Belton steps up for Lions

Former Winslow High star Bill Belton led Penn State's ground attack during crunch time against Michigan.
Former Winslow High star Bill Belton led Penn State's ground attack during crunch time against Michigan. (Getty)
Posted: October 14, 2013

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - On the first play of the second half, Zach Zwinak fumbled the football over to Michigan's Frank Clark, who ran it in for a touchdown.

Zwinak didn't touch the ball again Saturday night in Penn State's 43-40 quadruple overtime victory over Michigan, so Bill Belton entered the fray.

Belton stepped up at the end of the fourth quarter as coach Bill O'Brien opted for a heavier run game. By the fourth overtime, Penn State was down three points and facing a fourth and 1. O'Brien said he was tired of trading field goals with the Wolverines. He handed the ball to Belton, and the Winslow Township High graduate converted.

"My coach believes in running the ball and that's what we do at Penn State is run the ball," Belton said after the game.

The play kept the Nittany Lions alive to get to a first and goal from Michigan's 2-yard line, and O'Brien called Belton's number again. The junior tailback bounced to the outside left and crossed the goal line as pandemonium erupted across Beaver Stadium.

"I was raised to know I'm going to be able to do everything, so I went into it with confidence and knew I was going to be able to get it done," Belton said. "The line did a great job, the fullback, Pat Zerbe, picked up his man, and I was able to get around the corner and get in."

Belton rushed for 85 yards and that one touchdown for the evening.

Quarterback Christian Hackenberg said Belton's strong ground assault in the overtimes freed him to make more plays.

"Belton ran the ball well," Hackenberg said. "He definitely took pressure off of me. The offensive line did a great job all day. It's tough playing four quarters and four overtimes.

"I just ran somewhere and hit somebody . I saw him bounce it and I saw he had the edge, and after that I just ran over to the sidelines."

But the sideline converged on Hackenberg before he could get there. The Lions flocked to the corner of the end zone to mob Belton.

"That was a heck of a run. I thought he had some really nice runs tonight," O'Brien said. "It was one of the better games of his career and I can't say enough about him. He's one of those guys who's grown up a lot on the field and off the field."

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