STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak rushed for a pair of touchdowns each, Christian Hackenberg threw for 179 yards and Penn State defeated Massachusetts 48-7 on Saturday.
Penn State (4-0), which needed late-game drives to win two of its first three games, displayed a run-pass balance for the first time this season during its first-ever game against UMass (0-4).
The Nittany Lions punted on their first possession but kicked two field goals and scored six touchdowns on their next eight. It was the most points Penn State scored since a 52-3 win over Eastern Illinois on Oct. 10, 2009.
Akeel Lynch rushed for 81 yards on eight carries while Belton’s 76 yards came on seven rushes.
Penn State rushed for 228 yards on 45 attempts and its defense allowed just three rushing yards.
UMass quarterback Blake Frohnapfel was 17 of 33 for 263 yards and a touchdown.
The 4-0 start for the Lions is the first since the 2008 team ran off nine straight wins. James Franklin became the first Penn State coach to start 4-0 in his inaugural since Dick Harlow in 1915.
Things didn’t start easily for Hackenberg and the Lions. The sophomore completed just three of 10 passes before heating up to go 8 of 12 during the Lions six touchdown drives.
Penn State scored more points (34) in the first half than it did in any of its previous three games and scored 28 points in the second quarter — the most since November 2009 against Michigan State.
Penn State’s first scoring drive was 15 plays and 53 yards and ended with a 42-yard field goal by Sam Ficken, his first kick over 40 yards this season. Ficken moved into seventh place on Penn State’s all-time scoring list with 207 points.
Ficken followed that with a 40-yarder on a quick five-play drive keyed by Lynch’s 46-yard sweep around right end, the longest run from scrimmage this season for Penn State, for a 6-0 lead.
Belton enabled Penn State to establish control half way through the second quarter when he took a quick pitch from Hackenberg, swept left and cut back for a 24-yard touchdown run.
Penn State linebacker Mike Hull forced a Tajae Sharpe fumble that Austin Johnson recovered at the Massachusetts 20. After an incomplete pass, Belton took a direct snap, headed left again and raced in for a 20-yard score.
Then it was Zwinak’s turn for back-to-back touchdowns. A 38-yard pass from Hackenberg to Lewis, along with a UMass off sides penalty, set up Penn State at the 5 and Zwinak found the middle open for a touchdown.
The Lions forced another UMass punt, Hackenberg connected with Hamilton for 35 yards and Lewis for 11 more to set up a Zwinak plunge from the 1 and a 34-0 lead.