College Football: Penn State 52, Akron 0 - D1SportsNet


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College football

Penn State 52, Akron 0

Sixth-ranked Penn State opened the 2017 season in dominant fashion with a 52-0 win over Akron on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pa.

The Nittany Lions (1-0) led 35-0 at halftime as their offense, defense and special teams all contributed to the blowout.

DeAndre Thompkins began the onslaught with a 61-yard punt return touchdown midway through the first quarter, the first of two scores in the opening period that also included a 13-yard TD pass from junior quarterback Trace McSorley to senior tight end Mike Gesicki.

McSorley was intercepted in the end zone on Penn State's first drive before rebounding to throw for 280 yards on 18-of-25 passing and two touchdowns. He also ran for 48 yards and a TD, giving him more than 300 yards of total offense for the sixth time in his career and fourth in the past six contests.

The Nittany Lions' first offensive points were set up by their defense as junior cornerback Amani Oruwariye intercepted Akron's Thomas Woodson at the Penn State 25-yard line. The Nittany Lions responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped by Gesicki's score.

Gesicki, who had five TDs in 2016, caught two scoring passes from McSorley and finished with six receptions for 58 yards.

Junior running back Saquon Barkley had two second-quarter touchdowns runs to finish with 172 yards rushing on 14 carries and three catches for 54 yards. He was robbed of a third scoring run that would have gone for 87 yards had he not been ruled out at the 7-yard line, but two plays later McSorley found the end zone on a designed draw from 4 yards out for a 21-0 lead midway through the second.

Akron (0-1) dropped its fifth straight game after losing the final four of 2016 en route to a 5-7 record. The Zips didn't cross into Penn State territory until the first drive of the second half and ended up with just 159 yards of offense while allowing 569.

Woodson struggled in his first game since offseason surgery on his right (throwing) shoulder. The senior was 12 of 23 for 71 yards with an interception and was sacked twice.

Akron's run game managed only 73 yards on 34 carries, with 27 coming from Ohio State graduate transfer Warren Ball and 39 from freshman quarterback Kato Nelson in relief of Woodson.