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Penn State notebook: WR Robinson makes up for lost time with big 2nd half

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Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review
Penn State linebacker Nyeem Wartman (5) tackles Syracuse running back Jerome Smith (45) during the first quarter Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, in East Rutherford, N.J.

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Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, 9:33 p.m.
 

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – After Allen Robinson was held out of the first half by Penn State coach Bill O'Brien for undisclosed reasons, fellow receiver Matt Zanellato urged Robinson to make an immediate impact.

“I told him … the first ball he catches, I expected him to score,” Zanellato said.

Instead, Robinson's first catch, on the Nittany Lions' first play of the second half, went for what was then a mere game-high 25 yards.

It wasn't until his second snap that Robinson delivered his touchdown.

“It was nice to see him be that spark once he was on the field,” Zanellato said.

Robinson, the Big Ten's reigning Receiver of the Year, had six receptions for 115 yards and a 51-yard touchdown during his first quarter of the season. He finished with seven catches for 133 yards.

O'Brien wouldn't say why he elected to not play Robinson before halftime. “That's between me and him,” O'Brien said.

Lehman, Hull hurting

Linebacker Mike Hull and tight end Matt Lehman did not finish the game because of apparent lower-body injuries. Penn State provided no immediate update on their conditions.

Lehman, a fifth-year senior, appeared to sustain what was perhaps a major knee injury. He collapsed without anyone making contact with him while running a route during the second quarter and carted off the field.

Hull, a junior and Canon-McMillan graduate, limped off the field late in the first quarter. Trainers were looking at his right leg. He retreated to the locker room and although he briefly returned to the game, he did not finish it.

Tight end Kyle Carter (left forearm) was among the other players limited by injury. Tackle Donovan Smith, linebacker Nyeem Wartman and safety/linebacker Stephen Obeng-Agyapong were among those who sustained minor injuries during the game but were not completely removed from it.

The injuries combined with heat to lead to 51 Nittany Lions getting into the game in the first half.

“That's what Penn State football is all about — if someone goes down, someone else has got to step up,” junior guard Miles Dieffenbach said.

“It was a great team victory.”

Ficken fine

Kicker Sam Ficken said his nightmarish performance in a loss at Virginia last September seems like a lifetime ago. The junior has grown from arguably Penn State's biggest liability into one of its strengths.

Ficken made all three of his field goal attempts — including a career-long 46-yarder — and also had two touchbacks Saturday. Dating to last season, Ficken has a streak of 13 consecutive successful kicks.

“Obviously, my life, I guess in a sense, has really 180-ed from that point in time, thankfully,” Ficken said of Sept. 8, 2012, when he was taunted over Twitter following missing four field goals in a 17-16 loss at Virginia. “Going to where I've started to where I am now, I couldn't be more confident in my ability.”

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