Friday, September 4, 2015

Hackenberg leads Penn State offense to halftime 6-3 lead

Penn State leads at the half, 6-3. Here are some of the takeaways.

Hackenberg leads Penn State offense to halftime 6-3 lead

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Things went from bad to great to awful to hallelujah for Penn State in the second quarter. 

Nothing was falling in the Nittany Lions’ favor for the first quarter and half of the second against Syracuse at MetLife Stadium. Wideout Allen Robinson didn’t play for unknown reasons, tight end Matt Lehman was carted off the field after an apparent leg injury, and quarterback Tyler Ferguson fumbled under no clear pressure on his second snap. At least true freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg was playing well in first collegiate start. 

Then, within just a few game minutes, Penn State’s Carl Nassib tackled the punter on fourth down, Hackenberg promptly threw a pick, Stephen Obeng-Agyapong recovered a fumble, Sam Ficken faked a field goal, and, finally, kicked a real one. 

All that happened, and the half ended in a surprising 6-3 Penn State lead. 

Aside from the interception, Hackenberg handled himself with the cool demeanor only a true freshman quarterback playing his first collegiate game in an NFL stadium could. In his opening drive, he converted a play action on fourth down deep in his own territory. When he couldn’t find the endzone, he punted the ball himself. 

Hackenberg completed 11 of 15 pass attempts, throwing one pick, taking one sack and punting once.

NOTES: 

  • Linebacker Mike Hull briefly left the field after an injury in the first quarter, but soon returned. With the Lions linebacking depth issues, Hull’s return saves the coaching staff and the team a lot of stress. 
  • Adam Breneman broke onto Penn State’s stat sheet with one tackle on punt coverage. He did not reel in a reception. 
  • On a halftime TV interview with ESPN, O’Brien said Robinson would play in the second half.
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About this blog
Joe Juliano has been a staff writer for The Inquirer for 30 years, covering covering Penn State football, Villanova basketball and other college sports, along with golf and the Penn Relays. This is his seventh season on The Inquirer’s Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for United Press International from 1976-84.

Joining Joe this season will be Erin McCarthy, an intern for The Inquirer and a junior at Penn State majoring in print and digital journalism. This is Erin's first season on the Penn State football beat. She previously spent two summers as an Inquirer summer intern on the Pennsylvania and South Jersey desks. She is also an editor for the Daily Collegian, the university's student newspaper. A Delaware County native, Erin graduated from Episcopal Academy.

Reach Joe at jjuliano@phillynews.com.

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
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