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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg (Palmyra, Va.) accounted for all four touchdowns and became the second in school history to surpass 7,000 career passing yards, as he lead the Nittany Lions past Indiana, 29-7, in Big Ten football action on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Beaver Stadium.
The Penn State (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) defense was also strong, holding Indiana's (4-2, 0-2 Big Ten) league-leading offense, which was averaging 498.2 yards per game entering the contest, to just 234 yards and a first-quarter touchdown. Senior defensive end Carl Nassib (West Chester, Pa.) registered two sacks and two forced fumbles, as the Lions totaled four sacks - one more than Indiana had allowed prior all season. Defensive tackle Austin Johnson (Galloway, N.J.) also recorded a sack and was one of three Lions with nine tackles.
Through two Big Ten games, the unit has yielded just 10 points, making it the best two-game start defensively by Penn State since joining the conference in 1993. The defense has now also held its opponents to seven points or fewer in the first half of 12 consecutive games, including eight consecutive games against Big Ten opponents.
Hackenberg used both his arm and his legs to move the ball downfield. He completed 21-of-339 passing attempts for 262 yards and two touchdowns, while setting career-highs rushing with two more touchdowns, 21 yards and a career-best 22-yard run. Wide receiver Chris Godwin (Middletown, Del.) was his top target with four catches for 14 yards, while fellow receivers DaeSean Hamilton (Fredericksburg, Va.) and Brandon Polk (Ashburn, Va.) both caught 39-yard touchdown passes. Hackenberg targeted eight different receivers in the contest.
The Lions used seven different ball carriers to total 154 yards rushing on 32 attempts. Nick Scott (Fairfax, Va.) and Mark Allen (Hyattsville, Md.) had eight carries each, with Scott totaling a career-best 57 yards and Allen totaling a career-best 45.
Indiana quarterback Zander Diamont led the Hoosiers in the air with nine completions on 17 attempts for 90 yards, and also led on the ground with 11 rushes for 38 yards and the team's lone touchdown. However, he left the game in the third quarter and freshman Danny Cameron completed 6-of-16 passes for 65 yards with one interception in relief. Ricky Jones was the game's leading receiver with five catches for 59 yards.
Marcus Oliver paced the Indiana defense with a game-high 13 tackles, while Nick Mangieri and Zack Shaw recorded two sacks each.
Hackenberg did most of his damage in the first half, throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for one. He completed 12-of-23 passing attempts for 186 yards, while rushing five times for 28 yards.
Both teams scored touchdowns in the first quarter. Penn State struck first on its third offensive drive, taking advantage of an Indiana personal foul that negated a lost fumble on third-and-10 from Penn State's own 36.
The penalty moved the Nittany Lions to the Indiana 49, and they scored two plays later. Hackenberg threw a short pass to Scott out of the backfield for 10 yards, and then Polk used his speed to get behind the Hoosiers' secondary for a 39-yard touchdown reception - the first of his career - with 7:35 remaining in the first quarter
Indiana would answer on its ensuing possession, driving 65 yards on eight plays for a game-tying touchdown. Diamont moved Indiana into Penn State territory with a 10-yard rush, and then after a rushing attempt for no gain, connected on passes of 14 and 17 yards on consecutive plays to reach the PSU 12. He called his own number on the next play and rushed to the right for a touchdown with 4:11 remaining in the quarter.
Indiana caught Penn State off guard with an onside kick and kept the ball on offense, but the Nittany Lion defense forced a three-and-out - one of six on the day. Penn State took over at its own 7 and drove 50 yards on seven plays into Hoosier territory, but Allen failed to hold on to a hand off and fumbled the ball away with four seconds remaining in the opening quarter for the Lions' first lost fumble on offense this season.
Penn State's defense continued to hold, and the Lion offense found the end zone again on its second drive of the second quarter after starting at its own 20. Allen rushed for a career long 28 yards, and Hackenberg connected with Godwin for 14 yards to the IU 38-yard line. Allen lost a yard on his next carry, but Hackenberg found Hamilton down the right side for a 39-yard touchdown completion with 5:40 remaining in the half. The extra point attempt was no good, giving Penn State a 13-7 lead.
After an Indiana three-and-out, highlighted by Johnson's sack for a loss of 10 yards, Hackenberg used his legs to key Penn State's next touchdown drive. Hackenberg used a 9-yard rush to advance to Indiana's 35 and, one play later, a 22-yard rush to Indiana's 6. One play later from the 1, he ran around the right end untouched into the end zone with 36 seconds remaining in the half. The extra point try attempt failed again, and Penn State took a 19-7 lead into the halftime break.
The defenses ruled the third quarter, as Penn State was held to just 29 yards and Indiana was unable to get into scoring range despite 118 yards of offense. Anthony Zettel (West Branch, Mich.) deflected a pass at the line on fourth-and-3 from the Penn State 34 with 2:40 remaining in the frame to end its best chance.
Indiana regained possession late in the third after a Penn State three-and-out, but cornerback John Reid (Mount Laurel, N.J.) intercepted a dropped pass at the Penn State 48. The play led to a seven-play, 52-yard touchdown drive that Hackenberg capped with a 5-yard run and dive into the end zone. A 21-yard completion to Kyle Carter (Bear, Del.) on third-and-3 from the Indiana 45 kept the drive going.
Nassib's second sack and forced fumble doomed Indiana's next possession, and DeAndre Thompkins (Hubert, N.C.) returned a 39-yard punt from the IU 8 19 yards to the 28, leading to a 30-yard field goal from Tyler Davis (St. Charles, Ill.) for the final margin.
The win allowed Penn State to close the first five-game homestand in Beaver Stadium history and the first since 1922 with a perfect 5-0 mark. The Nittany Lions are 15-0 in three all-time five-game homestands and 5-0 at home for the first time since 2008. The five-game winning streak is their longest since 2012.
Penn State will hit the road for its next two games, first traveling to Columbus for a primetime 8 p.m. tilt televised on ABC against No. 3 Ohio State Saturday. The Lions will then meet Maryland in Baltimore's Ma&T Back Stadium the following Saturday before returning to Happy Valley to host Illinois on Halloween.
To purchase tickets or for information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit PSUnrivaled.com, call 1-800-NITTANY or visit the Bryce Jordan Center ticket office weekdays from 10 a.m-6 p.m.