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[Live Blog] Penn State vs. Akron

It’s game day, Penn State fans! The Nittany Lions (1-0) host the Akron Zips (1-0) in James Franklin’s first home game as head coach. Coming off a thrilling, 26-24 victory over Central Florida in Ireland, Penn State will look to ride its momentum against a Zips team that crushed Howard 41-0 last weekend. 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 are our staff predictions for today. 

Final — And it’s over!! Penn State wins, 21-3, and improves t0 2-0!! It wasn’t overwhelmingly pretty, but it was a defiant victory nonetheless. Up next: the Lions travel to Rutgers. Thanks for following along, check back to Onward State for more post-game analysis.

1:02 — The Lions look like they’ll be able to run out the clock, and Akron isn’t intent on stopping them. Second and five from the Zips’ 21.

4:09 — Incomplete! A turnover on downs with 4:09 (!!) remaining in the game!

4:42 — A third down conversion puts Akron at Penn State’s 13. On second down, Andrew Pratt drops a ball over the middle, to cause a third and ten. Pohl’s third down effort to D’Orazio sails behind the intended receiver. Akron will go for it.

8:47 — Akron starts from the 20 after a touchback. A few quick slants find Akron at Penn State’s 35, two of them to D’Orazio who has five receptions for 61 yards on the day.

8:58 — TOUCHDOWN Penn State!!! Hackenberg finds Jesse James wide open down the left side, who ran free into the end zone. Great speed from the 254 pound tight end, who outlasted numerous Akron defenders. This is James’ first two touchdown game.

9:30 — On fourth and inches Hundley is stopped well short, taken down behind the line of scrimmage!! It’s a turnover on downs.

10:27 — Two minimal plays bring up a third and seven from the 44. Pohl scrambles and finds Chisholm, who is forced out of bounds inches in front of the first down marker. The Zips line up to go for it; a timeout is called instead.

12:23 — On third and eight, Penn State draws two consecutive offsides to move the chains without running a play. But a play later Hackenberg targets Lewis in the end zone and is intercepted. Big return brings Akron to Penn State’s 47. This is the second consecutive week Hack’s thrown two interceptions.

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14:01, 4th quarter — Zwinak runs for 18 yards to the the Akron 28. For about ten of those yards, Zwinak carried and dragged multiple Zips defenders.

1:49 — From the Wilcat formation, Lynch carries for eight yards. Lynch takes it again on the next snap and picks up a first down. Penn State will let the clock run out, a second and nine from Penn State’s 35 will start the final fifteen minutes.

Hackenberg has set a new Penn State record for passing yards on back to back games with 706, beating Zack Mills’ previous mark of 686.

Another note: on just three carries for 24 yards, Lynch has become the Lion’s leading rusher this afternoon. Belton has six carries for 19 yards, while Zwinak has carried five times for three yards. Let those numbers speak for themselves.

2:38 — The Zips begin the march down the field with a 13 yard gain to Penn State’s 38. Trevor Williams makes an incredible play on the ball two plays later, rushing in to knock down a swing pass. The Zips cannot convert a third and ten, and punt through the end zone. Franklin, despite offensive woes, has to be pleased with his defense’s performance thus far.

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2:44 — Third and five from the thirteen: TOUCHDOWN Penn State!! Hackenberg finds Jesse James at the two, who pulls a defender into the end zone. As was a theme this drive, Hackenberg sat in the pocket for more than three seconds before finding his tight end. This was the drive the Nittany Lions needed: ten plays, 79 yards, 5:26 off the clock. 14-3 Penn State.

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“Sweet Caroline” blasts through Beaver Stadium for the first time this season; the crowd rejoices to the Lion’s approval.

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3:39 — Hackenberg finds Lewis again. The offensive line has given Hack time to throw consistently all day. It’s a gain of 19 to the Akron 18. On the next play, it’s Lewis once more, for a five yard reception.

5:39 — And the Nittany Lions convert! A 28 yard pass and catch to Geno Lewis in double coverage along the sideline moves the chains to the Zips 40.

7:05 — Hackenberg is sacked. Again, he held the ball in the pocket for too long; Kyle Carter was wide open fifteen yards down the field. A Zwinak two yard gain brings up third and twenty five.

7:56 — A defensive pass interference call starts this drive in Penn State’s favor. Swing pass to Belton on the ensuing play gains ten yards…but a hold brings it right back.

8:07 — Uneventful three and out for the Zips — a 43 yard punt that is fair caught by Della Valle puts Penn State at the 21 to start the drive.

10:41 — Hack finds Hamilton on to consecutive plays, totaling fifteen yards. A five yard run by Belton brings up a third and two for Penn State. Great throw by Hackenberg on third down — put it only where Carter could have caught it. But, alas, Carter drops the ball. Gulla punts to twenty. Zips receiver evades numerous tackles before he’s brought down at the 30.

11:07 — Haley returns the kick to the 25, where he is leveled by the Zips defender. A penalty on the return pushes the Lions back to the nine.

13:22 — Pohl finds his receivers for consecutive gains of 16 and ten. That puts the Zips in the red zone. Three players later, on third and nine from the fourteen, Pohl finds Fransohn Bickley for a gain of six. Ryan Keiser makes a touchdown saving tackle. The field goal is good — 7-3 now, Penn State’s lead is cut. Efficient six play, thirty yard drive; Akron looked much to start the half than did Penn State.

13:58, 3rd quarter — Penn State receives the ball to start the second half. From its 47, the Lions promptly fumble and Alfonso Horner recovers for Akron at the 46. The Zips will have great field position. Terrible way to start the half.

Halftime — This is the debut of Penn State’s new, massive scoreboards. Overall, I’m less than impressed. While the video quality has improved, the scoreboards feature neither the time nor the score. They can fit nine advertisements at once, a wholly overwhelming site. They do transcribe the PA announcer’s audio, which is a neat, yet unneeded touch.

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Halftime — Here are your first half stats:

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Not a particularly pretty game so far for the Nittany Lions:

  • 0-5 on third downs
  • Losing the possession battle 18:47 to 11:13
  • 23 total rushing yards
  • Chris Gulla’s four punts, however, have averaged 48.3 yards.

0:53 — Akron is content to run out the clock. That’s it for the first half: 7-0 Penn State. A strong first quarter coupled by a lacking second quarter brings the Nittany Lions into the locker room. Penn State will receive to begin the second half.

1:07 — Hack can’t find Kyle Carter over the middle. Another drive stalls for Penn State. Gulla’s 47 yard punt bounces to Akron’s 16, where it will take over with exactly a minute left in the half.

1:30 — Hackenberg finds Chris Godwin out to the 38 yard line with 1:23 remaining. Godwin turns out of bounds to stop the clock. Hackenberg is knocked down while releasing the ball on the ensuing two plays: third and ten with 1:13 upcoming.

2:00 — Penn State takes a timeout in advance of a third and eight for Akron from the Zips’ 36. On third down, Mike Hull breaks up the Pohl’s pass. Jesse Della Valle fields Akron’s punt at the 16. 48 yard punt for Akron.

4:29 — Hack’s finds Hamilton on second down, who hurdles a defender for a gain of six. Franklin elects to run on third and four; Belton is brought down behind the line. Gulla, standing on the goal line, punts 53 yards out to the Zips’ 34. Unimpressive three plays by the Nittany Lions; leave 2:56 on the clock for Akron.

4:32 — On third and five, Pohl can’t connect with D’Orazio, who seems to be his favorite receiver. Big hold for the Nittany Lions. Akron’s punt is down at the nine yard line.

5:26 — On third and five from Penn State’s 45, Pohl throws to D’Orazio over the middle, again. The pass falls incomplete, but a pass interference keeps the Zips’ drive alive.

8:42 — Pohl dumps off to D’Orazio over the middle for a third down conversion to the 29. Pohl scrambles twice to bring up another third and two. Again, the Zips convert: Chisholm carries for 13 out to midfield. Timeout Akron.

9:46 — Akeel Lynch gets his first carry of the day and picks up ten yards on first down. On the next play, Hackenberg has all day to get rid of the ball. After waiting for nearly four seconds, he throws into double coverage over the middle — lucky not to be intercepted. Two more bad throws from Hackenberg lead to a fourth down punt. Poor series for number 14 under center. Zips will start from its 16 yard line, a 51 yard punt for Chris Gulla. We’ve seen some great punting today.

11:48 — Pohl finds Zach D’Orazio for 16 yards out to the 29. Three plays later, on third and eight, Pohl scrambles for four yards. That’s not enough to continue the drive for the Zips. Another strong punt of 48 yards find Penn State with the ball at its 23 yard line.

Hack has looked comfortable under center so far, save for his red zone interception last drive.

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12:50 — First and ten for Akron from essentially its own goal line. Hundley plows forward for two yards. A second down completion for ten yards to Keith Sconiers moves the chains.

12:55 — Just like that, Hackenberg throws into double coverage and is intercepted. Under-threw his intended receiver, who never had a chance. Akron will start from the half yard line, after a personal foul following the play.

15:00, 2nd quarter — Hackenberg picks up right where he left off, finding Nyeem Wartman to start the quarter for 18 yards. On the next play, Hack again connects with Lewis for 20 yards. Penn State now inside the redzone, first and ten from the 18.

1:08 — Hack to freshman Mike Geisicki goes for eleven yards, then Hack to Belton picks up another eleven on the ensuing play. Zwinak picks up two to the Penn State 44, which ends the first quarter. 7-0 Penn State after fifteen minutes.

Hackenberg is 7-10 for 91 yards and a touchdown. One of his three incompletions was dropped — he’s hardly made a poor throw so far. The run game has picked up to some extent, and the offensive line has protected the backfield. As such,  Herb Hand seems to approve:

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2:58 — Akron starts from the 35 yard line after Ficken’s kick bounces out of bounds. Parker Cothren sacks Pohl on second down for a loss of three — the Lions third sack so far. On third and seven, Pohl cannot find Mykel Bennett over the middle. Another punt for the Zips: touchback. Akron’s punter may be its move impressive player so far: two huge punts, this last one was 62 yards — all in the air.

2:58 — TOUCHDOWN Penn State!! Hackenberg fakes a handoff to Belton left, then passes to Belton right as he went uncovered after the misdirection fake, who scrambles into the end zone. Nittany Lions make it look easy: four plays, 58 yards in 1:50. 7-0 Penn State, 2:58 remains in the first quarter.

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3:30 — Last weekend’s breakout star Daesean Hamilton collects his first reception of the game. Hackenberg finds Hamilton out wide for a gain of fifteen.

4:30 — Hack pump fakes and fools the entire Zips defense. He finds Lewis down the right sideline for a gain of twenty yards. Lewis now with two receptions for 26 yards in the quarter.

4:48 — Hundley runs again for three yards, but not near enough for a first down. Akron boots a 43 yard punt to the Penn State 41. That’s where Hackenberg and company will start its second drive.

6:54 —  A holding call backs Akron up to the nine yard line. On first and eighteen, Chisholm carries right and is brought down for a loss of four! Connor Hundley gains the four yards back on second down, but that will bring up third and seventeen for the Zips.

7:13 —  Three straight incompletions lead to a fourth and ten. On third down, Hackenberg had tight end Jesse James open, but James let the ball slip right through his hands. Punt is fielded at Akron’s sixteen, where he’s brought down by Grant Haley.

8:00 — Penn State calls a timeout at its 43 yard line. Belton starting to find some cracks, with two nice runs in a row. First and ten coming up. In case you missed it, here’s a great shot of Franklin leading his Nittany Lions out of the locker room.

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9:21 — Hackenberg finds Geno Lewis for six yards on first down. That’s becoming a connection were used to seeing. Bill Belton slips through the backfield on a second down screen for a first down.

9:33 — Some stats from the first drive: Pohl was 4-5 for 56 yard. Running back Jawon Chisholm carried twice for nine yards.

9:33 — Kicker Tom O’Leary’s kick sails wide — no good! A promising drive for Akron ultimately stalls and results in no points. Penn State will take over from the 20.

10:15 — Pohl scrambles and is sacked again! This time by Jordan Lucas. Field goal unit out for the Zips.

11:00 — Anthony Zettel forces his way into the backfield and sacks Pohl. Four yard loss, third and goal from the eleven upcoming.

11:00 — Akron calls a timeout on second and goal from the seven. A lightening quick first four minutes at Beaver Stadium. Akron marched down the field, on 4-5 passing from quarterback Kyle Pohl.

11:56 — On third and one from the eight, Akron runs up the middle for a first down. On ensuing play, first and goal from the seven, a fade to the corner flies long.

13:00 — A 23 yard completion rapidly finds Akron inside the red zone. Second and nine coming up from the sixteen.

13:55 — Akron is moving quickly, already at Penn State’s forty yard line after two big plays. A no huddle offense is confusing Penn State.

15:00, 1st quarter — Penn State won the toss, and chose to defer. Last week’s hero Sam Ficken kicks off. Akron will start from the 27 yard line.

12:01 p.m. — The drum major nailed his flip, the Blue Band has performed, the Alma Mater has been sung, and the team has taken the field! Kickoff is next from Beaver Stadium. PoVuD34bpXg-mNg7359uQX5DyTYzJzz4JO8FGbONIuE 11:31 a.m. — Beaver Stadium is starting to fill up thirty minutes before kickoff. Unique for this week, Penn State offered forty dollar tickets for students who did not purchase season tickets. Clouds are starting to gather overhead, as there has been talk of severe weather this afternoon, but storms look to be holding off for the near future. DSC_0136 11:00 a.m. — James Franklin and company were heartily welcomed as they entered Beaver Stadium through a human tunnel, part of the new pre-game team entrance Penn State will feature this year. Now, the Nittany Lions are on the field warming up. ryPNOJ4QxBPSRS_t7fihvr1WPyGpVErl9ZWgiZ3wPO0 10ENoYLi0JDRyl34tCvor6-sJU4wW6R--wf9XT9QA38 DaeSean Hamilton looks poised for another big game. Meanwhile, Christian Hackenberg is as relaxed as always. hEATdIvMi8J5I4n5ggQ8gW7d582RsBvubj6tbHU2cAA

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About the Author

Ben Berkman

State College, PA

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