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Hackenberg leads Penn State over Indiana

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Christian Hackenberg threw for 262 yards, two touchdown passes, ran for two more and ‪#Penn State‬ beat Indiana 29-7.

STATE COLLEGE - Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg carried his team to a touchdown, twice. Later, he carried his team to a 29-7 victory over Indiana on 21 completions, 262 yards and two rushing touchdowns.

What started out as an even match up between the two O-line’s gave way to a Penn State breakaway. The Nittany Lions used their starting quarterback to their advantage in both finding receivers and making independent decisions himself.

Late in the second quarter, Hackenberg completed the longest run of his career with 22 yards, leading to his first touchdown carry of the game seconds later to make the halftime score 19-7.

At halftime, Hackenberg had more rushing yards (28) than Indiana’s leading receiver (27) and eclipsed for the 200 yard mark for the 17th time in his career.

“Being a threat to run the ball, it causes headaches,” Franklin said. “It’s a pain. You drop back and have everyone covered and now the quarterback is willing to pull it down and go get you a first down. If a quarterback can get two first downs a game with his legs, you’re going to be in a really good position and Christian was able to do that today.”

Besides the running plays, hackenberg has been a mere shadow of the shaky, sack-prone man was a year ago.

“Took a little lesson from Matt McGloin,” Hackenberg said of his second, diving touchdown. “Today I was able to get a feel for running the ball. What was asked of us this week, we bought into it. We executed it, we were able to pull out a win. What’s going to be asked of us next week, we’re going to buy into that.”

Penn State kicker Joey Julius had a hard time finding the net against the Hoosiers as he missed two of his three extra point opportunities.

“He missed two extra points, so you put the next guy in,” Franklin said on replacing Julius with a backup Penn State kicker, Tyler Davis.

But the Penn State O-line graciously provided Julius some breathing room as the extra points were deemed unnecessary from the Lions’ comfortable lead.

Penn State’s receivers began the game with a case of the butterfingers, as neither Chris Godwin or Mark Allen could find a tight grip on the ball. Hackenberg had plenty of coverage for a clean look at his options, but was forced to overcome a couple of fumbles in order to make a complete pass.

Hackenberg hit Brandon Polk in the endzone for the Lions’ first touchdown, but the Hoosiers answered right back by finding the paint off a handful of small, but tight running plays, knotting the score up at 7 apiece at the end of the first frame.

“We were more creative, we weren’t just being predictable,” DaeSean Hamilton said of Penn State’s O-line. “The first play of the game, we took a deep shot down there and not many teams expect that to happen off the first play of the game. It was just us giving the guys more opportunities and opening things up for the whole defense.”

Either the sunny homecoming weekend atmosphere from over the 97,000 supporters in attendance, or the brevity of the intense match up would not allow Indiana to hold the score for very long.

Penn State broke away from Indiana in the second frame, as Hackenberg’s receivers finally found their footing and completed their intended passes with great effort.

Prior to Saturday’s game, Indiana scored 58 points in the third quarter through five games. But Penn State held the Hoosiers without a single foot in the endzone for the entire quarter. The Lions also did not see the paint in a calm and lulled third quarter.

“We just wanted to play as ugly football as we possibly could for four weeks so we could save that up this week,” Franklin said on finally playing in sunny weather for a change.

The fourth and final frame began with an exceptionally rare but incredible interception by John Reid, allowing the Lions to start the drive from their own 48 yard line. After back-to-back passes from Hackenberg to Kyle Carter, Penn State impeded any chance of an Indiana comeback from its fourth touchdown of the game, which also resulted from a five yard run by Hackenberg.

The Lions successfully worked their way up the field on Saturday afternoon to give their fans a homecoming weekend victory. Prior to Penn State, Indiana lost a tough, but close match to Ohio State-- the Lions' next opponent in the Big Ten.

“In football, it’s a any given Saturday and Sunday type of thing,” Hamilton said. “Doesn’t necessarily mean us beating Indiana means we can beat Ohio State by however less margin. We just have to go in and worry about us, not worry about how anyone else did against them and do our job.”

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