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Robinson Punished, Then Punishes Syracuse

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Wide receiver Allen Robinson had seven receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown after sitting out the first half in a 23-17 win over Syracuse. Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson had seven receptions for 133 yards and a touchdown after sitting out the first half in a 23-17 win over Syracuse. Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images.

Allen Robinson made a pair of mistakes this weekend.

One, an unspecified team rule violation, cost him the first half of Penn State’s season opener against Syracuse. The other was a 23-yard gain to the defense’s 27-yard line.

Otherwise, he was the spark that led Nittany Lions to a 23-17 win after the offense mustered only 85 yards passing and six points in the first half.

On Penn State’s first play in the second half, a screen to Robinson produced 25 yards up the middle of the field. Robinson beat the defense for a 51-yard touchdown on the next play, doubling Christian Hackenberg’s passing totals in less than a minute.

Hackenberg, a true freshman five-star recruit out of Fort Union Military Academy, had a shaky first start that still showed his potential.

Hackenberg showed off his arm on a 54-yard post route to Geno Lewis for the game-winning touchdown in the third quarter, but he also threw two interceptions less than 10 yards downfield, one that led to an Orange touchdown. He was 22 of 31 passing for 273 yards with a pair of touchdowns and interceptions.

Penn State’s offense showed several flaws that included converting on just 1 of 16 third down conversions, gaining just 1.5 yards per rush and committing four turnovers.

Penn State’s defense held Syracuse to just one drive of more than 33 yards.

Defensive tackle DaQuan Jones, who lost 15 pounds in the offseason to be more athletic, led the Nittany Lions defensive line with four tackles, two for a loss and a sack.

Penn State’s starting cornerbacks, Trevor Williams and Jordan Lucas, played key roles in defending multiple deep passes by Syracuse transfer Drew Allen, who finished the game 17 of 38 with 191 yards passing and two interceptions.  

Williams and back-up safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong each picked off Allen in the second half.

Penn State kicker Sam Fickens converted three field goal attempts from 35, 36 and 46 yards, extending his consecutive field goal streak to 13.