortunately for the Nittany Lions, the kick sailed wide right, keeping the game scoreless.
The Penn State offense stalled again on the second drive, but Hackenberg punted the ball to the 7-yard line, which was quite impressive. The kid is a jack-of-all-trades. The defense held strong and the offense quickly got to work on the next drive. Hackenberg hit Kyle Carter for a 29-yard gain.
Belton ran for five yards on the next play and Allen Robinson hauled in an 18-yard reception after that. On a 3rd-and-goal from the 15-yard line, Hackenberg found Belton, his dump-off option, who darted down the left sideline for a touchdown to put the Nittany Lions on the scoreboard first. Hackenberg had a strong first quarter, completing 7-of-10 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown, but it was pretty much all downhill from there for the true freshman quarterback.
Penn State was able to put together another strong drive soon after. A great run from Belton got the Nittany Lions down to the 27-yard line and a facemask penalty on the run moved them forward another 15 yards. Zwinak scored on a two-yard run up the middle a few plays later to make it 14-0 early in the second quarter.
Penn State didn’t strike again until late in the third quarter. Starting from midfield, the offense quickly moved 19 yards on three Belton runs. A Hackenberg keeper on a short fourth down kept the drive alive and allowed Belton to run 11 yards for what was called a touchdown. Upon review, he was ruled down on the 1-yard line, but Zwinak got the job done on the next play to make it 21-0. A Sam Ficken field goal early in the fourth quarter made it 24-0.
The Nittany Lions continued to pile on in the fourth quarter. On the offense’s next drive, starting from the 17-yard line, Lynch broke off for runs of 26, 5, 3, 5, 2, and 4 yards. An Adam Breneman 27-yard reception in the middle of those runs got the offense to Kent State’s 11-yard line. The offense eventually faced a 4th-and-3 from the Kent State 4-yard line and Zwinak convtered. He got the ball again on the next for his third touchdown of the game.
The Nittany Lions led 31-0 late in the fourth quarter after that score, but it wasn’t over there. Bill O’Brien put Ficken out onto the field after a stalled drive to attempt a 54-yard field goal. It had the accuracy and it just barely had the length, clearing the post by mere inches. But it was good and it was the longest Penn State field goal since 1979. Penn State led 34-0 at that point and that was the final.
Penn State managed 463 yards of offense while holding the Golden Flashes to just 190 yards. The defense had a strong performance after a disappointing one last week. Hackenberg was just 13-for-35 with 176 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in the game. Lynch led the running backs with 14 carries for 123 yards. Zwinak added 65 yards on 15 carries with three scores. Robinson didn’t catch a pass in the second half, but he still led the receivers with three receptions for 43 yards.