Nittany Lions Take the Bulls by the Horns, 45-24
Sept. 15, 2007
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Another solid defensive performance and a career day for fifth-year senior Rodney Kinlaw (Goose Creek, S.C.) led No. 12 Penn State to a 45-24 victory over the Buffalo Bulls at Beaver Stadium today in front of a sellout crowd of 107,506.
Kinlaw had a career-high 129 yards rushing on a career-best 23 carries for his first career 100-yard rushing game.
Senior quarterback Anthony Morelli (Pittsburgh) also turned in a strong performance, going 20-for-27 for 202 yards and a career-high four touchdowns passes. He is the first Penn State quarterback to throw for four touchdowns in a game since Michael Robinson had four TD passes against Illinois in 2005. Morelli's previous career high was three TD passes against Akron in 2006 and Florida International two weeks ago.
Sophomore tight end Andrew Quarless (Uniondale, N.Y.) was on the receiving end of two of Morelli's touchdown passes. Quarless has four touchdown catches in the last three games he has played in (Temple and Tennessee in 2006). Also on the receiving end, Deon Butler (Woodbridge, Va.) made five catches for 72 yards and moved into a tie for eighth place with 94 career receptions.
After forcing a three-and-out on Buffalo's second drive of the game, the Nittany Lions started inside their own 10-yard line for the second consecutive drive. On the first play of the drive, senior Austin Scott (Allentown) fumbled the ball on the Penn State 8-yard line and the Bulls recovered the ball in prime scoring position with 8:15 remaining in the first quarter.
After an incompletion and a run for no gain, Buffalo faced third-and-goal from the 8-yard line. Drew Willy threw a screen pass to running back Mario Henry, who had a wide-open shot at the endzone before junior linebacker Sean Lee (Pittsburgh) tackled him to the ground at the 2-yard line for his fifth tackle in the first nine minutes of the game. The stop forced Buffalo to kick a 19-yard field goal, which P.J. Principe knocked through the uprights to give the Bulls the early 3-0 lead.
Following a 26-yard return by A.J. Wallace (Waldorf, Md.) on the ensuing kickoff, the Nittany Lions were halted again when Scott fumbled for the second time and UB's Adekun Akingba recovered at the Buffalo 48-yard line.
After an exchange of possessions, Penn State started its next drive with great field position on the Buffalo 39-yard line. Morelli completed two passes for 18 yards and Kinlaw rushed for nine yards on the drive before having to bring in junior kicker Kevin Kelly (Langhorne) for a 27-yard field goal to tie the game at 3-3 with 6:29 remaining in the half. The field goal was the 41st of his career, moving into fourth place on the Penn State all-time list.
The Nittany Lions found their offensive groove on their next possession, taking the ball down field 67 yards in just 2:27. Kinlaw ran for 26 yards and Morelli threw for 41 yards on the drive, including a 21-yard touchdown catch by Quarless, his first TD grab of the season, for a 10-3 lead.
On the ensuing Buffalo possession, Terrell Jackson caught a pass, but was met by safety Tony Davis (Warren, Ohio) who knocked the ball out of Jackson's hand and into the arms of safety Anthony Scirrotto (West Deptford, N.J.), who returned it 10 yards to the Buffalo 18, with 2:05 to play in the half. After gaining 13 yards on three plays, Morelli looked for the end zone and junior Jordan Norwood (State College) tipped the ball up and made a spectacular catch on his back for the touchdown and a 17-3 Penn State lead.
The Bulls moved the ball downfield and with just under a minute to play and lined up for a 49-yard field goal attempt, but Principe's was short and the teams went into the locker room with Penn State leading, 17-3.
Penn State kept the momentum with a 51-yard return by Wallace on the opening kick of the second half. Kinlaw ripped off a 10-yard run, followed by a 9-yard reception by Matt Hahn (Dix Hills, N.Y.). The Nittany Lions capped the drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Morelli to Terrell Golden (Norfolk, Va.), his second touchdown of the season, to extend the lead to 24-3.
The Bulls moved into Penn State territory, but on fourth-and-nine play, Dan Connor (Wallingford) sacked Drew Willy for a 6-yard loss. Following a pair of Scott rushes for 12 yards, Morelli connected with Butler for a 45-yard gain to the Buffalo 5. Morelli hit Quarless in the end zone from four yards out to make it a 31-3 game. Morelli's four touchdown tosses in the contest were a career high.
Scirrotto grabbed his first interception of the season, and the eighth of his career, and returned it 47 yards. But, the turnover did not produce any points as Kelly's 47-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.
The Bulls put together a 13-play, 70-yard drive that was capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by James Starks to make it 31-10 early in the fourth quarter. It was the first touchdown allowed by the Penn State defense in 2007 and the first offensive TD by an opponent since the second quarter of the Outback Bowl.
Kinlaw topped off his career day with a 6-yard touchdown run to move the Nittany Lions' lead back to 28 points, 38-10, at the 8:07 mark. The Bulls countered on their next drive with 9-yard TD catch by Ernest Jackson from running back Henry to climb within 21 points, 38-17, with 6:44 on the clock.
Scott recorded his fifth touchdown run of the season, from 40 yards out, to extend the Penn State lead to 45-17 with 4:02 remaining in the game. The Bulls reached the end zone again on a Willy pass to LaRon Haymore in the final half minute to make the final margin, 45-24. Willy had a career-high 330 passing yards with one touchdown and one interception.
The Nittany Lions limited Buffalo to 56 rushing yards on 35 attempts and through three games, have allowed a total of 53 rushing yards on 92 carries.
Connor and Lee recorded a game-high 12 tackles each, with a tackle for loss. Junior linebacker Tyrell Sales (Butler, Pa.) made five stops and Davis had five hits and forced a fumble.
The Nittany Lions (3-0) hit the road for the first time this season as they travel to Ann Arbor to face Michigan next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Penn State will be opening its 15th season of Big Ten competition. The game can be seen nationally on ABC, except in Ohio and Chicago, where it will air on ESPN.