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Derrick Williams returned a punt 78 yards to tie the game at 7-7.
Sept. 8, 2007
UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. - In front of the first-ever all-stadium White House crowd of 110, 078, second-largest in Beaver Stadium history, No. 14 Penn State thumped gridiron rival Notre Dame, 31-10, Saturday night. The Nittany Lion defense held the Fighting Irish to zero yards rushing and only 144 total yards, sacking Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen six times for a loss of 50 yards.
The Penn State defense has allowed three points and minus-three rushing yards in the first two games
Senior All-America linebacker Dan Connor (Wallingford) led Penn State with a game-high 12 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss, with a sack for a loss of 11 yards. Connor moved into fourth place on the school career tackle list with 291.
Senior tailback Austin Scott (Allentown) posted his fourth-career 100-yard rushing game with 28 carries for 116 yards and two touchdowns and senior Rodney Kinlaw (Goose Creek, S.C.) recorded 49 yards on nine carries. Quarterback Anthony Morelli (Pittsburgh, Pa.) completed 12 of 22 passes for 131 yards and one touchdown.
The first drive belonged to the Fighting Irish, with Clausen at the helm for his first career start. Clausen took Notre Dame 47 yards in 11 plays to set up the day's first field goal attempt, but the Nate Whitaker kick went wide right, turning the ball over to Penn State at the Nittany Lions' 33 yard line.
Penn State's offense struggled early in the game, with a 73-yard interception return by Darrin Walls for a Notre Dame touchdown on the Nittany Lions' first drive, and a forced fumble on a Scott run to end the second PSU possession.
It only took one play for the Nittany Lions to knot the game at 7-7, however, as a 78-yard punt return from Derrick Williams (Greenbelt, Md.) brought the crowd to a frenzy. Williams caught the ball near his shoe strings and accelerated up the right sideline. With traffic in front, the speedy junior cut to the middle of the field and made his first would-be tackler miss with some help from A.J. Wallace (Waldorf, Md.) as he cut to the outside. Punter Geoff Price was the only other player with a chance to bring Williams down before the end zone, but the Lions never gave him a chance and arms-raised, Williams celebrated near the student section as the Nittany Lions picked up the momentum. The return was the longest of Williams' career, his third over 75 yards, and his second career punt return for a score.
The game remained a 7-7 battle of two gridiron greats when a six-play, 51-yard drive by the Nittany Lions gave Penn State its first lead of the day. Scott gained 15 yards on the ground while Morelli found Deon Butler (Woodbridge, Va.) and Matt Hahn (Dix Hills, N.Y.) for 16 and five yards, respectively, on the drive. Morelli's 10-yard completion to junior Jordan Norwood (State College) put the Nittany Lions in the end zone again, and a Kevin Kelly (Langhorne) extra point gave Penn State a 14-7 lead.
The advantage extended to 17-7 when a 68-yard kick-off return by Wallace to open the second half led to a 37-yard Kelly field goal early in the third quarter to put Penn State up 17-10. The Lions scored once more in the quarter when, on the strength of a beautiful 51-yard Morelli to Chris Bell (Norfolk, Va.) strike, Penn State found the end zone on a 65-yard drive. As part of a 116-yard night, Scott hurtled the final yard in for the touchdown and a 24-10 lead.
The Penn State defense again held its ground, driving the Irish offense back five yards on the ensuing possession that ultimately ended in a 15-yard Notre Dame catch interference penalty on the punt, giving the Nittany Lions the ball on their own 42-yard line. The teams traded three-and-outs before a 12-yard Scott rush to the 50-yard line sparked a 10-play, 62-yard Penn State drive that culminated in a 5-yard Scott touchdown run, putting Penn State up 31-10 with 7:40 remaining in the game.
The Fighting Irish gained 65 yards on eight plays in only 1:16, including a 35-yard pass play from Clausen to Robby Parris. A Penn State pass interference call gave Notre Dame first-and-goal on the Nittany Lion 7-yard line. But the Penn State defense again showed why it is one of the best in the nation, as a Tyrell Sales (Butler) sack for a loss of three yards and two Notre Dame incomplete passes, including a break-up by Wallace, posed the Fighting Irish with a fourth and goal from the 10-yard line. The crowd was on its feet and cornerback Justin King (Pittsburgh) didn't disappoint, intercepting Clausen in the back of the end zone to give the Lions the ball on the 20-yard line with 6:19 left on the clock.
Scott rushed for three yards and Hahn added four more before a Morelli pass to Norwood gave Penn State a fourth-and-one on the Penn State 27-yard line. But a Nittany Lion delay-of-game penalty forced Penn State back five yards and the ensuing Jeremy Boone (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) punt gave Notre Dame the ball on its own 33-yard line. A Clausen 12-yard pass to Grimes put the Irish on their own 45-yard line but a Maurice Evans (Brooklyn, N.Y.) sack on third-and-five forced an Irish punt with 2:04 remaining in the game. Kinlaw added in one more 32-yard rush for Penn State as time expired.
Penn State is home again for the third-straight week when it meets Buffalo on Saturday, Sept. 15 at noon ET at Beaver Stadium. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network. The Big Ten Network is available nationally on Direct TV and DISH Network. Nearly 100 cable operators throughout the country are also carrying the Big Ten Network, so check your local listings. The official audio broadcast will be available from the Penn State Sports Network as well as on www.GoPSUsports.com
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