[Live Blog] Penn State vs. UCF

Good morning Penn State fans! The Nittany Lions open its 2014 season against the UCF Knights from Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland. Penn State is looking for revenge after last year’s 34-31 loss to the Knights. We will have updates throughout the game on this page, including game analysis, photos, and more. Here’s the media information you’ll need, and here’s our staff’s game predictions.

11:55 a.m. — What a game, Hackenberg finishes with 454 yards. Thanks for tuning in, check back to Onward State for more post-game coverage.

11:53 a.m. — Ficken on ESPN interview: “To win it for the guys, I couldn’t be happier for my teammates.”

11:52 a.m. — Career game for Ficken: 4-4 on field goals. Poor clock management on final drive but incredible execution on the field.

11:51 a.m. — WITH THREE SECONDS LEFT SAM FICKEN NAILS A 37 YARD FIELD GOAL. The clock expires and Penn State wins, 26-24!!!

11:49 a.m. — Hack to Lewis again!! Lewis drags defenders to the twenty yard line.

11:46 a.m. — Big play from Hackenberg on fourth and three as he scrambles for a first down. On the next play he shovels to Belton who picks up 14 yards, and then finds Lewis again for eight yards. 17 seconds remain from the Knights’ 37.

11:44 a.m. — Penn State will start its final drive at its own 25. A second down completion to Geno Lewis picks up eight yards. Hack again targets Lewis deep on third down, but the ball flies long. Lewis had half a step on his defender.

11:41 a.m. — An unbelievable fourth down connection down the left sideline puts UCF at the six yard line. On first and goal Holman scrambles up the middle: touchdown. 24-23, the Knights take the leave. 1:13 remaining…the Lions will only need a field goal.

11:39 a.m. — Jordan Lucas blankets his receiver on third down as Holman’s lob falls incomplete. Fourth and ten coming up…the game depends on this play.

11:37 a.m. — Holman finds Perriman down the sideline, who picks up 22 yards to Penn State’s 43. Things are getting tense in Dublin. Two incompletions bring up a third and ten with 1:53 on the clock.

11:35 a.m. — UCF starts its drive at its 25 yard line. On second down, a quick slant moves the chains. 2:42 remains, Knights now at the 35.

11:30 a.m. — On third and goal from the seven, Hackenberg tries to find Kyle Carter in the end-zone. It’s incomplete, and Ficken nails a field goal: 3-3 for Ficken on the day. 23-17 Penn State, 3:34 left in the game.

11:26 a.m. — Zwinak runs right on third and two, avoids a defender and pushes forward for the first down! Another Zwinak carry finds the Lions inside the ten. Second and goal, 3:46 remaining, UCF takes its first timeout.

11:23 a.m. — A Zwinak run and short screen bring up a third and nine from the 36. Hackenberg drops back, passes deep to Lewis. The ball is deflected, but Lewis controls the ball — an incredible catch! It’s a 41 yard reception to the Knights’ 23.

11:21 a.m. — UCF can’t do anything with possession and punts it back to Penn State. The Lions regain possession at their 35, with 8:09 remaining in the game.

11:17 a.m. — Andddd… another fumble. Chris Godwin catches a screen, quickly possess it, and loses the ball upon contact. UCF ball at their own 28. 9:07 left in the game. That’s three turnovers in four plays between the two teams for those counting.

11:15 a.m. — Holman fumbles the exchange on first down; Zettel pounces on the fumble! Penn State recovers the football! Knights elect not to review the play, and Penn State takes over inside the forty.

11:12 a.m. — Hackenberg rolls right, throws into coverage and is picked off. It’s his second pick of the game. Four defenders circled the territory to which Hack threw it; should have just lobbed it out of bounds. A costly turnover around UCF’s 40 yard line.

11:11 a.m. — After a defensive pass interference, Hamilton collects his tenth reception of the day. Lions now in Knights’ territory.

11:09 a.m. — Haley takes the kickoff to the thirty yard line. Akeel Lynch picks up seven on first down. Lions could benefit from some solid running as the fourth quarter clocks down.

11:06 a.m. — Announced attendance at Croke Park is 53,304…or about half the attendance at Beaver Stadium.

11:03 a.m. — J.J. Worton moves early for Central Florida, pushing the Knights back five yards. Another false start brings them back five more. On third and goal from the 11, Holman finds Josh Reese in the end-zone. Touchdown Central Florida. 20-17 Penn State, 11:31 left in the game.

11:01 a.m. — The fourth quarter begins with Central Florida at Penn State’s twelve. Holman hits his receiver on a quick slant to the two yard line. First and goal for the Knights.

10:57 a.m. Hackenberg is having a BIG game:

  10:54 a.m. — However, Central Florida continues with its own momentum on offense. A huge completion aided by poor tackling, coupled with a roughing the passer penalty quickly finds the Knights at Penn State’s thirteen yard line. End of the third quarter: Lions up 20-10.

10:51 a.m. — Hackenberg pump faked short, drawing the defenders in on the touchdown pass, allowing Lewis to roam free in the secondary.

  10:49 a.m. — TOUCHDOWN PENN STATE. The Lions get the HUGE play they need, Hackenberg finds Geno Lewis for a 79 yard touchdown. Lewis was wide open, having outrun two defenders. Penn State back up 20-10, with under a minute remaining in the third quarter.

10:47 a.m. — Lions drive starts at the 28 yard line. Hackenberg is sacked on first down for a loss of nine. Penn State in need of a big play, as Central Florida is quickly gaining momentum.

10:41 a.m. — Holman’s entrance has sparked the Knights’ offense. A bomb to receiver Breshad Perriman finds UCF at the one yard line. Two plays later, Holman pushes forward into the end-zone. 13-10, Penn State still ahead. 2:39 left in the third quarter. Holman 3-3 on his first drive.

10:39 a.m. — DiNovo is benched as Justin Holman now takes center for Central Florida.

10:34 a.m. — Yet again, Penn State stalls before finding the end-zone. Ficken splits the uprights for his second field goal of the game. 13-3 Penn State, 6:56 left in the third quarter. Despite the lack of offense from Central Florida, the Lions inability to capitalize in the red zone is keeping it close.

 10:32 a.m. — Hackenberg finds Hamilton again! This time, the 6-1 receiver outleaps the Knights’ corner down the sideline. Big gain, Lions just outside of the redzone.

10:29 a.m. — Despite a dismal first half, DiNovo returns at quarterback for the Knights first drive of the half. Promptly, Zettel sacks DiNovo on the second play. The ensuing play, Adrian Amos bats down DiNovo’s pass. Great first series for the Lions’ defense, more of the same for DiNovo. Jesse Della Valle fields the punt, and PSU will take over from its 40, 9:00 left in the third.

10:25 a.m. — Hackenberg again attempts a pass across the field while falling backwards on third down. It’s incomplete and the Lions punt into the end-zone. 10-3 Penn State, with 10:36 remaining in the third quarter.

10:21 a.m. — The running game is starting to pick up, and Hackenberg finds Jesse James on third and two. Hack rolled left and threw right while falling to the ground, and stood up groggily. Lions at the UCF 40 yard line.

10:19 a.m. — True freshmen Grant Haley returns the second half kickoff to midfield. A holding penalty brings it back to the thirty, where the Lions will start its drive.

9:59 a.m. — Some halftime stats: Hackenberg threw for 218 yards and an interception while completing 17 of 26 passes. Hamilton is in the midst of a breakout game — six receptions for 107 yards. Rushing game has yet to get rolling as neither Zwinak nor Belton have more than two yards. UCF only has 35 total yards. Jordan Lucas and the rest of the secondary have limited DiNovo in his first career games: he’s 3/7 for 18 yards.

 9:57 a.m. — C.J. Olaniyan sacks DiNovo, and the clock runs out! Lions head to the locker room ahead, 10-3.

9:56 a.m. — Hack can’t connect on third down. Outside of Ficken’s range, Lion’s elect to go for it. Hackenberg is sacked, and with 14 seconds left in the half, UCF takes over near midfield with two timeouts. Poor execution for the Lions.

9:50 a.m. — On third and ten from the UCF 24, Hackenberg finds Godwin at the ten. Yet it’s all for nothing as Godwin is tagged for offensive pass interference. Third and forever now…Lions take their second timeout with 29 seconds left. In case you didn’t know what pass interference is, Croke Park would love to explain:

 9:46 a.m. — Big play on second down: Hackenberg finds Jesse James at midfield. James get laid out and hobbles off the field. On the next play, Hackenberg finds Chris Godwin at the 36 with just over a minute on the clock.

9:43 a.m. — The penalty proved to be non-fatal for the Nittany Lions. Central Florida stalls on its next set of downs, and punts again, this time without a flag. Lucas fields the ball around the 24, where PSU will take over. Hack and co. will have 2:10 before the half.

9:40 a.m. — Penn State is controlling all aspects of the offensive side of the game. Hamilton has 70 more yards than Central Florida: Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 9.37.52 AM 9:38 a.m. — Lions force a quick three and out, Barnes takes down DiNovo on third down behind the line of scrimmage. Punt is almost blocked, but Lucas fields it at Penn State’s thirty yard line…but it’s all diminished by a personal foul on Penn State. UCF with a new set of downs.

9:31 a.m. — Zwinak takes a direct snap from the wildcat on third and goal from the one yard line. Zwinak hesitates, and is taken down for a loss of three. Ficken drills a 22 yard field goal, 10-3 Penn State with 6:20 left in the half. Three plays from within the two yard line, and the Lions come out of it with only three points.

9:27 a.m. — Another Hackenberg to Hamilton hookup — this time on a rollout to the right for 26 yards to the two yard line!

9:23 a.m. — Hack has all day in the pocket on this drive, as the offensive line seems to be holding up just fine. Finds Carter for 16 yards and another first down to the UCF 29.

9:17 a.m. — Hackenberg to Hamilton is becoming a reliable connection: the sophomore receiver has five receptions on six attempts. A completion to James on the ensuing play find that Nittany Lions at its 42 yard line.

9:13 a.m. — Penn State takes down DiNovo on third down. Knights nail a 36 yard field goal from the right hash. 7-3, Penn State still ahead with 12:26 remaining in the half.

9:04 a.m. —  The first quarter ends with Penn State ahead, 7-0. Zwinak may have only tallied five yards on four carries, but reached an impressive milestone:

Hackenberg went 8/10 for 103 yards in the first fifteen minutes of play; -1 rushing yard for the Lions.

9:01 a.m. — Hackenberg’s pass to Geno Lewis is intercepted by Central Florida, the first turnover for Penn State thus far. UCF will take over in Penn State territory. Not a great pass from Hack, who failed to look off the defender.

8:59 a.m. — Allen Robinson emphasizes the importance of this drive:

Meanwhile, Penn State continues to #dominatesocailmedia: Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 9.05.23 AM 8:57 a.m. — Run game largely nonexistent for Penn State so far, as a Bill Belton run gets called back for a hold. Still, Belton finds a small hold on third down for another first down. Lions up to the 22 yard line.

8:53 a.m. — The Knights stall four times at the goal line!! A turnover on downs will give Penn State the ball back at the one yard line.

8:50 a.m. — Central Florida takes Ficken’s kickoff nearly eighty yards to Penn State’s 23 yard line but Trevor Williams tracks him down, saving a touchdown.

8:49 a.m. — Hackenberg went 4/5 for 76 yards on his first drive of the 2014 season.

8:45 a.m. — Touchdown Penn State!! Third time’s a charm for Zwinak, who tumbles into the end zone. Ficken nails the extra point, Nittnay Lions up 7-0!

8:43 a.m. — Two Zach Zwinak runs find the Nittany Lions near the goal line. The second was initially ruled a touchdown but ultimately overturned.

8:42 a.m. — Hackenberg finds Hamiltom again, this time for a 44 yard reception on first down! First and goal from the three.

8:40 a.m. — Penn State stalls on third down but a roughing the kicker penalty extends the drive. Penalties abound to begin the game.

8:37 a.m. — Hackenberg avoids a sack on third and eight, scrambles left and finds DaeSean Hamilton for a first down. Lions started to find some rhythm as a light rain begins in Dublin.

8:35 a.m. — Some executional errors early for Penn State so far: a false start before its first play.

8:34 a.m. — Nittany Lions force a three out on its first defensive series. 52 yard punt puts the Blue and White at the 20 yard line.

8:32 a.m. — And Penn State’s 2014 season is underway!!…starts with a personal foul for Penn State on the kickoff. Central Florida has the ball, with quarterback Pete DiNovo, playing his first career game.

8:24 a.m. — Penn State takes the field to a simple message (via Penn State football):



8:16 a.m. — Neither Central Florida running back William Stanback nor wide receiver Rannell Hall will be playing for the Knights today. Huge loss.

8:14 a.m. — #WeAre is currently trending across the country…fifteen minutes until kickoff.

Screen Shot 2014-08-30 at 8.05.35 AM

8:08 a.m. — As we reported earlier in the week, Penn State does indeed have names on the jerseys. UCF has these special helmets for the game.

8:01 a.m. — Good morning Penn State! The fans who made the trip across the pond are up bright and early — fans outnumber UCF supporters “about 20:1” according to Kevin Horne.


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About the Author

Ben Berkman

State College, PA

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