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Penn State snaps losing streak with win over Hoosiers

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Bill Belton scored on a 92-yard run and the Penn State defense overcame another shaky offensive performance to beat Indiana 13-7, snapping a four-game losing streak.

Much like its last four games, Penn State’s matchup with Indiana was a low-scoring, field-position affair, but unlike those previous games, it finished with the Nittany Lions ahead. The Lions (5-4, 2-4 Big Ten) snapped a four-game losing streak with a 13-7 victory over the Hoosiers (3-6, 0-5 Big Ten) on Saturday in Bloomington, spurred by a lights-out defensive effort and a running game that showed up for the first time since September.

The defense did not allow a point on the day and held prolific Hoosiers’ running back Tevin Coleman to just 72 yards on 20 carries. Anthony Zettel also chipped in a sack and the unit as a whole had 10 tackles for a loss.

“What we wanted to do is what we’ve done all year long,” Lions coach James Franklin told reporters after the game. “That’s make people one dimensional and stop the run. That’s something that we’ve been able to do. ... We were really gap-sound. We were aggressive. We were able to get off blocks and we were able to stop a good rusher.”

Hoosiers’ quarterback Zander Diamont rushed for 84 yards, but was 13-of-27 with just 68 yards. With under three minutes to go in the contest, up 10-7, Nyeem Wartman turned in the defensive play of the game when he intercepted Diamont to set up a late Sam Ficken field goal. The kicker was good from 27 and 28 yards on the day, but also had a 23-yard attempt blocked in the first half. The Hoosiers got their lone score of the day when Christian Hackenberg was intercepted by Mark Murphy, who jumped a wide receiver screen from the quarterback and took it 47 yards to the end zone in the second quarter.

Hackenberg finished 12-of-29 with 168 yards and threw another interception to Greg Gooch in the fourth quarter. Both of his turnovers came on screen passes.

“Maybe [the interceptions are] based on the protection and the fact that we’re having to call so many screens to try to get the ball out of his hand quickly,” Franklin said.

Geno Lewis was the leading receiver for the Lions, hauling in just four catches for 39 yards, but it was the running game that carried the offense. Although he didn’t get the start, Bill Belton led the Lions with 16 carries for 137 yards on the ground and gave the team its only score when he ripped off a 92-yard touchdown on the Lions’ first play after Murphy’s pick-six Belton took a handoff and went straight up the gut and found open field before out-running two defenders down the sideline for the score. The run was the longest Penn State touchdown from scrimmage in program history.

“I loved it,” Franklin said. “We ran a very similar play that we’ve run all year long, but we just did it from a different look. Going 92 yards, the whole time I was just willing him into the end zone.”

Akeel Lynch also had 47 yards on 13 carries, capping off a total of 162 rushing yards for the Lions. After getting back in the win column, Franklin called the victory the “prettiest” victory he has seen in 20 years.

“It’s a W,” Franklin said. “We’re going to enjoy wins around here. After some of the emotional games that we’ve had, we’ll take 25 more of these. We’ll take as many as we can get.”

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