PENN STATE 23, SYRACUSE 17
New York’s College Classic
at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
Penn State`0`6`7`10` — `23
Syracuse`0`3`7`7` — `17
SU — Ross Krautman 32-yard field goal, 12:32. Drive: 8 plays, 28 yards, 3:20. Analysis: Bill O’Brien indeed gets an early look at both of his quarterbacks with Christian Hackenberg starting and going 6-for-7 on two drives. Tyler Ferguson gets in for the third drive but has the ball simply slip out of his hands for a fumble that Syracuse scoops up at the PSU 43. The Orange convert a long third down to get into field goal range but the Lions hold from there as Krautman scores the season’s first points. SYRACUSE 3, PENN STATE 0.
PSU — Sam Ficken 36-yard field goal, 5:59. Drive: 9 plays, 30 yards, 2:53. Analysis: Penn State gets some life from special teams as a low snap skips back to Orange punter Jonathan Fisher. That gives defensive lineman Carl Nassib — brother of prolific former Syracuse quarterback Ryan — a shot at bringing him down for a loss of 17. Syracuse answers right back, however, as Hackenberg throws his first career interception. Stephen Obeng-Agyapong responds by causing a turnover of his own, ripping the ball away from the Orange at the end of a play. The Lions initially converted a fake field goal on a run by holder Ryan Keiser, but Syracuse holds from there to set up a real kick. SU 3, PSU 3.
PSU — Ficken 35-yard field goal, 0:55. Drive: 9 plays, 41 yards, 4:00. Analysis: Penn State begins to assert itself as the half comes to an end, shutting down Syracuse’s work-in-progress offense and getting some traction in the trenches. Tailback Zach Zwinak starts grinding out yards as Hackenberg continues to subsist on a diet of designed screens and short passes. It’s enough to get the Lions back into field goal range, but Bill Belton trips over John Urschel’s foot on a third-down run and Ficken is called on again. The junior converts for his 12th straight make, dating back to last season. PSU 6, SU 3.
PSU — Allen Robinson 51-yard pass from Christian Hackenberg (Ficken kick), 11:46. Drive: 2 plays, 76 yards, 0:34. Analysis: It’s pretty simple. Allen Robinson is very, very good. The reigning Big Ten Receiver of the Year sat out the first half for disciplinary issues. On his first snap in the third quarter, Robinson lined up in the slot and took a screen pass 25 yards. On the next play, his man bit hard on a Hackenberg pump fake and Robinson came as wide open as he ever has been. The pass was underthrown, but Robinson still had plenty of time to scoop it up, accelerate to full speed and weave through the rest of the defense for the score. NFL talent on display. PSU 13, SU 3.
SU — Jerome Smith 10-yard run (Krautman kick), 11:05. Drive: 2 plays, 65 yards, 0:41. Analysis: Not to be outdone, Syracuse immediately hits its first deep ball of the game on the next play from scrimmage. Safety Malcolm Willis can’t keep Jeremiah Kobena in front of him, and the wideout comes up with a 55-yard catch at the Penn State 10. Smith rumbles off left tackle on the very next play and a stunned Lions defense doesn’t lay a finger on him as he waltzes into the end zone. PSU 13, SU 10.
PSU — Ficken 46-yard field goal, 14:16. Drive: 4 plays, 15 yards, 1:50. Analysis: The redemption of Ficken continues. Though he had that great streak to close out 2012, all of his field goals were under 40 yards. Bill O’Brien shows faith in the junior on this one and he responds with a career-best kick that gives the Lions a slight cushion and prevents the Orange from starting with good field position. PSU 16, SU 10.
PSU — Eugene Lewis 54-yard pass from Hackenberg (Ficken kick), 11:39. Drive: 1 play, 54 yards, 0:08. Analysis: A year ago, Lewis may not have made this play. But the improved technique he gained from a redshirt season helped him deftly streak past a Syracuse safety and run under the bomb from Hackenberg, tracking it down at the goal line for an electrifying score. It’s the first Penn State touchdown by a Wyoming Valley Conference alum since fullback Paul Jefferson (GAR) caught an 8-yard score from Zack Mills on Nov. 9, 2002 against Virginia. PSU 23, SU 10.
SU — Smith 1-yard run (Krautman kick), 6:58. Drive: 1 play, 1 yard, 0:03. Analysis: Syracuse’s defense gets the Orange right back in it. O’Brien has Hackenberg throwing on third-and-long with the Lions trying to kill clock, and the Orange confuse the freshman with a zone blitz. With pressure coming from the corners, defensive end Robert Welsh quietly drops back into coverage and Hackenberg never sees him as he tries to get rid of the ball. Welsh nabs the interception and jaunts down to the Lions 1, where Smith deposits it in the end zone on the next play. PSU 23, SU 17.