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updated: 9/21/2013 6:31 PM

Zwinak scores 3 TDs as Penn State shuts out Kent State

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  • Penn State running back Zach Zwinak tries to elude Kent State defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix in the first half of Saturday's game in State College, Pa.

      Penn State running back Zach Zwinak tries to elude Kent State defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix in the first half of Saturday's game in State College, Pa.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- This time running back Zack Zwinak's three touchdowns counted in a Penn State victory.

Zwinak had 65 yards rushing and scored three times for the second straight week in leading the Nittany Lions (3-1) to a 34-0 win over the Kent State Golden Flashes. All three of Zwinak's scores came from inside 2 yards for Penn State, which bounced back from a 34-31 loss to Central Florida.

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Bill Belton had 90 yards rushing and scored on a 15-yard catch for Penn State, which now gets an extra week off before opening its Big Ten Conference schedule against Indiana on Oct. 5.

Penn State improved to 10-3 in its past 13 games. And coach Bill O'Brien is off to a better start after opening his first season last year at 2-2.

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg went 13 of 35 for 176 yards with a touchdown and interception. The freshman had difficulty finding his rhythm on a sloppy day during which rain fell for much of the afternoon.

Safety Ryan Keiser had four tackles, a sack and a key interception that came one play after Hackenberg was picked off by Dylan Farrington to give Kent State the ball at midfield midway through the third quarter.

Kent State (1-3) lost its third straight game since opening the season with a 17-10 win over Liberty. The Golden Flashes' offense lacked spark without its top threat, running back Dri Archer, who continues to be hampered by an injury to his left ankle. After playing sparingly in a 45-13 loss at LSU last week, Archer did not play against Penn State.

Quarterback Colin Reardon finished 12 of 28 for 100 yards passing and an interception as Kent State was limited to 190 yards offense and nine first downs. He was also yanked for the first possession of the second half in favor of senior David Fisher, before returning for the following series.

The Golden Flashes dropped to 0-10 against Big Ten opponents, and fell to 0-4 against Penn State. The Mid-American Conference team has now been shut out in consecutive games against the Nittany Lions following a 24-0 loss at Happy Valley in 2010.

Penn State combined for 287 yards rushing, including a career-best 123 by Akeel Lynch. The Nittany Lions have now totaled 731 yards rushing in their past three games.

Belton opened the scoring by capping a nine-play, 87-yard drive by diving into the end zone to convert a third-and-goal from the 15.

Belton then helped set up Zwinak's next two scores. That included a nifty 28-yard run that eventually led to Zwinak's 2-yard plunge 5-1/2 minutes in the second quarter.

The Golden Flashes' defense was banged up. Starting nose guard Nate Terhune is out after breaking his leg last week. Terhune's backup, Chris Fairchild did not return after hurting his lower right leg early in the second quarter. Fairchild closed the first half on crutches with his right shoe off on the sideline.

Starting nose tackle Roosevelt Nix played despite a sore back.

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