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Penn State-Syracuse Live Blog: Final: Penn State 23, Syracuse 17

by on August 31, 2013 12:50 PM

Fourth Quarter: 

Hackenberg is 19-of-26 for 199 yards. He has been sacked a few times today but has opted to take the sack rather than force a throw, an unconventional show of maturity. After missing the first half, Allen Robinson has six catches for 115 yards.

Penn State settles for another field goal attempt and Ficken nails the 46-yard attempt to give the Nittany Lions a 16-10 lead. Ficken has now hit 13 straight field goals. The 46-yard kick is Ficken's career long. Meanwhile Hackenberg can be the 27th quarterback in Penn State history to break the 200 yard mark in a game, needing a single yard for that total.

Della Valle has a nice 31-yard punt return to give Penn State the ball at just about midfield. Penn State's special teams has been key this year after not being much of a positive factor last season

Hackenberg gets his single yard and more, a 54 yard bomb to Geno Lewis puts the Nittany Lions up 23-10. Hackenberg is now 20-of-27 for 253 yards. Zack Mills has the freshman single game passing record with 280 yards.

Good, but still young, Hackenberg throws an interception and it is picked-off and returned to goal line. The Orange punch it in and we have a six point game. Looks like a dramatic 6:58 coming up.

Penn State gets the ball back but a somewhat predictable run on third and short is stuffed and will give Syracuse about five minutes to try and find the endzone.

The Nittany Lions struggle to move the ball following more runs. O'Brien doesn't seem like he's interested in putting any more pressure on his freshman quarterback. The Orange get the ball back with just over two minutes to go but the pass is intercepted and Penn State will win. 

Third Quarter:

Starting soon. O'Brien notes to TV audience that Hackenberg hasn't mentioned his wrist to him despite getting some brief treatment. No update on Lehman who left the game with a left knee injury. Penn State will kick to open the half.

Attendance is announced as 61,202 which seems accurate despite a mostly half-full upper deck.

Penn State with some nice secondary work with Lucas and Amos both breaking up passes. The Nittany Lions will start with the ball just inside the 25, Hackenberg under center.

Allen Robinson with a bubble screen catch and a long gain. Hackenberg targets Robinson again for a 51-yard catch and run for Penn State's first touchdown on the day. An impressive two play span by both players and smart play-calling by O'Brien.

Syracuse responds with a two play 65-yard strike that cut the Nittany Lion lead to three once again. Teams are often the most vulnerable after scoring and that was the case this time. Malcolm Willis now leads the team with seven tackles.

Penn State goes three-and-out. ABC is reporting on TV that Mike Hull will not return to the game.

Both teams trade short drives with the ball but a pass interference call on a sure touchdown pass to Robinson continues Penn State's drive. Hackenberg connects on a 18-yard pass to Robinson but the ball is stripped out and recovered by Syracuse but reviewed. The replays are hard to distinguish as Robinson being down and the ruling on the field stands.

Penn State's defense stands and a 43-yard field goal attempt is wide left. The Nittany Lions struggle to move the ball and punt it away with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Stephen Obeng intercepts a pass and Penn State will take over with only 28 yards to go for a score after a personal foul, late hit penalty moves the ball up 15 more yards. Mistakes like that can cost you the game, even more so when the score is so low.

Halftime Thoughts And Stats:

Overall it's what you might have suspected from a young quarterback driven team. Hackenberg was given easy passes to make and outside of one bad throw looked poised and ready to go. Given that he has only operated the offense for a few weeks it isn't a surprise O'Brien isn't throwing the playbook at Syracuse. With Zwinak getting a nice push from the offensive line O'Brien hasn't needed to rely on passes to move the ball. It'll be interesting to see how that ratio holds in the second half.

The defense has done a good job improving as the game went along and Syracuse has had less success generating medium yardage plays.

Hackenberg is 11-of-15 for 69 yards, six different players have caught passes from the true freshman.

Zwinak had 13 carries for 52 yards.

Allen Robinson will play in the second half per O'Brien.

DaQuan Jones and Malcolm Willis both lead the team with five tackles.

Second Quarter: 

While on the sideline Hackenberg took time to speak with both Robinson and Zwinak. He has also been stretching his right wrist and received some sort of basic treatment during the timeout between quarters. Hackenberg had been shaking out that same wrist prior to the game.

Mike Hull left the field briefly but has returned as well.

Ben Kline makes a nice play on a reverse by Syracuse. A player with a lot of potential on defensive unit in need of a few more big time players. Kline's play is key to Penn State's ability to hold Syracuse to only a field goal. 3-0 with 12:32 to go.

Tight end Matt Lehman looks to have hurt his left knee while turning mid route. Is carted off the field.

Lehman's injury and a false start ends Penn State's drive. Syracuse will get the ball just inside Penn State's side of the field. A defensive play would be big for the Nittany Lions here.

A poor long snap by Syracuse results in a 17-yard loss and Penn State's ball in Syracuse territory. Hackenberg throws his first interception only three plays later. A good example of the difference between college and high school with younger defensive backs not being able to make the play made by the Syracuse defender.

Syracuse gives the ball right back though fumbling and giving Penn State the ball on the 50.

Penn State gains a first down on a fourth down fake field goal attempt. The kick would have been 47 yards. Holder, Ryan Keiser ran the ball up the middle on a play Penn State used last season. Ficken eventually gets his chance and nails a 36 yard attempt from the right hash.

Penn State has done a good job adjusting to Syracuse's attack and the Orange have had less success on the outside of the defense than before.

Zwinak had six carries in the first quarter and has done a good job keeping his legs moving during the second quarter behind an offensive line that has gotten a better push up front as the game goes along.

Penn State settles for a field goal after several nice runs. Ficken knuckle-balls a kick and makes it to give Penn State a 6-3 lead with a minute to go in the half. The kick wasn't the prettiest but a 35-yard make nevertheless.

First Quarter:

 LB Glenn Carson and G John Urschel are Penn State's captains for today's team. Penn State will start the game with the ball after losing the coin toss.

A false start to open the game backs Penn State up but a 5-yard pass to Zwinak gets Hackenberg on the stat sheet. Penn State goes for it on fourth down and converts. The drive stalls eventually but not without a strong opening performance from Hackenberg who went 3-for-3 for 29 yards and no real mistakes. Allen Robinson did not see the field on the opening drive.

Syracuse is able to drive the ball but is eventually stopped. Drew Allen opened the game for the Orange going 4-for-4 for 32 yards.

Penn State starts with the ball well inside its own area. Hackenberg continues his strong start and is now 6-of-7 for 36 yards. Receiver Matt Zanellato has taken over Robinson's role for the time being.

Syracuse is having success attack the outside of Penn State's defense and avoiding the pass rush. The drive stalls and Penn State is able to stop a fourth down attempt by Syracuse on Penn State's 37 yard-line. 

Tyler Ferguson will take over the offense on Penn State's third drive of the game.

Ferguson completes an 18-yard pass to Zanellato but fumbles on the next play while preparing to throw the ball. 

Zwinak: 20 yards rushing on six carries.

Hackenberg: 6-of-7 for 36 yards 

Zanellato: Two catches for 21 yards.


Welcome everyone to MetLife Stadium. Penn State and Syracuse will open their respective seasons today with a 3:30 kick. Gates won't open until later in the afternoon but a full media contingent covering both programs is already settling in. The parking lots around MetLife Stadium are already filling up for what looks to be a good crowd.

Nittany Lion players took the field in sweatpants and shirts around 12:42 along with defensive line coach Larry Johnson Sr and defensive coordinator John Butler. Kicker Sam Ficken spent some time lining up some potential field goal attempts before heading off the field with his teammates.

To answer a FAQ on twitter, Penn State is considered the visiting team so it'll be white uniforms today.

Syracuse players have hit the field for some basic warm-ups in shorts and shirts around 1:30. Judging by the orientation of field logos Penn State's bench will be shown on the top of your TV screen. A few players for Penn State are on the field but not many.

Penn State players take the field at 2:30. Names are --as expected-- still on the jerseys. Hackenberg and Ferguson sharing a laugh together while talking to quarterback coach Charlie Fisher. Both look loose and ready to go for today's action. Hackenberg has been shaking out his hands but doesn't look as though it's anything other than preparation and a pregame routine.

-Check back here throughout pregame and the entire game for observations and analysis of the Nittany Lions' season opener.-

Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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