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Last-second FG lifts Penn State over UCF

Dublin, Ireland (SportsNetwork.com) - Sam Ficken drilled a 36-yard field goal as time expired to give Penn State a 26-24 victory over UCF in the opener for both schools on Saturday in Ireland.

Justin Holman capped a 75-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown run to give UCF its first lead of the day, 24-23, with 1:13 left. Holman's 37-yard pass to Josh Reese on 4th-and-10 immediately preceded the scoring run on a quarterback draw.

Penn State (1-0) had plenty of time and all three timeouts, starting from its own 26. Christian Hackenberg converted a 4th-and-3 from the 33 with an 8-yard run and covered the next 40 yards on three completions -- the last an 18-yard strike to Geno Lewis -- to set up Ficken's fourth field goal of the day.

The kick made a winner of James Franklin in his Penn State debut. The former Vanderbilt coach replaced Bill O'Brien, who left in January to take the vacancy with the NFL's Houston Texans.

UCF (0-1) had won nine straight dating back to last season and also left Beaver Stadium in September with a 34-31 win during a 12-1 season.

The Lions took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a Zach Zwinak 1-yard run. A roughing the punter penalty allowed Penn State to keep possession and Hackenberg followed with a 44-yard pass to DaeSean Hamilton to set up the score.

Hackenberg, who threw for 454 yards, was intercepted on Penn State's next series and UCF converted with a 36-yard field goal from Shawn Moffitt early in the second quarter. Ficken then capped a 15-play, 72-yard march with a 22-yard kick for a 10-3 advantage that the Lions carried into halftime.

Ficken kicked a 33-yard field goal midway through the third quarter and Holman, who took over under center for starter Pete DiNovo, scored on a 1-yard run to cap a 70-yard drive in seven plays for the Knights' first TD.

It didn't take long for the Lions to answer, as Hackenberg found Lewis behind the secondary for a 79-yard touchdown strike just three plays later to make it 20-10. Holman, though, pulled the Knights within three early in the fourth with a 10-yard TD pass to Reese.

The teams traded turnovers on the next three possessions -- a Hackenberg pick, a Holman fumble and a Hackenberg fumble. Penn State then extended the margin to six on Ficken's 24-yard kick with 3:30 to play.

08/30 12:47:03 ET

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