PSU Rebounds Against Kent State

By Amy Gill

Published 09/22 2013 12:14AM

Updated 09/22 2013 12:21AM

UNIVERSITY PARK - On a day that featured a steady rain for much of the game, the Penn State football team used a stout defensive performance and gained 463 yards of total offense en route to a 34-0 win over Kent State Saturday at Beaver Stadium. The win marked the first shutout for the Nittany Lions since a 24-0 win over the Golden Flashes on Sept. 18, 2010.

The Nittany Lions were dominant on the ground, racking up 287 rushing yards. Akeel Lynch (Toronto, Ontario) paced the effort with a career-best 123 yards on 14 carries for his second career 100-yard rushing game. Zach Zwinak (Frederick, Md.) had 65 yards and found the end zone three times for the second-straight game to raise his season total eight TDs. He is the first Nittany Lion to have back-to-back games with three or more touchdowns since Evan Royster accomplished the feat during the 2008 season (Coastal Carolina and Oregon State). Bill Belton (Sicklerville, N.J.) also provided a spark on the ground for the Nittany Lions with 90 yards on 13 carries.

Sam Ficken (Valparaiso, Ind.) connected on a pair of field goals, including a career-long 54-yarder. The 54-yard field goal is tied for the fourth-longest field goal in school history, behind a trio of 55-yard kicks by Chris Bahr, and is the longest in a home game for a Nittany Lion. It is also the longest field goal for a Penn State player since Herb Menhardt hit a 54-yard field goal against NC State in 1979.

Christian Hackenberg (Palmyra, Va.) threw for 176 yards and connected with Belton on a touchdown pass. Allen Robinson (Southfield, Mich.) had three catches for 43 yards, while Brandon Felder (Fort Washington, Md.) pulled in three passes for 35 yards.

Defensively, Glenn Carson (Manahawkin, N.J.) had seven tackles, including two for a loss, to lead the Nittany Lions. Ryan Keiser (Selinsgrove, Pa.) was stellar in the secondary as he nabbed his first career interception to go along with four tackles, a sack and three pass break-ups. Deion Barnes (Philadelphia, Pa.) also had six tackles and a half-sack for the Lions.

After Penn State went three-and-out on its first drive, the Golden Flashes started their first drive on the Penn State 36. Kent State advanced the ball to the Nittany Lions' 14-yard line before Anthony Melchiori missed a 31-yard field goal wide right with 10:23 left in the first quarter.

The squads exchanged possessions as they battled a pounding rain. The Nittany Lions took over on their own 13 and put together a solid drive that featured 78 yards passing from Hackenberg, highlighted by a 29-yard pass to Kyle Carter (Bear, Del.). On third and goal from the 15-yard line, Hackenberg found Belton, who made a nifty move to break away from the defender and dove into the end zone for the touchdown with nine seconds left in the opening frame. It was Belton's second reception of the year and the second touchdown catch of his career (Ohio; Sept. 1, 2012).

The Nittany Lion defense held strong and forced another Kent State punt but were once again pinned deep in their own zone at the 18-yard line. Hackenberg started the drive with a 17-yard pass to Felder and Belton clicked off 42 yards rushing on four carries to get the ball to Kent State seven. Hackenberg hooked up with Jesse James (Glassport, Pa.) for a five-yard gain before Zwinak capped the drive with a two-yard run for his sixth touchdown run of the season for a 14-0 lead.

Neither team could get their offense going after halftime until a pair of pass deflections by Keiser led to the third three-and-out in the second half for the Penn State defense. The Golden Flashes' punt gave the Lions the ball at their own 49-yard line. Belton was the work horse for the Nittany Lions on the drive as he rushed for 33 yards before giving way to Zwinak, who bowled his way into the end zone from one yard out to give Penn State at 21-0 lead with less than five minutes left in the third quarter.

The Golden Flashes moved the ball into Penn State territory on their next drive, but the Nittany Lion defense held strong and forced the punt and a touchback. Lynch reeled off 72 rushing yards on seven carries on the drive, including a 43-yard jaunt, leading to a 25-yard field goal by Ficken and a 24-0 lead for Penn State with 13:12 left in the game.
After another three-and-out for Kent State, the Lions took over and kept it rolling on the ground as Lynch ran for 39 yards on three carries to open the drive. After Hackenberg found Adam Breneman (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) for 27 yards to move the ball deep into KSU territory. Lynch and Zwinak tag-teamed for the final 22 yards with Zwinak finding paydirt for the third time today to make it a 31-0 lead for the Lions. With the score, Penn State improves to a perfect 15-for-15 on the season in red zone conversions, including 12 touchdowns in its last 13 visits.

Von Walker (Mill Hall, Pa.) ran for 10 yards in Penn State's next drive that resulted in a career-long 54-yard field by Ficken to seal the 34-0 win for the Nittany Lions.

The Nittany Lions have a bye next weekend before heading to Indiana on October 5. Penn State returns to Beaver Stadium for a Homecoming match-up with Michigan on October 12 at 5 p.m.

--Penn State Media Relations

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