Nittany Lions' Rose Bowl Rally Falls Short
Jan. 1, 2009
PASADENA, Calif.- Sixth-ranked Penn State came into its Rose Bowl clash with No. 5 USC among the nation's leaders in fewest penalties and turnovers, but mistakes proved costly as the Trojans captured a 38-24 win in the battle between national powers.
The Nittany Lions had season-highs with nine penalties for 72 yards, 62 in the first half, negating a turnover and a 45-yard completion in USC territory early in the game. Penn State also had three turnovers after committing only 13 during the regular season.
Penn State, the 2008 Big Ten Champions, saw its three-game bowl winning streak snapped by USC, which took a 5-4 lead in the all-time series. The Nittany Lions are 9-3 in bowl games since starting Big Ten Conference play in 1993, dropping to 26-13-2 all-time in post-season games. USC became the first school to win three consecutive Rose Bowls.
Penn State finished 11-2, earning at least 11 wins for the 14th time under Coach Joe Paterno. The career victories leader among major college coaches with 383, Paterno also is the all-time leader in bowl appearances (35) and victories (23-11-1 record). The Hall of Fame Coach lost a bowl game west of the Mississippi River for the first time after 13 victories without a defeat. He had been 5-0 against teams from the state of the bowl site, west of the Mississippi, prior to today.
More than 30,000 enthusiastic and loyal Nittany Lion fans brought the famed Penn State white out to the Rose Bowl, staying in the game until the final gun. The total attendance was 93,293.
The Nittany Lions gained 410 yards, the most by a USC opponent this season, with Stanford having gained the previous high with 367 yards. Penn State became just the third team this year to score more than 20 points against the nation's No. 1 scoring defense (7.8 ppg average), earning the second-highest number of points by a USC opponent.
Junior quarterback Daryll Clark broke Penn State bowl records with 273 passing yards and 290 yards of total offense. The 2008 first team All-Big Ten signal-caller, his 21 completions tied Michael Robinson's mark from the 2006 Orange Bowl. Clark was 21 of 36, with two touchdowns and two interceptions, one of which came on the final play of the game, with Penn State at the USC 12-yard-line.
Redshirt freshman tailback Stephfon Green saw extensive duty, as sophomore Evan Royster left the game late in the first quarter with a knee injury. Green led the Nittany Lions with 57 yards on 10 carries and five receptions for 67 yards, including a 30-yard play. Royster gained 34 yards on just six carries to finish the season with 1,236 yards, good for No. 10 on the Penn State season list, passing Curtis Enis (1,210 in 1996).
Senior Deon Butler made four catches for 97 yards and had another 45-yard first quarter catch nullified by a penalty. He finished his tremendous career as Penn State's career leader with 179 receptions, while his 2,771 yards were good for No. 2 on the school career list.
Senior All-American Derrick Williams made four receptions for 34 yards, including a two-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter to pull the Lions within 31-14. He also gained 17 yards on four attempts. Williams finished his brilliant career No. 3 on the school career receptions list with 161 and No. 10 on the career receiving yardage list at 1,743. A co-captain, Williams' 4,156 career all-purpose yards are good for No. 5 on the Penn State list.
In his final game, senior Jordan Norwood made three catches for 32 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. He finished his career No. 4 on the Penn State career receptions list (158) and No. 3 on the school career receiving yardage list (2,015). Norwood passed Kenny Jackson (2,006) and Bryan Johnson (2,008), joining Butler to become just the fifth Nittany Lion with 2,000 career receiving yards.
Norwood's three receptions also gave him 41 for the season, as he, Butler (47) and Williams (44) each eclipsed 40 or more receptions for the third consecutive season. Prior to 2006, the Nittany Lions had never had a trio of players with 40 or more catches in the same season.
The Nittany Lions held USC to just 61 net rushing yards, 145 yards below the Trojans' season average. USC became the eighth team to fail to gain 100 rushing yards vs. Penn State this season, as the Lions came into the game ranked No. 8 in the nation in rushing defense at 95.9 ypg.
Sophomore linebacker Navorro Bowman recorded a Penn State bowl record five tackles for loss (minus-21) and recorded his fourth sack of the season among his eight tackles in the game. A 2008 first team All-Big Ten selection, Bowman finished the season with a team-leading 106 tackles and had 16.5 tackles for loss.
Junior linebacker Josh Hull made a game-high nine tackles, including one for a five-yard loss. Hull was second on the squad with 75 stops this season. Senior Tony Davis made eight hits and recovered a fumble that was forced by senior Tyrell Sales, who made four solo stops. Senior Lydell Sargeant made seven tackles (six solo) and senior Anthony Scirrotto made four. All-America defensive end Aaron Maybin made four stops (three solo) with a minus-yardage play.
Senior placekicker Kevin Kelly scored six points in the game with three PAT and a 25-yard field goal that moved him into fourth place all-time on the NCAA career overall scoring charts with 425 points. That mark also ranks second in Big Ten history, just one point shy of the record of 426 points held by Ron Dayne of Wisconsin (1996-99). The Big Ten career kick scoring leader, Kelly's mark also ranks second all-time on the NCAA career kick scoring chart, trailing only Louisville's Art Carmody (433, 2004-07).
Southern California quarterback Mark Sanchez was 28 of 35 for 413 yards, with four touchdown passes, the most ever by an opposing player against the Nittany Lions in a bowl game. His 413 yards were second-highest in Rose Bowl history and the most against Penn State since Minnesota's Tim Schade threw for 478 yards in 1993. Wideout Damian Williams' 162 receiving yards (on 10 catches) broke the record for a Penn State bowl opponent.
On USC's second possession, Maybin hit Sanchez and forced a fumble that Ollie Ogbu recovered at the USC 34, but Maybin was called for off-sides and the Trojans retained possession. Southern California went 86 yards in 11 plays, with Sanchez hitting Williams on a 27-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead with 4:12 left in the first quarter.
The Nittany Lions took their ensuing possession 80 yards in nine plays to knot the score at 7-7. A 45-yard catch and run by Deon Butler deep into USC territory was nullified by an illegal shift penalty, but Penn State was undaunted. A 28-yard strike from Clark to Butler took the ball to the USC nine-yard-line. On the next play, Clark barreled nine yards into the end zone on a draw play with :04 left in the opening period. Kevin Kelly's PAT made it 7-7.
The Trojans came right back, completing two pass plays of more than 25 yards. Sanchez completed the drive with a six-yard touchdown run for a 14-7 lead with 12:27 left in the first half.
USC took its next possession to 72 yards in eight plays, but the Penn State defense stiffened, forcing a 30-yard field goal by David Buehler, making it 17-7 with 7:00 left in the half.
The Trojans extended their lead to 24-7 on a 19-yard touchdown screen pass from Sanchez to Stafon Johnson with 1:24 left in the half.
Penn State quickly got moving on its ensuing possession, but another mistake proved costly. Stephfon Green took a short screen pass and zipped 30 yards to near midfield, but fumbled as he was being hit and the Trojans recovered at the USC 42. Sanchez then connected with C.J. Gable on a 20-yard touchdown pass with just :36 to go for a 31-7 halftime lead.
The 31 points were the most the Nittany Lions have allowed in a game this season. Penn State tied its season-high with seven penalties in the first half, for a season-high 62 yards.
On USC's opening possession of the second half, senior linebacker Tyrell Sales forced a fumble that senior cornerback Tony Davis recovered at the Penn State 42. The Lions moved into USC territory, but a fourth down completion from Clark to Jordan Norwood was short of the marker.
Late in the third quarter, Penn State was on the move. A 27-yard pass from Clark to Butler got the Lions deep into USC territory. On third-and-goal, Clark fired a two-yard scoring strike to Derrick Williams, pulling the Lions within 31-14 with 13:33 left to play.
But, the Trojans quickly got the score back. Sanchez hit Ronald Johnson on 45-yard pass to make it 38-14 with 12:02 to play.
Kevin Kelly connected on his 78th career field goal, a 25-yarder, to pull the Nittany Lions within 38-17. Kelly moved into a tie for eighth place on the NCAA career field goal list with the kick.
Penn State forced a punt and Williams ran 14 yards to get the Lions across midfield. An 11-yard pass to Andrew Quarless and a 17-yard completion to Norwood set-up a nine-yard scoring strike to Norwood to make it 38-24 with 4:24 to play.