STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Nate Sudfeld threw a handful of passes on Saturday but all of them came on the sideline at Beaver Stadium.
Indiana’s starting quarterback, who’s still nursing an ankle injury, could only watch and help prep teammates Zander Diamont and Danny Cameron with warm-up catch-and-throw sessions as Penn State pulled away for a 29-7 win.
“Nate could have played, he just wasn’t very mobile,” Indiana coach Kevin Wilson said.
Christian Hackenberg was. He also burned Indiana with his arm.
Penn State’s quarterback threw for 262 yards, two touchdown passes and ran for two scores for Penn State (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) while Indiana had to call on their third-string quarterback. Diamont scored the only points for the Hoosiers (4-2, 0-2) on a 12-yard run in the first quarter but was knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury in the third. Diamont completed just 9 of 17 passes for 90 yards and finished with 38 rushing yards on 11 carries.
Cameron didn’t fare any better against Penn State’s defense.
A week after pushing No. 1 Ohio State to the brink, Indiana (4-2, 0-2 Big Ten) crossed midfield just five times on 13 possessions, went 3-and-out six times and turned the ball over once. Cameron’s first pass of the fourth quarter was intercepted by cornerback John Reid and Hackenberg lunged over safety Chase Dutra for a 5-yard touchdown run seven plays later to give Penn State a 26-7 lead. Tyler Davis kicked a 30-yard field goal to cap the scoring.
“Offense had very low execution,” Wilson said. “Our defense gave them a few big plays based on where they were.”
After Hackenberg hit Brandon Polk on a 39-yard touchdown pass, it looked like Indiana would keep it close when Diamont led an 8-play scoring drive to tie it. He hooked up with receiver Isaac Griffith on back-to-back throws for 31 yards and cut around the right side of Penn State’s defense for a 12-yard touchdown run but the highlights would end there for the Hoosiers.
Griffith left the game in the second half with a knee injury, adding to the list of ailing Hoosiers that includes running back Jordan Howard who didn’t play.
Without him and Sudfeld, Indiana’s offense went nowhere. The Hoosiers averaged 36 points and 498 yards per game heading into Saturday but managed just 234 against the Nittany Lions.
“The offense has to step up,” receiver Ricky Jones said. “We have to step up and make big plays. Right now, we’re not doing that.”
Penn State’s offense, which has been inconsistent all season, did even though the Hoosiers sacked Hackenberg four times.
Hackenberg followed the deep ball to Polk with another 39-yard touchdown pass to DaeSean Hamilton midway through the second quarter. The 6-foot-4, 228-pound quarterback used his legs to steer his offense into scoring position with a 22-yard scramble on Penn State’s next possession and bootlegged for a 1-yard touchdown to give Penn State a 19-7 halftime lead.
“You know he is an athletic guy,” defensive end Nick Mangieri said. “Obviously he likes to stay in the pocket but I think we were getting back there enough where he kind of had to use his legs.”
That was Diamont’s game when he kept plays alive with his feet a year ago, nearly leading an upset over the Nittany Lions in Bloomington. But Penn State’s defense slowed the Hoosier’s rapid tempo with seven tackles for losses including four sacks.
“We never got them except for one drive and we didn’t put any stress on their defense,” Wilson said.