STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Raheem Mostert caught the ball inside the goal line, broke through a hole around the 5 and bolted down the middle and straight into Purdue’s end zone for an electrifying 100-yard kickoff return touchdown.
The run jolted the Boilermakers into a frenzy and put a Big Ten win within reach.
It gave us a lot of energy on the sideline, coach Darrell Hazell said. We held the energy for a substantial amount of time.
Just not as long as the Boilermakers needed.
Zach Zwinak ran for 149 yards and three touchdowns, and Bill Belton rushed for 89 yards and a score, all part of Penn State’s 289-yard, five-TD running attack, leading the Nittany Lions to a 45-21 win over Purdue on Saturday.
Zwinak had a pair of 1-yard TD runs in the first half and a 5-yard score in the second, boosting his season total to 12.
Just moving the ball helps the team, Zwinak said. It gets everybody going and gets the fans excited. Just as long as we’re moving the ball.
The Nittany Lions moved it, and Purdue couldn’t stop it.
The guys believed, but you have to get them stopped, you really do, Hazell said.
Allen Robinson’s fifth catch of the game was his 78th of the season, setting Penn State’s single-season receptions mark. Robinson, who had eight receptions for 98 yards, topped the 77 catches he had last season. He holds Penn State’s season records for catches (81) and yards (1,204).
Christian Hackenberg threw a touchdown pass and ran for one to help the Nittany Lions (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten) clinch at least a .500 record. The Nittany Lions are still suffering from the sanctions the NCAA levied in the Jerry Sandusky scandal and are not eligible for a bowl game.
The 1-2 backfield combination of Bill Belton and Zwinak each rushed for scores in the first quarter for the 14-0 lead.
Zwinak scored his second TD to capitalize off Danny Etling’s interception on the potential tying drive, and Hackenberg’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Adam Breneman helped Penn State build a 28-14 halftime lead.
Mostert answered Hackenberg’s score with a 100-yard kickoff. Etling had a 2-yard TD pass to Justin Sinz in the first second quarter.
Purdue had just 1 yard rushing in the first half; Penn State had 182.
You’d like to be able to get them stopped, Hazell said. Some of those first- and second-down runs, you can’t let them hit them for 8 and 9 yards and put them in third-and-1 situations. We have to go back and keep working on things we can get better at. That’s the only thing you can do at this point.
Etling’s 11-yard rush sliced the deficit to 28-21 early in the third, giving the Boilermakers hope they could end their lengthy conference losing streak.
Penn State crushed that thought with two more scores in the third. Sam Ficken kicked a 29-yard field goal and Zwinak’s third touchdown of the game made it 38-21.
The Boilermakers were simply too sloppy to mount a true upset bid, committing three turnovers, including a lost a fumble late in the fourth, leading to Hackenberg’s 4-yard scramble to make it 45-21.