Sports Magazine

Penn State : Penn State Rolls Past Massachusetts

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
Penn State rolls past Massachusetts 48-7
By Chris Adamski
Penn State : Penn State rolls past Massachusetts
UNIVERSITY PARK — After three weeks of frustration with little success in establishing a running game, Penn State wasn't going to take no for an answer against Massachusetts.
During a cathartic second quarter Saturday, it showed.
Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak each had two rushing touchdowns during the Nittany Lions' biggest point output for a quarter in almost five years. The outburst all but sealed what became a 48-7 victory against the overmatched Minutemen.
“We kept hearing from coaches, ‘Hey, we've got to be able to run the ball,' ” right tackle Andrew Nelson said. “This week we just decided were going to run the ball — no matter what.”
After entering the game averaging 75.7 yards rushing and 2.5 per carry and with two rushing touchdowns through three weeks, the Lions managed 80 yards, an 8.0 per-carry average and four touchdowns during the second quarter.
Akeel Lynch added a rushing touchdown early in the third quarter during the final series Penn State's regulars played, and the Lions amassed 228 yards rushing (5.1 per carry).
“(The running game) was a focal point for us all week at practice,” quarterback Christian Hackenberg said. “That was a theme for us — getting our backs going. So it was good. The O-line was making the right calls.”
Penn State, 4-0 for the first time since 2008, posted its largest point output since a 52-3 win against Eastern Illinois in 2009. That was against an FCS foe — Penn State's most recent 48-plus point game against an FBS team came the year before against Michigan State.
UMass is in its infancy as a member of the NCAA's most prestigious football grouping. Although the Minutemen (0-4) were competitive in one-score losses to Power 5 conference foes the past two weeks, they were far from in the program's first trip to Beaver Stadium.
That allowed for a rare laugher for sanctions-saddled Penn State, which enjoyed its largest margin of victory in the post-Joe Paterno era.
The final quarter and a half featured almost exclusively walk-ons and freshmen at the skill positions and several offensive linemen subbing in.
“The most important point from today is we were able to play a bunch of guys,” coach James Franklin said. “Get a bunch of guys experience.”
Among statistics from the regulars: Belton had 76 yards on seven carries, Zwinak 28 yards on nine carries, Lynch 81 yards on eight carries — a combined 185 yards on 24 carries (7.7 average) with five touchdowns.
“It was more so staying patient in the running game,” Belton said, “and that's what we did.
“First couple of games, you could tell that all of us were frustrated with the run game. But that's the way it goes when you have guys that aren't experienced like that. It's coming together nice.”
DaeSean Hamilton and Geno Lewis — two of the Big Ten's three leading receivers — combined for a relatively modest nine catches for 147 yards, or roughly the output each had been posting per game to that point.
Then again, they weren't needed in the second half, and they were hamstrung early by one of the shakiest starts to the game of Hackenberg's career.
Hackenberg misfired on 7 of 10 attempts during the Lions' first two possessions, and Penn State netted only a 42-yard Sam Ficken field goal. Hackenberg finished 12 of 23 for 179 yards. He avoided throwing an interception for the first time this season.
Belton had two similar touchdown runs 83 seconds apart early in the second quarter to all but erase any doubt about the outcome.
The first, a 24-yard run, came on a toss sweep on third-and-2 at the 10:11 mark of the second quarter. After Mike Hull forced a UMass fumble, Belton scored from the wildcat from 20 yards out 1:23 later to make it 20-0.
Zwinak made it four second-quarter possessions, four touchdowns for Penn State with scoring runs of 5 yards and 1 yard over a 2:13 span during the final 3:37 of the first half.
The 28 second-quarter points are the most for Penn State in a quarter since having 28 during the fourth quarter of a win against Michigan State in 2009.
An even more impressive superlative on a day of many of them for Penn State: UMass netted 3 yards rushing. That's the fewest allowed by a Penn State defense since Notre Dame had zero Sept. 8, 2007.
“It's always nice to win in this fashion,” Hull said. “You get a lot of younger guys in to get experience and also some of the older guys who have paid their dues.”

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