Penn State 26, Central Florida 24 (Saturday August 30 in Ireland)
Penn State kicked off its season in Ireland with a last-second 36-yard field goal off the foot of Sam Ficken to seal a 26-24 victory over Central Florida. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg started off the 2014 year with a record performance. The Penn State signal caller threw for 454 yards in the game, breaking Zack Mills’ single-game school record of 399.
Head coach James Franklin starts off his Penn State coaching career 1-0, led by a very young receiving corps. Geno Lewis and DaeSean Hamilton had over 160 yards apiece, a feat no other Penn State duo has ever accomplished. Hamilton (RS Fr.) set freshman receiving records with 11 catches for 165 yards in his Nittany Lions debut.
UCF quarterback Justin Holman stepped in the game after halftime and made the game very interesting. Holman gave UCF the lead with 1:13 in the fourth after a 6-yard touchdown scramble. All hope for 1-0 start seemed dim, but Hackenburg was on another level and drove PSU down to set up Ficken, whose kicking troubles are well noted, but he nailed the kick to clinch the victory. Outshined by the offense and last-second field goal, the Penn State defense was very stout allowing only 246 total yards, recording two sacks and seven tackles for loss against the Knights’ offense.
Senior captain linebacker Mike Hull led the way with 11 tackles and DT Anthony Zettel added a trio of tackles for a loss as he attempts to fill the shoes of Daequan Jones.
Penn State heads home looking to open the team’s slate of home games against Akron at Happy Valley this Saturday.
Photo: Steve Flynn/USA Today Sports