Scores

Final

E Michigan 7

(1-1, 0-1 away)

Penn State 45

(2-0, 2-0 home)

Coverage: BTN

12:00 PM ET, September 7, 2013

Beaver Stadium, UNIVERSITY PARK, PA

1 2 3 4 T
EMU 7 0 0 07
PSU 7 10 7 2145

Top Performers

Passing: C. Hackenberg (PSU) - 311 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: B. Belton (PSU) - 9 CAR, 108 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: A. Robinson (PSU) - 7 REC, 129 YDS, 1 TD

Christian Hackenberg, Penn State reach 2-0 after rout

Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Even with Beaver Stadium's glaring deserted sections, thousands of "We Are" chanting fans and a home opener still gave Christian Hackenberg some early jitters.

His first scattershot passes sailed way off the mark. He lost a fumble.

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

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 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.

And he made a big impression on fans needing a reason to back the program.

"There's a big, big difference than walking in there empty," Hackenberg said. "They try to simulate it with some noise. Nothing compares."

After the running game stumbled in the season opener vs. Syracuse, Zwinak broke through for a pair of short scores. Belton added a 51-yard touchdown run in the fourth and had 108 yards rushing. Akeel Lynch added a 27-yard scamper in the fourth and also had 108 yards rushing.

Penn State's Sam Ficken set a school record with his 14th straight field goal, a 39-yarder that closed the first half.

Eastern Michigan (1-1) scored off a fumble to avoid the shutout.

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.

He started 0 for 3, and was 1 for 5. He was sacked and fumbled. Then he turned his game around.

Hackenberg hit Robinson, who had 129 yards receiving, for a 43-yard gain down to the 8-yard line. Zwinak carried a couple of defenders on him as he stormed into the end zone for a 2-yard run that tied the game at 7.

Lost in the excitement of Hackenberg's debut last week, was a backfield performance that had coach Bill O'Brien taking blame for the poor effort. No need for apologies after this one.

Zwinak had a 20-yard run in the third, then scored two plays later on a 7-yard burst for a 24-7 lead.

Belton had a 5-yard scoring run in the second, then charged into the end zone with an open field 51-yard burst down the middle that put the Nittany Lions' faithful on their feet.

Led by Belton and Lynch, Penn State powered its way to 251 yards rushing.

"It took a little while to get it going," O'Brien said, "but it was nice to see `em get it going."

The committee approach was a booming success.

"Not one person is going to take them all," Zwinak said. "When it's not your turn, you're there for the guy. You're cheering him on. As soon as he comes to the sideline, you're talking about what they're seeing. Blitzes? It's a great thing to share with these guys."

Penn State announced more than 92,000 fans were at Beaver Stadium, though it was far from full and there were scores of empty sections in the upper levels. O'Brien had stumped around the state asking fans to continue to support the program and fill the stadium every Saturday during this period of transition for the Nittany Lions.

But the crowd is still large enough to awe a freshman QB -- at least, for a few series.

"You could take 5,000 recruiting trips here," O'Brien said, "but it ain't like playing here. I thought he was amped up."

Not even the return of the 1973 undefeated team could spark a full house. Penn State honored more than 50 members of the squad that capped a perfect 12-0 season with an Orange Bowl win against LSU but failed to win the national championship.

There was a huge ovation for John Cappelletti, the 1973 Heisman Trophy winner. In a surprise move, Penn State retired his No. 22. He talked to the team in the Penn State locker room after the victory.

Missing, of course, was former coach Joe Paterno. Paterno, who died in 2012, still looms large in Happy Valley. An electronic billboard on the way to town flashed "409 Forever," in honor of his win total.

In his second season, O'Brien seems to have won over the die-hards, even though not all of them showed up Saturday. He was greeted to a rousing ovation from fans who lined the entrance to the stadium. He popped off the team bus thrusting his fists and pointing at the early risers who came out to greet the team.

And the result in his second home opener was much different from a disheartening loss to Ohio last year on Labor Day weekend.

Ficken went 3 for 3 last week and kicked one more field goal against the Eagles to set the Nittany Lions record.

And 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.

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

"The defense was on the field a lot," Eagles safety Mycal Swaim said. "We were on the field more than we've been this year.

"We just got tired."

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Team Stat Comparison

 
EMU
PSU
1st Downs1125
Total Yards183574
Passing122323
Rushing61251
Penalties2-85-46
3rd Down Conversions3-161-10
4th Down Conversions0-12-2
Turnovers02
Possession31:4328:17

Passing Leaders

Eastern MichiganC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Benz17/261154.400
Penn StateC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Hackenberg23/333119.411

Rushing Leaders

Eastern MichiganCARYDSAVGTDLG
Hill13382.9013
Jackson8192.405
Penn StateCARYDSAVGTDLG
Lynch131088.3127
Belton910812.0251

Receiving Leaders

Eastern MichiganRECYDSAVGTDLG
Russell8739.1018
Alford3165.307
Penn StateRECYDSAVGTDLG
Robinson712918.4145
Felder6569.3023

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTEREMUPSU
TD04:01Hunter Matt 11 Yd Fumble Return (Dylan Mulder Kick) 70
TD01:41Zach Zwinak 2 Yd Run (Sam Ficken Kick) 77
SECOND QUARTEREMUPSU
TD14:08Bill Belton 5 Yd Run (Sam Ficken Kick) 714
FG00:17Sam Ficken 39 Yd 717
THIRD QUARTEREMUPSU
TD02:09Zach Zwinak 7 Yd Run (Sam Ficken Kick) 724
FOURTH QUARTEREMUPSU
TD12:25Allen Robinson 45 Yd Pass From Christian Hackenberg (Sam Ficken Kick) 731
TD09:47Bill Belton 51 Yd Run (Sam Ficken Kick) 738
TD04:26Akeel Lynch 18 Yd Run (Sam Ficken Kick) 745

Research Notes

Christian Hackenberg had 311 passing yards vs Eastern Michigan, setting the Penn State record for passing yards in a game by a freshman. The previous record was 280 set by Zack Mills vs Ohio State and vs Southern Mississippi in 2001.

ESPN Stats & Information