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September 8, 2013
Coming off of the fourth-best passing game for a freshman in the storied program's history, the former five-star prospect set a Nittany Lions mark by throwing for 311 yards in a 45-7 victory over Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
Hackenberg was the No. 24 player in the Rivals100 presented by Under Armour for the class of 2013. He said that no matter the amount of times that he was inside Beaver Stadium as a prospect, it was nothing like actually feeling the electricity of nearly 100,00 fans as a player.
"It was awesome, he said. "The fans were great. It definitely lived up to all the hype that I have been hearing throughout my entire recruiting process. It was awesome just being out there, the student section was fantastic, and we really got after it in the second half."
Hackenberg broke the freshman record that had stood since 2001, when Zack Mills threw for 280 yards against Ohio State. Hackenberg's 300-yard game was just the 21st by a quarterback in the history of Penn State football.
Head coach Bill O'Brien was pleased with the performance.
"This was his first game [at Beaver Stadium]. He was amped up," O'Brien said. "I thought he obviously settled down pretty well. I think it's pretty easy to see he's a hardworking kid. He has talent."
Hackenberg was aided by a running game that piled up 251 yards and a defense that forced five three-and-outs in the second half. His lone touchdown of the day was a 45-yard pass to Allen Robinson early in the fourth quarter that extended the lead to 31-7.
The play was more important going forward than it was for the outcome of the game.
"That was a big confidence builder for me. Knowing that [Robinson] dove in and made that touchdown was big for me," Hackenberg said. "The offensive line really held up, and it made me really comfortable. All the receivers and I built really good relationships together throughout the summer, but now actually seeing that bond come into play, it helps me build more of my confidence as the season goes on."
Next week, the Nittany Lions host an undefeated UCF program that has allowed 258 combined yards passing in two games.
Recruiting class of 2013 five-star tracker
Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
Max Browne, USC
Su'a Cravens, USC
Rueben Foster, Alabama
Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss
Matthew Thomas, FSU
O.J. Howard, Alabama
Greg Bryant, Notre Dame
Leon McQuay III, USC
Frank Herron, LSU
Montravius Adams, Auburn
Ty Isaac, USC
Alex Anzalone, Florida
Max Redfield, Notre Dame
Vonn Bell, Ohio State
A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama
Dallas Jackson is the national columnist for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.