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Penn State QB makes history in Croke Park Classic

Christian Hackenberg

Not even Kerry Collins, Todd Blackledge or Michael Robinson did what Penn State’s sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg accomplished Saturday in the Croke Park Classic against the UCF Knights.

Hackenberg is the first quarterback in Penn State history to throw for 400 yards or more in a single game as he lead the Nittany Lions to a thrilling 26-24 victory over the Knights in Dublin, Ireland.

The sophomore finished 32-of-47 passing for 454 yards. The performance was highlighted by a game-winning drive. Hackenberg was 4-of-6 passing for 47 yards during the final 1:13 of the contest to set up the winning field goal by senior kicker Sam Ficken.

During the performance, pundits were drooling over the potential which Hackenberg represents. Hackenberg forced a couple of throws which resulted in interceptions, but those poor throws didn’t take away from the fact he was the best player on the field. This was simply a great performance to build upon a resume that may result in Hackenberg becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 or 2017 NFL draft.

And Penn State capitalized on the talent it has behind center.

Once the team couldn’t establish the run early in the game, the onus fell on Hackenberg to carry the team. He was clearly able to do so. The young signal caller was able to evade pressure in the pocket, make throws on the move and manipulate UCF’s secondary to complete a beautiful 79-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Geno Lewis to give the Nittany Lions a 20-10 lead entering the fourth quarter.

Lewis finished with 173 receiving yards. Redshirt freshman DaeSean Hamilton was nearly as good with 11 receptions for 165 yards.

For UCF, head coach George O’Leary waited far too long to make a crucial change at quarterback.

Redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo started the game and struggled mightly. DiNovo was a paltry 3-of-8 passing for 18 yards in the first half. O’Leary then inserted Justin Holman into the lineup during the third quarter, and the sophomore brought instant energy to the lineup. Holman led the Knights to 21 points in the second half with 204 passing yards. He added a pair of touchdowns, one passing and one running. Holman had his team in a position to win with 1:13 remaining, but the Knights’ defense simply couldn’t hold.

Despite the outcome, the two teams learned something equally important about their quarterbacks.

Penn State quickly came to the realization it must rely heavily on Hackenberg this season as the offensive line continues to gel and the running game struggles. UCF, meanwhile, will almost certainly move forward with Holman behind center, and the Knights will be a better team for it.

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16 Responses to “Penn State QB makes history in Croke Park Classic”
  1. pricecube says: Aug 30, 2014 12:22 PM

    I think Franklin is going to have a great deal of success at Penn State.

  2. navyeoddavee9 says: Aug 30, 2014 12:24 PM

    We Are Penn St!!

  3. pawloosa says: Aug 30, 2014 12:57 PM

    First time in history to throw for 400 yds????
    That’s funny!!

    Well…. Let me be the first to say welcome to the 20th and 21st century Penn State!!


  4. youcantmakemepickausername says: Aug 30, 2014 1:06 PM

    Happy with the win, but also happy that the UCF QB that played the second half didn’t play the whole game, because the result may have been different. O’Leary and his staff obviously know far more about football and their players than I do, but not sure what they saw during spring practice and summer camp that had them starting the first guy over Holman.

    And on an unrelated note, did someone at ESPN say “hey, the game is in Ireland, so someone go find me ten seconds of Irish sounding music that we can play EVERY SINGLE TIME we go to commercial”.

  5. PSGalex says: Aug 30, 2014 1:11 PM


    If only Hackenberg could have as many 400 yard games as you, my friend!

  6. scoochpooch says: Aug 30, 2014 1:12 PM

    Couple of things:
    1) With rules hampering defensive contact and substitution, it is relatively easy to throw for 400 yards now.
    2) Please don’t give any credit to Penn State or the QB for their final minute comeback; this is an unwritten rule in football these days, the team with the ball last will win. I don’t know if its due to prevent defense or choking but this usually rings true.

  7. jec332 says: Aug 30, 2014 1:15 PM

    Great game by UCF. I wish them well with the rest of their season. Let’s go Penn State!

  8. lbijake says: Aug 30, 2014 1:18 PM

    @scoochpooch, to put it mildly you are an idiot. Unwritten rule last team with ball wins. Again, I can only state, you are an idiot. There is a written rule that the team with the most points at the end of play wins.
    Agree with comments about idiotic use of Irish music. Game was a showcase of two really good QBs. Be nice to see the Ireland game become a tradition to start the season.

  9. navyeoddavee9 says: Aug 30, 2014 2:29 PM

    Good game, good atmosphere, definitely can see Dublin hosting more games, my only complaint, 5:30 am west coast start time

  10. Ian's Rushtache says: Aug 30, 2014 2:41 PM

    Geez Dave.

    30 years in the Navy, and all you can do is cry for the last few weeks about the start time. I would think a military man would have no issue being up by 5:30.

  11. dcroz says: Aug 30, 2014 2:43 PM

    Great win for Franklin to start his career at PSU, but on that final drive he showed he still has maturing to do as a HC. He lost a few games at Vandy because he made silly calls or seemed indecisive in crunch time, and that final drive saw him engage in some questionable clock management. It all worked out in the end, sure, but he’s going to rival Les Miles for “most losses from bad clock management” if he isn’t careful.

  12. navyeoddavee9 says: Aug 30, 2014 4:00 PM

    Retired Navy, like to “sleep in” till about 7am, these days, but honestly 530am, makes no sense for a west coast start time for a football game, the bars are not open yet!

  13. sladewillson says: Aug 30, 2014 5:12 PM

    Penn State needs to badly work on tackling space.

  14. navyeoddavee9 says: Aug 30, 2014 5:19 PM

    If you mean “tackling in space” it’s the first game, tackling will improve each game

  15. psuorioles says: Sep 2, 2014 10:34 AM

    The PSU running game has problems every time they try to run with Zwinach… I don’t know why th coaching staff continues to use him, when Belton is the better RB….

  16. dmoney666 says: Sep 2, 2014 1:05 PM

    The problem is that they need to work on protecting the kid. He’s taken way too many hits the past year and has the knee brace to show for it. He got clocked a couple of times on Saturday, too.

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