After overcoming a 10-point deficit, Penn State rallied late in the second half to a 13-10 victory over Rutgers on Saturday night.
Gary Nova went 15 for 30 for 192 yards with five interceptions, ultimately costing Rutgers a 10-point lead and tarnishing their Big Ten debut. Go-to running back Paul James was held to only 51 yards on 10 carries, while top wide receiver Leonte Carroo caught six passes for 84 yards.
Christian Hackenberg came to life in the second half, finishing the night at 25 of 44 for 309 yards. Wide receiver Geno Lewis had 109 yards receiving, and DaeSean Hamilton caught eight passes for 103 yards. Running back Bill Belton tacked on 88 yards and the game-winning touchdown for Penn State.
Rutgers had nine penalties, while Penn State forced five turnovers, two of which were interceptions by cornerback Trevor Williams.
Nova managed to lead an 80-yard drive that he ended with a 14-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. A 32-yard field goal by Kyle Federico with 12 seconds left in the half gave the Scarlet Knights a 10-0 lead by halftime.
A 32-yard field goal by Sam Ficken cut Rutgers lead to 7. Another field goal in the early fourth quarter narrowed the lead to four. After finding Geno Lewis for a 53-yard gain, Belton had the green light for an easy 5-yard touchdown, improving Penn State to 23-2 all time against Rutgers. Rutgers leads the nation in blocked kicks with 38 since 2009.
Penn State ended the week on a high note with Saturday’s win, after the NCAA dropped its most severe on-field sanctions from the Jerry Sandusky scandal, making the Nittany Lions eligible for postseason play this year. Despite their debut ending in a loss, Rutgers should see this as practice for all future Big Ten opponents.
*Section Photo credit to Alex Goodlett, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Onward State