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Saturday, November 16, 2013

Penn State vs Purdue Game Review: Nittany Lions Use Ground Game To Run Over Boilermakers

     The Nittany Lions came out of the gate fast, scoring touchdowns on their first two offensive possessions with runs from Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak, respectively, to give Penn State an early 14-0 lead. On Penn State's first two plays alone, the Nittany Lions accumulated 141 yards of offense thanks in part to their ground attack.  Purdue would score early in the 2nd Quarter to cut the lead in half. Bill Belton, who fumbled the ball on the very first play of last week's game against Minnesota, coughed up the ball and the Boilermakers recovered. On the ensuing possession for the Boilermakers, Penn State Cornerback Jordan Lucas, picked off Purdue Quarterback Danny Etling to give the ball right back to the Nittany Lions after the Bill Belton fumble.

                                                                                        (AP Photo/Gene J Puskar)
                                               Adrian Amos had success getting into the backfield, recording 1.5 sacks

     Penn State started on the Purdue 33 after the turnover. After an incompletion on the first play following the turnover, Penn State would put the ball into Zwinak's hand for 5 carries for 33 yards en-route to his 2nd TD of the day to put the Nittany Lions back up by 14! Penn State's defense caused a lot of problems up front for the Purdue offensive line. Adrian Amos would sack Etling on a cornerback blitz, with DaQuan Jones following up with one of his own, forcing the Boilermakers to punt when they had it 2nd and 3 prior to the stops in the backfield by the Nittany Lion defense!

     Penn State's ground game at up till this point was the main reason for Penn State's success, the Nittany Lions would start to open up the passing game a bit more. On the ensuing Nittany Lions possession after their big defensive stop, Christian Hackenberg connected on five passes, and the fifth being an 8 yard hookup for a TD pass with Freshman Tight End Adam Breneman. (his first of the season and career!) That put the Nittany Lions in control with a 28-7 lead. However, Purdue did not take long to respond as Raheem Mostert blew into the open field on the ensuing kickoff and took it to the house for 100 yards for a Boilermakers TD, cutting Penn State's lead in half once again. And despite having all three timeouts left with 1:05 remaining in the first half, Penn State elected to not risk any chances and ran the clock up to head into the locker room up by two scores. (Personally I would have taken a couple of shots down field to try and put Sam Ficken and a decent position for a manageable Field Goal attempt)

                                                                                        (AP Photo/Gene J Puskar)
                                                                    Zach Zwinak now has 12 Rushing TD's for the season

     The Boilermakers came out for the 2nd half with momentum on their side and hoped to build on it after the long kickoff return for a TD. Purdue would do just that as they drove the ball into the endzone on just seven plays as Quarterback Etling capped off the drive with an 11 yard run to pull the Boilermakers within a TD. Suddenly the Nittany Lions, who were once up by 21, found themselves in a close game with all of the momentum appearing to shift towards the Boilermakers. While Penn State managed to get all the way down to the Purdue 12, their 5th trip in the Boilmakers redzone. Prior to that, Penn State scored a TD each time they got inside the Purdue 20. The Boilermakers however were able to prevent the Nittany Lions from getting in the endzone this time around, forcing Penn State to settle for a FG. A huge victory for the Boilermaker defense, as even more momentum began to appear shifting towards Purdue. All of that though was quickly thrown out the window when Defensive End Deion Barnes strip sacked Etling and Defensive Tackle Austin Johnson recovered the loose ball at the Purdue 40! The Nittany Lions would once again get back down inside the Purdue redzone at the Boilermaker 17. Penn State continued with its ground attack going back to Zwinak three straight plays with the third carry resulting in another Penn State TD (Zwinak's 3rd of the day) putting the Nittany Lions up 38-21 over the Boilermakers.

                                                                                    (AP Photo/Gene J Puskar)
           Jesse "The Outlaw" James catches a pass from Christian Hackenberg that went for 58 yards in the 3rd Quarter

     Penn State now had complete control as the defense caused problems for Purdue and its Quarterback throughout the remainder of the game, getting to him three more times in the backfield, (6 total sacks for the game) while Penn State continued to use its power running game from Zach Zwinak, contributing another 43 yards (149 total for the game) on the ground of Penn State's final scoring possession that was capped off with a 4 yard scramble from Christian Hackenberg to increase the Nittany Lions lead to 45-21 as that would hang on to be the final outcome, and Penn State improved its record to 6-4 (3-3) while Purdue falls to 1-9 (0-6).

     For Penn State, the Nittany Lions have two games remaining, with next weeking being "Senior Day" (Penn State's final home game) before they wrap up their 2013 season when they travel to play the Badgers of Wisconsin on November 30.


- Allen Robinson recorded his 161st reception of his career, tying him for 3rd all time with Derrick Williams, and is 4th in school history for most receiving yards with 2,246.

- Zach Zwinak's registered 3 Rusing TD's in a game for the third time this season

- Penn State went 10 for 12 (83.3%) on 3rd Down

-  Penn State had 289 yards on the grounds versus Purdue's 41!

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