Hackenberg earns second Athlon Sports National Freshman of the Week honor

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Athlon Sports has selected Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg (Palmyra, Va.) as its National Freshman of the Week for the second time this season after he led the Nittany Lions to a 31-24 win at No. 14 Wisconsin on Saturday.

In addition, Athlon Sports selected head coach Bill O’Brien as its Big Ten Coordinator of the Week and Hackenberg as the conference’s Freshman of the Week for the fifth time this season. The record-setting freshman also earned Athlon’s national honor after leading Penn State to a 43-40 four overtime win over Michigan on Oct. 12.

Hackenberg threw for 339 yards, one off his season-high and a season-best four touchdown passes to lead the Nittany Lions to the big win over the Badgers in the regular season finale. The starting signal-caller in every game this season, he was 21 of 30, did not throw an interception, and was not sacked.

Led by Hackenberg and a stellar defensive performance that limited Wisconsin to 120 rushing yards, 177.8 yards below its season average, Penn State beat a Top 15 team for the first time since a victory over No. 13 LSU in the 2010 Capital One Bowl. The Nittany Lions earned their first Top 15 road win since beating No. 9 Ohio State in 2008.

Hackenberg directed Penn State to 465 yards against the Badgers (second only to 468 yards by Arizona State), who entered the game ranked sixth nationally in total defense at 278.5 ypg. He threw for 339 yards against the nation’s ninth-best passing defense, as the Badgers entered the game allowing 179.4 passing yards per game. The Nittany Lions’ 31 points were just one away from the season-high allowed by Wisconsin, which was No. 5 in scoring defense at 13.4 ppg.

Under Hackenberg’s direction, Penn State delivered the four longest plays from scrimmage against Wisconsin all season. He threw completions of 68, 52 and 59 yards, two for scores, and Zach Zwinak (Frederick, Md.) ran for a 61-yard burst late in the game. Prior to the game, a 51-yard pass by Illinois had been the longest play allowed by the Badgers all season.

“We were taking advantage of our receivers running great routes and getting open and they went up and made plays,” said Hackenberg. “And the offensive line protected enough for me to push the ball down the field. This was probably the most emotional game that I’ve played. It meant a lot to me and a lot to the team. I can’t be more proud of the guys.”

Hackenberg’s best game as a Nittany Lion got off to a fast start. On the game’s fourth play, he connected with freshman tight end Adam Breneman (Mechanicsburg) on a 68-yard touchdown pass, Penn State’s longest play from scrimmage this season. Hackenberg also connected with junior wideout Allen Robinson (Southfield, Mich.) on a 52-yard completion in the first quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, Hackenberg hit freshman wideout Geno Lewis (Wilkes-Barre) in stride on a 59-yard scoring strike to give Penn State a 31-14 lead. He has 14 completions of 40-plus yards this season.

Hackenberg posted his ninth 200-yard passing game this season, moving into third on the Penn State single season list, trailing only Kerry Collins (10, 1994) and Matt McGloin (11, 2012). He also moved into a tie for eighth on the career 200-yard list with Todd Blackledge (1980-82) and Wally Richardson (1992, 94-96).

For the season, Hackenberg is 231 of 392 for 2,955 yards, with 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten in completions (231), his 20 touchdown passes are one away the Big Ten lead, and he is 0.5 yds from being No. 2 in passing (246.2 ypg).

Hackenberg's 339 yards gave him 2,955 yards for the season, moving into third place on the Penn State single-season chart. He passed Anthony Morelli (2,651 yards) and Kerry Collins (2,679) vs. Wisconsin and trails only Oakland Raiders signal-caller Matt McGloin (3,266, 2012) and Daryll Clark (3,003 in 2009) on the season list.

Hackenberg’s 231 completions rank fourth at Penn State in a season, one behind Daryll Clark’s 232 completions in 2009 for third.

Penn State finished the season with a 7-5 mark, and has won 15 of its last 22 games under second-year coach O’Brien.

For information on joining the Nittany Lion Club and purchasing 2014 season tickets, as well as club seating in Beaver Stadium, fans can visit www.GoPSUsports.com/tickets or call 800-NITTANY from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays.

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Last Updated December 02, 2013