Welcome Home, Dear Old State: Penn State 29, Indiana 7
Rewind to last weekend, and consider the storylines heading into today’s matchup. Penn State barely survives an Army team it was supposed to obliterate, while the Hoosiers took top-ranked Ohio State to the brink of defeat, only to lose as quarterback Zander Diamont fumbled the snap on fourth-and-goal. This week, it was a different story. Penn State 29, Indiana 7.
How It Happened
Penn State got off to a good start on its first drive, with Nick Scott breaking off a 35-yard rush on the second play from scrimmage. A dropped ball from Chris Godwin on what would’ve been a first down later on the drive ended it. The two teams combined for four punts in the game’s first seven minutes, which is not how any coach draws up a game. On Penn State’s third possession, it finally broke through. It appeared as though Hackenberg had been sacked on third down and lost a fumble, but a hands to the face penalty on the Hoosiers gave away a free first down. On the next play, Hackenberg found a streaking Brandon Polk for a 35-yard touchdown.
Indiana responded with an eight-play, 64-yard drive that ended with a Diamont rush into the end zone. After tying the game, the Hoosiers tried and recovered a surprise onside kick, though ultimately punted on their next drive.
The beginning of the second quarter was highlighted by a bone-crushing sack around the edge by Garrett Sickels, followed by a staple of Bob Shoop’s ferocious defense: pressure up the middle. A safety blitz by Marcus Allen prompts the Hoosiers to punt after failing to convert off the halfback screen. Christian Hackenberg looked poised and collective on the following drive, picking up an important first down by firing a bullet to a slanting Chris Godwin. Godwin was the recipient of yet another first down later in the drive, aided by John Donovan’s willingness to let his quarterback throw the ball. The drive stalled after an end-around by Thompkins was negated by an illegal block up front.
Christian Hackenberg was revitalized on the team’s next drive, as a handful of beautiful throws set up Hackenberg to launch career touchdown pass No. 39, tying him with Penn State legend Kerry Collins for No. 6 all-time. Hackenberg used his legs to his advantage, driving the Lions downfield after yet another Indiana punt. He rolled right off play action, drawing the entire defense off-guard as he waltzed his way into the endzone. Another extra point miss from Joey Julius took Penn State’s lead to 19-7, the final scoring of the half.
The third quarter got off to a slow start, as both teams traded possessions with neither making much of them. Diamont went down early in the quarter with an apparent shoulder injury. Danny Cameron came in on Indiana’s next drive, leading the offense to a short drive and quick punt. A few drives later, Cameron led his team to a 4th and 3 at Penn State’s 34-yard line before having his pass batted down at the line of scrimmage, for a turnover on downs.
Freshman John Reid electrified the crowd with an early interception, setting up Penn State at its own 40 yard line. Hackenberg promptly went to work, moving the chains with small pickups, methodically dissecting the Indiana secondary. Hackenberg found Carter three times on the drive, the second going for a pickup of 21 yards. The drive was capped off after Hackenberg powered his way across the pylon for his second rushing touchdown of the game, putting Penn State up 26-7. New kicker Tyler Davis tacks on three more on a chip-shot attempt, making it 29-7.
Player Of The Game
Today’s Player of the Game honors go to Penn State’s new dual-threat quarterback, Christian Hackenberg. Usually a pocket-passer, Hackenberg used his legs to his advantage against the Hoosiers, rushing for 21 yards and two touchdowns, nicely complementing his 262 yard, two touchdown performance through the air. Hackenberg managed the game well, willing his team to victory over a battle-tested opponent.
Penn State travels to No. 1 Ohio State next weekend for a primetime matchup in one of the fiercest environments in college football. Should be a good one.