[Live Blog] Penn State vs. Northwestern

Good morning and happy homecoming Penn State fans! The undefeated Nittany Lions host Northwestern in their Big Ten home opener. 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.

Final — Penn State will elect to run the clock out. The Lions will drop to 4-1, with a bye week upcoming. The final score is Northwestern 29, Penn State 6.

The Nittany Lions failed to score a touchdown in Beaver Stadium for the first time since 2004. The Wildcats led in offensive yards by a margin of 361 to 266.

7:18 4Q — Attendance is announced at 102,910. Biggest crowd of the year and the first time Beaver Stadium has had six figures on the season. #102kstrong

7:22 4Q — Trevor Siemian takes his third QB sneak of the day into the end zone and Mitchell again misses the extra point.

Northwestern 29, Penn State 6.

Either we’re about to see the greatest comeback in sports history, or this game is over.

10:47 4Q — This game is pretty much over. The Nittany Lions can’t convert facing a 4th & 1 deep on their own side of the field. Bill Belton took the carry and was taken down in the backfield. Northwestern has the ball in the red zone.

13:06 4Q — The Wildcats offense gains just eight yards on three downs before Jack Mitchell nails a 23-yard field goal try.

Northwestern 23, Penn State 6.

14:42 4Q — Hackenberg is sacked on the first play of the drive. He fumbles and the Wildcats recover the ball at the Penn State 15-yard line.

He’s been sacked EIGHT times in today’s game. The offensive line has been miserably bad in both pocket protection and run-blocking.

14:49 4Q — And this is getting even uglier for the Nittany Lions. Christian Hackenberg is picked off by Wildcat Anthony Walker, who dashes 49 yards to the end zone to make it Northwestern 20, Penn State 6.

For those keeping track of my math at home, the Wildcats did indeed miss the extra point.

0:31 3Q — Penn State was driving down the field when Hackenberg scrambled left and smashed helmets with Northwestern cornerback Matt Harris. He immediately went down and didn’t look to be moving as medical personnel attended to Harris for nearly ten minutes. An eerie quiet fell over the stadium and just about every player on the field took a knee.

As he was carted off, Harris gave a thumbs up to the crowd, receiving a loud cheer in response to the gesture. Our thoughts are with Harris and we hope his injury isn’t serious.

4:09 3Q — Both teams have struggled to gain any momentum on offense with the exception of one Northwestern drive that made it to the red zone off of a big catch by Dan Vitale. Adrian Amos picked off a poorly thrown ball as C.J. Olaniyan hit the quarterback and Penn State quickly drove, but stalled in Northwestern territory and Hack threw incomplete for Geno lewis on a 4th & 2.

11:17 3Q — The Penn State offense opened up the second half with a three and out before punting to Northwestern. A Deion Barnes 13-yard sack put the Wildcats far behind the sticks and they were not able to convert a third down attempt. Jesse Della Valle returned the ensuing punt 41 yards and a couple of passes got the Nittany Lions into the red zone.

Hackenberg twice tried for the end zone. One pass found Geno Lewis just past the goal line. He dove but couldn’t come down with it. The next ball went to DaeSean Hamilton who looked to be held by a cornerback but no flag was thrown and an incomplete pass to a wide open Bill Belton on third down forced a 36-yard Sam Ficken field goal try.

The kick was good and cut the Northwestern lead to 14-6.

Halftime — The Nittany Lions ended off the half with a solid two-minute drill that culminated with a 42-yard field goal by Ficken that went right down the middle. Northwestern leads 14-3.

First half stats: Northwestern leads 14-3 with 232 yards to PSU’s 138. 11 first downs to 7 in favor of the Wildcats. Hackenberg started slow but strung together some passes late in the half. He’s 12-for-21 with 131 yards. The run game has amounted just seven yards on the ground on 13 carries for an average of less than half a yard per rush.

3:35 2Q — Ficken is blocked on a 32-yard attempt. The kick had a low trajectory and was easily brought down by the Wildcats. Penn State’s first positive drive of the game ends with no score.

4:29 2Q — Things. Are. Happening. Hackenberg threw an absolute bomb to DaeSean Hamilton down the middle. The freshman receiver came down with a jump ball over two Wildcats for a massive 51-yard gain to the Northwestern 16-yard line.

9:33 2Q — It hasn’t gotten any prettier for the Nittany Lions. Northwestern drove down to the Penn State 33-yard line before bringing out the offense on 4th-and-7. The Wildcats took a delay of game and punted for a touchback, but the Nittany Lions offense couldn’t make anything happen. Christian Hackenberg ran for four yards on a scramble. Zach Zwinak lost all four on second down. A sack on third down brought Chris Gulla on to punt yet again after another three-and-out. The offense looks lost, but the defense seems to be picking it up after giving up 14 points on the first three Northwestern drives.

14:02 2Q — Penn State managed to pick up a first down for the first time in the game as the clock winded down on the first quarter, but opened up the next frame with two incomplete passes and a short gain on a completion to Bill Belton before Chris Gulla game on to punt.

1:22 1Q — The Wildcats again drove into the red zone after starting with great field position off of a short punt by Gulla. The defense finally fended them off and forced the field goal, but Northwestern attempted a fake and ran it instead. Mike Hull made a huge tackle short of the goal line and put the offense back on the field.

3:30 1Q — Incomplete pass. Two-yard run on a delayed handoff to Akeel Lynch. Sack. Three and out. The offense looks anemic and the defense can’t stop Northwestern. And special teams is struggling too as the punt is nearly blocked and goes just 17 yards to the Penn State 29-yard line.

4:38 1Q — Suffice it to say that things are going as badly as they possibly could for Penn State thus far. The defense again gave up two big chances at third down stops, the second coming from just one yard shy of the goal line. Trevor Siemian ran in his second score of the game and Northwestern leads 14-0.

Siemian is 9-for-11 passing with 124 yards and two rushing touchdowns. Penn State has a total of 10 yards on offense.

The Nittany Lions offense will be back on the field following the kickoff as they try to turn things around and get some momentum going.

8:30 1Q — Zach Zwinak ran for five yards on first down, but then this happened:

9:29 1Q — Northwestern capitalized on the solid field position, converting a 3rd-and-8 as Trevor Siemian hit a wide-open Mike McHugh on the one-yard line. Siemian kept it on the next play and easily found his way through the line for a score. Northwestern leads 7-0.


10:56 1Q — The Penn State offense started things off nicely with a Christian Hackenberg seven-yard pass to DaeSean Hamilton, but the drive quickly died down. Bill Belton ran for just one yard on second down and was tackled in the backfield out of the Wildcat formation on the ensuing play for a loss of yards. Daniel Pasquariello came in to punt and booted a line drive at Miles Shuler, who brought it back 42 yards to the Penn State 31-yard line.


12:52 1Q — Northwestern opened the game with a nice drive, stringing together passes including a 40-yard gain on a wide receiver screen with room to run down the left sideline. The offense stalled out at the Penn State 27-yard line after a chop block penalty pushed it back 15 yards. The Northwestern kicked missed a 44-yard attempt wide right to keep the game scoreless before Christian Hackenberg and the Penn State offense came on for the first time.


11:55 a.m. — The S-Zone has Penn State’s original colors on for Homecoming:



11:45 a.m. — We are just 15 minutes shy of kickoff! The Alumni Blue Band played the alma mater and the student Blue Band is now on the field.


11:09 a.m. — The team is going with some throwback jerseys for Homecoming, dropping the names:


10:48 a.m. — It’s bright and sunny outside as the Nittany Lions warm up in the end zone shadows ahead of the 12 p.m. kickoff against Northwestern today. (photo: Bobby Chen/OS)

football warmups northwestern

10:27 a.m. — Taylor Swift blares through the Beaver Stadium speakers as Nittanyville trickles into the student section. Team members are on the field completing their initial warmups.

9:30 a.m. — Fans have lined up to welcome the team on this sunny Saturday morning.


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About the Author

Zach Berger

Zach Berger is a reporter and Onward State's Managing Editor Emeritus. You can find him at the Phyrst more nights than not. If he had to pick a last meal, Zach would go for a medium-rare New York strip steak with a side of garlic mashed potatoes and a cold BrewDog Punk IPA. You can reach him via e-mail at [email protected] or on Twitter at @theZachBerger.

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