Nittany Lions Squeeze The Orange, 28-7
Sept. 12, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., September 12, 2009 - Daryll Clark tossed three touchdown passes for the second straight game and linebacker Sean Lee helped the Penn State defense allow Syracuse to gain only 200 yards as the No. 7/5 Nittany Lions posted a 28-7 win on Classic Day in Beaver Stadium.
Penn State (2-0) held its second consecutive opponent to seven points in winning at home for the 29th time in its last 31 games. The Nittany Lions are 42-11 since the start of the 2005 season, among the top 10 records in the nation.
The Nittany Lions lead the all-time series with their old rival, 42-23-5. The Orange (0-2) played in Happy Valley for the first time since 1990.
Penn State has held its first two opponents to less than 10 points for the first time since the 1998 season, when the Nittany Lions held Southern Mississippi to six points and Bowling Green to three. In the first two games, Penn State has allowed a total of 93 net yards rushing, an average of 46.5 ypg. The Nittany Lions have allowed 386 total yards, which is an average of 193.0 ypg.
A senior co-captain, Lee made a game-high 13 tackles, with 3.0 tackles for minus-17 yards, including a 13-yard sack of Greg Paulus to lead the outstanding defensive effort, which included two interceptions. Senior linebacker Josh Hull tied his career-high with 11 hits and grabbed his second career interception. Sophomore safety Drew Astorino made six stops with a TFL and senior defensive tackle Jared Odrick made six tackles, with 0.5 TFL. Sophomore linebacker Nate Stupar made five stops and collected his first career interception.
The reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, Clark was 20 of 31 for 240 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception. He threw scoring strikes to Evan Royster (49 yards), Graham Zug (20 yards) and Mickey Shuler (1 yard). Clark has thrown at least three touchdown passes in each of the last three regular season games.
Clark's 240 passing yards give him eight 200-yard passing games in his career, tying him with Michael Robinson for eighth place in the Penn State annals.
Senior punter Jeremy Boone had an outstanding game, with three punts for a 50.0 average, including one kick downed at the Syracuse two.
The Nittany Lions took the game's first possession to a 7-0 lead. Clark hit Royster on a slant, he averted two would-be tacklers and zipped 49 yards for the score just 3:19 into the game. The reception was a career long for Royster. Collin Wagner's PAT made it 7-0.
Penn State took its next possession to the SU 1 but could not punch it in. On fourth-and-goal from the one, Clark fumbled the exchange from center Stefen Wisniewski and the Orange took over early in the second quarter. With the south end of Beaver Stadium roaring, Syracuse gained only one yard on three running plays and was forced to punt.
Early in the second quarter, the defense forced another punt from deep in SU territory and took possession at the Orange 35. Penn State quickly moved downfield and Royster scored on a 12-yard run around the left side with 7:34 left in the half for a 14-0 lead.
The Nittany Lions extended their lead to 21-0 on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Clark to Zug with 7:44 left in the third period. Zug broke his career highs for catches (6) and yards (79) on his second touchdown reception of the season.
Early in the fourth quarter, Odrick tipped a Paulus pass and Stupar grabbed it, returning his first career interception 17 yards to the Syracuse two. Clark then hit Shuler on a one-yard touchdown pass for a 28-0 lead with 8:56 to play.
On the Orange's next possession, Hull grabbed his second career interception at the Penn State 34. But, on third down, freshman quarterback Kevin Newsome fumbled while being tackled and Syracuse recovered at the PSU 16. On the next play, Paulus threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Donte Davis to make it 28-7 with 4:23 to play.
Penn State improved to 173-77-11 all-time against current Big East members. The Nittany Lions are 25-7 against Big East opponents since the conference began football competition in 1991.
Penn State hosts Temple on Saturday, Sept. 19 at 12:00 p.m. The Owls have been idle since falling to Villanova on Sept. 3. The game has been designated Favorite Jersey Day and fans are encouraged to wear their favorite all-time Penn State jersey. The game will air on the Big Ten Network, the Penn State Sports Network and www.GoPSUsports.com.