The Eastern Michigan University football team failed to manufacture an offensive touchdown as it dropped its first game of the season to the Penn State University Nittany Lions, 45-7 at Beaver Stadium in University Park, PA.
“We didn’t score any [offensive] points,” EMU head coach Ron English said. “That’s the biggest thing because in these games you got to score points and we were not able to put any pressure on the opponent [as a result].”
Senior cornerback Mycal Swaim who caught an interception in the loss talked about the outcome.
“Off the bat, we were doing good,” Swaim said. “Then, we gambled on a couple of blitzes and they [got] us one time. We won a couple of them, but when you blitz, you [got] to know both sides of the coin.”
With the loss, the Eagles are now 0-48 all-time against Bowl Championship Series schools.
Junior tight end Tyreese Russell had an outstanding game for EMU (1-1), catching eight passes for 73 yards, both career highs.
The second leading receiver was freshman tight end Duwhan Alford with three catches for 16 yards. The running game was unable to build any type of consistency as junior Bronson Hill only gained 38 of the team’s 61 yards on the ground.
Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Benz completed 17-of-26 passes for 115 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
After a slow start, Penn State freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg got things going as he went 23-of-33 passing for 311 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception. His 311 yards passing set the all-time freshman record for a quarterback at Penn State.
Junior Bill Belton led the Nittany Lions attack as he rushed nine times for 108 yards and scored two touchdowns, while sophomore Akeel Lynch recorded 108 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Junior wide receiver Allen Robinson caught seven passes for 129 yards and a touchdown in his first full game of the season for Penn State (2-0).
Sophomore linebacker Hunter Matt returned a fumble from Hackenberg 11 yards to the end zone for an early 7-0 lead.
Four of the six Eagle possessions in the first half managed to make it past midfield, but the offense failed to move it any further down the field.
Big plays from the Nittany Lions hurt the Eagles on the next pair of drives, as a 43-yard pass from Hackenberg to Robinson to set up a two-yard touchdown run from junior Zach Zwinak to tie the score.
On PSU’s next drive, the Nittany Lions went 68 yards capped off by another rushing touchdown, this time by Belton to give Penn State its first lead of the game at the start of the second quarter.
The Eagles had a chance to cut the lead down to 14-10, but the 42-yard attempt by sophomore place-kicker Dylan Mulder missed wide right. This was the second failed field goal attempt in the game, following an earlier attempt from 45 yards, where the snap was fumbled by redshirt sophomore quarterback/holder Mark Iannotti.
Penn State then used the good field position to set up a 39-yard field goal attempt from junior Sam Ficken, which was good, extending PSU’s lead to ten at halftime.
Failure to get into scoring position continued to hurt the Eagles as the team only gained one first down the entire second half and punted seven times.
That lack of production from the EMU offense eventually led to the defense wearing down in the second half and allowing the Nittany Lions to control the tempo for the rest of the game, putting the game far out of reach.
Eagles strong safety Donald Coleman was suspended for the first half because of a shot to the head of quarterback Greg McGhee in last Saturday’s game against Howard University.
EMU will look to bounce back next week as the team heads back on the road to face the Rutgers University Scarlett Knights (1-1). The game will begin at 1:00 on ESPN3.
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @EasternEchoGeno.