Franklin embraces Hackenberg, who threw for a PSU record 454 yards in Penn State’s 26-24 victory over UCF.
By Annie Ross
And Saturday morning in Dublin he experienced the joy of victory.
Ficken hit a 36 yard field goal as time expired and James Franklin won his debut for the Nittany Lions in a 26-24 victory over Central Florida. Christian Hackenberg threw for 454 yards in the victory, which was the most passing yards in a single game in Penn State history.
Penn State started the scoring on a Zach Zwinak 1 yard touchdown run. Both teams traded field goals to end the first half at 10-3 in favor of Penn State. The Nittany Lions had a over 200 yards of total offense in the first half compared to Central Florida who had less than 100.
The second half would prove to be nothing like the first in every way. Sam Ficken hit his second field goal of the game over midway through the third quarter to give Penn State a 10-point lead at 13-3.
Central Florida responded with a 70 yard drive, which was capped off when Justin Holman ran the ball in from a yard out. Penn State wasted no time in responding, as Hackenberg found a wide open Geno Lewis behind the defense for a 79 yard touchdown. Just like that, the score was 20-10 at the end of three quarters.
Central Florida answered right back when Justin Holman threw a 10 yard touchdown to Josh Reese. UCF was set up when Holman found J.J. Worton for a 46 yard completion and Penn State was called for roughing the passer on the same play.
There were then three turnovers in four plays, as Hackenberg threw an interception, Holman lost a fumble, and then Chris Godwin fumbled for Penn State. Nothing came out of the final turnover by Penn State.
Ficken added his third field goal of the day to give the Nittany Lions a 23-17 advantage heading into the final minutes.
Central Florida was down to a 4th and 10 on the next series and Holman came through in a big way. Holman threw a 37 yard bomb to Josh Reese, which he caught at the Penn State 6 yard line. On the next play, Holman ran in from 6 yards out to take a 24-23 lead with only 1:13 left on the clock.
Hackenberg converted a 4th and 3 from his own 33 yard line before finding Bill Belton and Geno Lewis for three straight completions to the UCF 19-yard line. That set up Sam Ficken for his fourth field goal of the day.
Ficken, the Nittany Lions and coach Franklin went wild as the kick went through. It brought an exciting game to a worthy ending.
Hackenberg had 454 yards passing by completing 32 of 47 attempts. He threw 1 touchdown pass, but also had 2 interceptions. Lewis caught 8 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown while DaeSean Hamilton added in 11 catches for 165 yards. Penn State finished with 511 yards of total offense.
Central Florida’s offense came alive when Holman entered the game. He finished with 9 of 14 passing for 204 yards and 1 touchdown. Central Florida struggled to run the ball with only 24 yards on 27 carries. J.J. Worton was the leading receiver with 83 yards on 5 catches. Breshad Perriman had 81 yards on 3 catches as well.
Ficken hit all four of his field goals. He hit from 22, 24, 33, and 36.
Penn State will face MAC opponent Akron next Saturday. Central Florida will have next week off before traveling to Missouri to take on the Tigers on September 13.