Hackenberg, Penn St tops Eastern Michigan, 45-7

Associated Press  |  Last updated September 07, 2013
Christian Hackenberg threw for 311 yards and a touchdown, and Zach Zwinak and Bill Belton each ran for a pair of scores, leading Penn State past Eastern Michigan 45-7 on Saturday. Hackenberg went 23 of 33 and overcame a shaky start to lead Penn State (2-0) to a win in its home opener. He connected with Allen Robinson for a 45-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that helped put the game away. He set a Penn State mark for yards passing by a freshman. After the running game never got going in the season opener vs. Syracuse, Zwinak broke through for a pair of short scores. Belton added a 51-yard touchdown run in the fourth and had 108 yards rushing. Akeel Lynch added a 27-yard score in the fourth and also had 108 yards rushing. Penn State's Sam Ficken set a school record with his 14th straight field goal, a 39-yarder that closed the first half. Eastern Michigan (1-1) scored off a fumble to avoid the shutout. Hackenberg followed up a strong debut with another promising effort. The 18-year-old just needed time to get going. Perhaps hit with some home-field nerves, he wildly overthrew his first few attempts, and lost a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Hunter Matt for an 11-yard score. Once he settled down, he took over. He rebounded from the fumble to hit Robinson for a 43-yard gain down to the 8-yard line. Zwinak carried a couple of defenders on him as he stormed into the end zone for a 2-yard run that tied the game at 7. Lost in the excitement of Hackenberg's debut last week, was a backfield performance that had coach Bill O'Brien taking blame for the poor effort. No need for apologies after this one. Zwinak had a 20-yard run in the third, then scored two plays later on a 7-yard burst for a 24-7 lead. Belton had a 5-yard scoring run in the second, then charged into the end zone with an open field 51-yard burst down the middle that put the Nittany Lions' faithful on their feet. Penn State announced more than 92,000 fans were at Beaver Stadium, though it was far from full and there were scores of empty sections in the upper levels. O'Brien had stumped around the state asking fans to continue to support the program and fill the stadium every Saturday. Not even the return of the 1973 undefeated team could spark a full house. Penn State honored more than 50 members of the squad that capped a perfect 12-0 season with an Orange Bowl win against LSU but failed to win the national championship. There was a huge ovation for John Cappelletti, the 1973 Heisman Trophy winner. In a surprise move, Penn State retired his No. 22. Missing, of course, was former coach Joe Paterno. Paterno, who died in 2012, still looms large in Happy Valley. An electronic billboard on the way to town flashed ''409 Forever,'' in honor of his win total. In his second season, O'Brien seems to have won over the die-hards. He was greeted to a rousing ovation from fans who lined the entrance to the stadium. He popped off the team bus thrusting his fists and pointing at the early risers who came out to greet the team. And the result in his second home opener was much different from a disheartening loss to Ohio last year on Labor Day weekend. In fact, Eastern Michigan's offense could do nothing against Penn State. A few early marches into Penn State territory came up empty and the Eagles, out of the Mid-American Conference, were flat in the second half. They mustered only 7 total yards in the third quarter. Tyreese Russell had eight catches for 73 yards for EMU. Ficken went 3 for 3 last week and kicked one more field goal against the Eagles to set the Nittany Lions record.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
The Best Names in College Football for 2016
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Lochte to be summoned to appear in Rio, charged with making false report

Carlos Ruiz traded to Dodgers

Ezekiel Elliott reportedly arrived at training camp overweight

Olympian auctions off medal to help young cancer patient

Report: Dodgers have turned down lowball offers for Puig

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jason Pierre-Paul’s lawsuit against Adam Schefter, ESPN will proceed

The Rock, Vin Diesel to settle 'rivalry' at WrestleMania 33?

Report: Browns trade former No. 6 overall pick Mingo to Pats

Harden organizing players-only minicamp with Rockets

Raiders file trademark applications for ‘Las Vegas Raiders’

U.S. Soccer hands Solo six month suspension for Olympic comments

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for fast food

What you need to know about the Champions League draw

Can the San Francisco Giants bust their teamwide slump?

A look at 2016 college football conference changes

The 20 best boxing movies ever

Will Perriman help Ravens find elusive WR success?

Jay Bouwmeester’s selection to Team Canada’s World Cup roster is a head-scratcher

Five MLB players with a lot to lose down the stretch

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for our favorite football movies

Bruce Arians on sideline video use: 'It helps bad coaches'

Hard not to be cynical about LeBron's 'Cleveland Hustles'

Familiar faces that won't be seen in the NFL this year

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 20 best boxing movies of all time

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for fast food

What you need to know about the Champions League draw

Can the San Francisco Giants bust their teamwide slump?

A look at 2016 college football conference changes

Can Perriman's return help Ravens find oft-elusive WR success?

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for our favorite football movies

Hard not to be cynical about LeBron James' 'Cleveland Hustles'

Ranking the uniforms of the NFL from worst to best

Familiar faces that won't be seen in the NFL this year

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker