The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


September 7, 2013

College football: Penn State flexes offensive muscle

By Dan Gelston

The Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE -- With one fumble recovery, Eastern Michigan had a touchdown and a lead.

The Eagles' defense found the end zone more than their offense -- and that's no recipe to pull off an upset.

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 followed up a strong debut with another promising effort. The 18-year-old just needed time to get going. 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.

"It boosts your confidence," Eagles safety Mycal Swaim said. "We were really excited. We were pumped up when that happened. It's always good when you get a defensive score. It takes a little pressure off the offense so hopefully they can build some momentum."

Not against this Nittany Lions defense.

All the while, Eastern Michigan's offense could do little against Penn State. A few early marches into Nittany Lions 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.

"I think we lost some momentum there in the third quarter," Eagles coach Ron English said.

EMU's Tyreese Russell was one of few bright spots, hauling in eight catches for 73 yards.

But once Hackenberg beat his nerves, Eastern Michigan never stood a chance.

Hackenberg went 23 of 33 and overcame a shaky first couple of series 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 single-game mark for yards passing by a freshman.

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