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Zach Zwinak

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November 15, 2012 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
Penn State's situation at running back since the end of spring practice has evolved in ways that no one, not even coach Bill O'Brien, could have predicted. The Nittany Lions adjourned for the summer with Silas Redd, a 1,000-yard rusher in 2011, being counted on to take most of the carries. Converted wide receiver Bill Belton was the top reserve, while 232-pound redshirt sophomore Zach Zwinak was on the fourth string. However, a tailback shuffle began when Redd transferred to Southern California after Penn State was hit by NCAA sanctions.
SPORTS
November 12, 2012 | By TIM GILBERT, Daily News Staff Writer gilbert@phillynews.com
A BLOWN CALL on a Matt Lehman touchdown will be the lasting image of Penn State's 32-23 loss to No. 16 Nebraska on Saturday in Memorial Stadium. The tight end reached the ball across the plane of the goal line and then lost control of it in the fourth quarter, but officials ruled the play a fumble. Replays showed the ball broke the plane of the goal line in Lehman's possession before he fumbled, but the call was not overturned. Nebraska recovered for a touchback, Penn State fans erupted in anger on Twitter, and the Cornhuskers didn't look back.
SPORTS
July 20, 2013 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
Penn State announced Thursday that Brad Bars, a redshirt junior defensive end, will miss the season with a ruptured right Achilles tendon suffered during a workout earlier this week. The 6-foot-3, 251-pound Bars, who is from Nashville, is expected to need four to six months of rehabilitation after surgery, team physician Peter Seidenberg said. After spring practice, Bars was listed as No. 2 on the depth chart at one defensive end position behind C.J. Olaniyan. Bars, who has a 3.77 grade point average as a finance major, played in eight games on defense and special teams last season and recorded two tackles.
SPORTS
October 14, 2013 | By Dan Norton, Inquirer Staff Writer
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.
SPORTS
July 11, 2013 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
Since Penn State received a four-year postseason football ban, one of a series of harsh sanctions handed down last year by the NCAA, it has tried to find a game during the regular season that would simulate a bowl atmosphere. That game might be coming next season. A published report Tuesday said that a deal has been finalized that would allow Penn State to open its 2014 football season in Ireland against Central Florida. The Orlando Sentinel, quoting a source with knowledge of the deal, reported that the game would be played in Dublin at Croke Park.
SPORTS
April 19, 2013 | BY TIM GILBERT, For the Daily News TDGilbert34@Gmail.com
Note: stats listed are from 2012. Key departures Michael Mauti, LB: 95 tackles, four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, three interceptions: The Big Ten's Linebacker of the Year was the emotional leader of Penn State's upstart squad last season, its first under coach Bill O'Brien. Now he's off to see whether his NFL dreams can be realized. Matt McGloin, QB: 3,266 passing yards, 24 TD, five INTs, five rushing TDs: After struggling for most of his career as a Nittany Lion, the Scranton native prospered under O'Brien, setting Penn State records for passing touchdowns and completions (270)
SPORTS
November 4, 2013 | By Dan Norton, Inquirer Staff Writer
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Bill Belton has spent his last two seasons for Penn State transitioning. The former star quarterback at Winslow Township High School came to Penn State as a wide receiver, and now he's a running back. He was struggling in the classroom, but now he's picked up his grades. He ran for 172 yards against Illinois on Saturday, but then he lost a fumble at his opponent's 2-yard line in the fourth quarter, just as Penn State was about to score the go-ahead touchdown.
SPORTS
September 30, 2012 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - The Penn State running game is starting to show the power and physicality that made it famous. The rushing identity on display Saturday in the Nittany Lions' 35-7 romp over Illinois included a power tailback and a shifty tailback taking turns behind an offensive line that gets better every week. Zach Zwinak, a 232-pound sophomore, carried 19 times for a career-high 100 yards and two touchdowns. Bill Belton, a 202-pound sophomore from Winslow Township High who was back in the lineup after missing three games with a sprained left ankle, added 65 yards on 16 carries.
SPORTS
October 28, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
Zach Zwinak, Penn State's leading rusher the last two seasons, and starting free safety Ryan Keiser will miss the remainder of the Nittany Lions' season because of injuries, coach James Franklin announced Monday. Franklin, who usually does not disclose injuries, declined to disclose the nature of the injuries to Zwinak and Keiser, both fifth-year seniors. The 6-foot-1, 233-pound Zwinak, who rushed for 1,000 yards two seasons ago and 989 yards last year, suffered an apparent injury to his left leg or ankle as he was blocking on the opening kickoff in Saturday night's double-overtime loss to Ohio State.
SPORTS
September 23, 2013 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Sam Ficken launched Penn State's longest field goal in 34 years Saturday, the final points of the Nittany Lions' 34-0 win over Kent State. It's too bad he never saw the ball go through. "I saw the ball go up and it was between the uprights," the junior kicker said, "but [holder Alex] Butterworth grabbed me and turned me around. So I had no idea if it went in or not, but I assumed from his reaction that it did. That's always a good feeling. " Ficken tied Herb Menhardt, who kicked Penn State's last 54-yard field goal, in 1979, for the fourth-longest kick in school history.
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SPORTS
October 28, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
Zach Zwinak, Penn State's leading rusher the last two seasons, and starting free safety Ryan Keiser will miss the remainder of the Nittany Lions' season because of injuries, coach James Franklin announced Monday. Franklin, who usually does not disclose injuries, declined to disclose the nature of the injuries to Zwinak and Keiser, both fifth-year seniors. The 6-foot-1, 233-pound Zwinak, who rushed for 1,000 yards two seasons ago and 989 yards last year, suffered an apparent injury to his left leg or ankle as he was blocking on the opening kickoff in Saturday night's double-overtime loss to Ohio State.
SPORTS
October 1, 2014 | BY JOHN McGONIGAL, Daily News Staff Writer mcgonij@phillynews.com
STATE COLLEGE - James Franklin, in his short time at Penn State, has formed a few habits, including asking the identity of the next opponent after games. In his postgame news conference after beating Rutgers, Franklin had this to say: "We will wake up tomorrow morning . . . clean up the Rutgers game, and get started on - who do we play next week?" Someone in the room told him it was UMass. "Then we'll get started on UMass, because that's who they tell us we'll be playing against next week," Franklin said.
SPORTS
September 27, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
Penn State's three-headed tailback system is a luxury for coach James Franklin but a problem of sorts for the participants. Franklin loves the competition generated among the backs - seniors Bill Belton and Zach Zwinak and sophomore Akeel Lynch - because it keeps everyone sharp on the practice field and on the sideline watching the game. The trio has done so well through the Nittany Lions' preseason camp and nearly a month of the regular season that Franklin still can't find one tailback who has emerged above the other two. "I don't think one guy has really separated himself over the others," Franklin said.
SPORTS
September 26, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
Penn State coach James Franklin likes to see quarterback Christian Hackenberg use his feet to pick up a few yards when a pass play breaks down. Hackenberg doesn't mind running, and tries to get as many yards as he can. There are times, however, when Hackenberg puts his body at risk trying to make an extra yard or two, and that's when Franklin doesn't like it. "I love it and I hate it," Franklin said. "I love it from a competitive standpoint. That's kind of who I want us to be. But that doesn't make a whole lot of sense for us right now and that's not smart.
SPORTS
September 23, 2014 | BY JOHN McGONIGAL, Daily News Staff Writer mcgonij@phillynews.com
STATE COLLEGE - Green grass. Not a closing hole. Not the back of an offensive lineman. Certainly not an approaching defender. Open field ahead of him is what Penn State running back Bill Belton said he saw, a change from previous weeks. Penn State is 4-0 on the season, for the first time since 2008. The Nittany Lions reached the Rose Bowl that season, and two wins away from bowl eligibility - a thought not possible just a few weeks ago - James Franklin's team is staring at the heart of its Big Ten slate with confidence.
SPORTS
September 22, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Nittany Nation had been awaiting this day since Penn State boarded the charter flight last month for Ireland - a team that consistently could pound the ball on the ground and dominate the game. No one, however, loved seeing this offensive development more than the Nittany Lions players. "Whenever you can run the ball and physically impose your will on the defense, it's definitely good for the team," senior Bill Belton said Saturday, after scoring two of Penn State's five rushing touchdowns in a 48-7 romp over winless Massachusetts on a sun-splashed day at Beaver Stadium.
SPORTS
September 18, 2014 | BY JOHN McGONIGAL, Daily News Staff Writer mcgonij@phillynews.com
STATE COLLEGE - Avoiding a swarm of pass rushers, Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg found a second to breathe, recognized a small pocket of space downfield and hurled a screamer to his receiver for a 14-yard pickup and first down. It was one of the few times in the first half of Saturday's game at Rutgers that Hackenberg, who looked like a centerfielder gunning a runner out at home, was able to step into a pass and hit his wideout. Standing tall in the pocket and able to read the field in front of him, Hackenberg, with his rocket arm and uncanny awareness for a sophomore, is at the very least one of the most confident gunslingers in the Big Ten. But no quarterback, whether it's an NFL Pro Bowler or high school freshman, can be fully effective - or, looking long-term, healthy - when he spends most of a game on their back.
SPORTS
September 9, 2014 | BY JOHN McGONIGAL, Daily News Staff Writer mcgonij@phillynews.com
STATE COLLEGE - Penn State tried something new on Nov. 19, 2011. Days after Joe Paterno was fired in the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse aftermath, Paterno's son and assistant, Jay, and then-interim head coach Tom Bradley took the Nittany Lions to Columbus, Ohio, for a game against Ohio State. Seemingly out of nowhere, Penn State, wearing its traditional, plain-white away uniforms, unearthed offensive success with a foreign but literally straighforward concept: the Wildcat. It led to scores on four of the Lions' first five possessions and propelled Penn State to its first win without Paterno as a coach since 1965.
SPORTS
August 29, 2014 | BY JOHN McGONIGAL, Daily News Staff Writer mcgonij@phillynews.com
STATE COLLEGE - Much of the excitement surrounding Penn State's 2014 season is generated from what's new, most notably first-year head coach James Franklin. While the hype is there for Franklin's inaugural campaign, injuries and departures - two aspects of football any team likes avoiding - will play a significant role in the Nittany Lions' upcoming season. And Franklin knows it. Franklin, who made Vanderbilt relevant in his 3 years as head coach before succeeding Bill O'Brien at Penn State on Jan. 11, and his team's concerns include lack of offensive line depth and the loss of Allen Robinson, one of the most prolific wide receivers in school history.
SPORTS
August 27, 2014 | By Joe Juliano, Inquirer Staff Writer
If there is one thing that has impressed Penn State offensive coordinator John Donovan since he started his job in January, it's the ability of senior running back Bill Belton to fearlessly move his body into the way of a blitzing linebacker on pass plays. "He's a pretty tough kid," Donovan said Monday of Belton, a senior running back from Winslow Township High School in Camden County. "He's a good pass protector, which is something that's not always easy for a running back. "You normally wouldn't think the guy could be great at pass protection," he added, probably in reference to Belton's size of 5-foot-10 and 204 pounds.
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