UNIVERSITY PARK - Quarterback Christian Hackenberg (Palmyra, Va.) totaled three touchdowns and wide receiver Allen Robinson (Richland, Mich.) passed Bobby Engram for second all-time on the program's career receptions list, as Penn State football fell to Nebraska, 23-20, in overtime at Beaver Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Nittany Lions fell to 6-5 overall (3-4 Big Ten) in their home finale, while Nebraska improved to 8-3 (5-2 Big Ten).
The Nittany Lions got the ball to start overtime. After two runs by Zach Zwinak (Frederick, Md.) and an incomplete pass to Robinson, Sam Ficken (Valparaiso, Ind.) missed a 37-yard field-goal attempt. On Nebraska's offensive possession, Pat Smith connected on a 47-yard attempt to seal the victory.
Hackenberg, who added a seven-yard rushing touchdown, completed 16-of-33 passes for two touchdowns and an interception. The Palmyra, Va., native notched his fourth multi-touchdown game this season, while Zwinak rushed for his 10th career 100-yard game with 149 yards on 35 carries.
Robinson finished the game with 169 career receptions, moving him past Bobby Engram (167) for second all-time at Penn State. The standout wide receiver finished the contest with eight receptions for 106 yards.
The Nittany Lions outgained the Huskers by a 387-360 margin. Penn State held the advantage in both passing yards, 217 to 192, and rushing yards, 170 to 168.
The Penn State defense forced three fumbles, recovering two. Senior linebacker Glenn Carson (Manahawkin, N.J.) led the unit with 10 tackles, while linebacker Mike Hull (Canonsburg) and safety Malcolm Willis (Marbury, Md.) each had nine stops. Cornerback Jordan Lucas (New Rochelle, N.Y.) contributed eight tackles.
Defensive end C.J. Olaniyan (Warren, Mich.) and defensive back Adrian Amos (Baltimore, Md.) each got a sack. Olaniyan, Willis and freshman linebacker Brandon Bell (Mays Landing, N.Y.) all forced a fumble.
After both teams traded punts through the first 10:38 of the game, Penn State struck first on a two-yard touchdown pass from Hackenberg to fellow freshman tight end Adam Breneman (Mechanicsburg). On first-and-goal from the Nebraska four-yard line, Hackenberg handed off to Zwinak for a two-yard gain. On the next play, the Nebraska defense bit on a play action to the right side by Hackenberg, who rolled left and found Breneman, who caught a touchdown for the second straight week, for a diving catch in the end zone with 33 seconds left in the quarter. Ficken's extra-point attempt hit the right upright and did not go through, keeping the score at 6-0.
With 13:14 left in the first half, the Cornhuskers answered with a touchdown drive of their own to take a 7-6 lead. Quarterback Ron Kellogg III made his first appearance of the game, replacing starter Tommy Armstrong, Jr. Kellogg III completed all four of his pass attempts on the drive, with the last hitting Quincy Enunwa over the middle as Enunwa took the ball 27 yards to the end zone. The drive lasted seven plays for 91 yards in 2:19.
Early in the third quarter, Kellogg III dropped back as Penn State's Olaniyan came around the left side of the line and stripped Kellogg III from behind. The ball rolled to the Nebraska eight-yard line, where Olaniyan fell on it with 11:17 left in the quarter. The fumble was the third that Olaniyan forced this year.
The Nittany Lion offense took advantage as Hackenberg, on second-and-goal, fooled the Husker defense with play action to the left side. Hackenberg slipped out to the right and sprinted toward the corner pylon and in for the score. Ficken's point-after gave Penn State the 13-7 lead with 10:47 remaining in the third quarter.
Nebraska's Kenny Bell would not let that lead hold for long as he took the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for the score. The Huskers reclaimed the lead on Pat Smith's PAT. With 1:16 left in the third quarter, Nebraska extended its lead on a 39-yard field goal by Smith. The kick capped a nine-play, 30-yard drive to hold a 17-13 advantage.
The Nittany Lions answered on a 46-yard touchdown reception by tight end Jesse James (Glassport). The sophomore slipped out to the left side as Hackenberg hit him in stride. James took the ball up the sideline, fought off a push attempt by safety Corey Cooper and tiptoed his way to the end zone. Ficken's extra point put the Lions up, 20-17, with 14:50 in the fourth quarter.
Nebraska tied the game, 20-20, with a 19-yard field goal by Smith with 4:29 remaining. However, the field goal came after Penn State kept the Huskers out of the end zone after Nebraska got down to the Penn State one-yard line. On first-and-goal, Imani Cross was stuffed by Hull and DaQuan Jones (Johnson City, N.Y.). After a false start by Nebraska moved them back to the six, Kellogg III ran for a yard on second down. On third down, Kellogg III tried another run, but was met at the one-yard line by Hull and Bell, who stripped Kellogg III. Nebraska recovered the ball, but was forced to kick the field goal.
Penn State finishes its 2013 campaign next Saturday (Nov. 30) against No. 19 Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium. The game will kick off at 3:30.
--Penn State Athletic Communications