Penn State football: Nittany Lions never recover from early interception

For the CDTOctober 27, 2013 

Penn State's Christian Hackenberg fumbles the ball while being sacked by Ohio State's Noah Spence in the first half of the Nittany Lions’ loss to the Buckeyess


— The Penn State offense had some work to do.

Nittany Lion players watched Ohio State's offense march 75 yards on seven plays to open the game with a touchdown at Ohio Stadium on Saturday night.

So the Nittany Lions went to work. They ran 11 plays, ate up just over 4:35 before a mistake doomed the most promising opening drive of their season.

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg dropped back and fired down the middle for Adam Breneman. The ball arrived a bit behind the true freshman tight end and Corey "Pitt" Brown was there to intercept it.

"That hurt," Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said. "I don't know if that would've changed the outcome but I think it would've helped a little bit. ... We got it in there pretty good and then we threw the pick. Probably could've called a better play there but it would've been nice to have the touchdown there."

There were few bright spots for the Nittany Lion offense from that point on. Hackenberg was pressured and hit often and was injured on a dead-play hit by Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa. Hackenberg tried to continue on but exited the game in the third quarter and had his throwing shoulder wrapped over his shoudler pads.

Although he threw a touchdown to Brandon Felder to cut Ohio State's lead to 28-7 in the second quarter, it was a rough night for Hackenberg and the offense.

Penn State was outgained 686 to 357 and turned the ball over three times, punted six more times and gave up four sacks.

Save for a few runs from Bill Belton and a 65-yard touchdown catch from Allen Robinson in the fourth quarter, the highlights were few and far between for the Nittany Lions. Robinson hauled in a pass from Tyler Ferguson and raced back across the field to cap the scoring with 7:33 to play.

Belton made his first start of the season and was a force on most of his runs. He finished with 98 yards on 22 carries - the most yards the Buckeyes have given up on the ground all season.

Belton averaged 4 1/2 yards per carry. Akeel Lynch saw his first action on offense in two games and ran for 35 yards on 11 carries.

"I would rather get a win than have the game I had tonight," Belton said. "It’s not just about one person. It’s about wins and losses. I’d much rather have the win."

Zach Zwinak lost a fumble for the second consecutive game and Ohio State didn't take long to take advantage. The Buckeyes needed just two plays on a short field and took a 49-7 lead on a 26-yard pass from Braxton Miller to Dontre Wilson.

"We didn't execute the best we have all season," center Ty Howle said. "We've got to play better than that against a great opponent like Ohio State. We'll watch the film and learn from it."

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