Williams Leads Nittany Lions Past No. 22 Illinois, 38-24
Sept. 27, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Senior wide receiver Derrick Williams delivered a scintillating performance to lead No. 12 Penn State to a 38-24 win over No. 22 Illinois in front of a raucous Penn State White Out throng in Beaver Stadium.
A co-captain, Williams gained a career-high 241 all-purpose yards, scoring three touchdowns - one each via a run, reception and an electrifying 94-yard kickoff return on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Nittany Lions improved to 5-0 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play. The Lions have won 36 of their past 45 games, good for sixth-best nationally over that span. Penn State has won 24 of its 26 games in Beaver Stadium during the 45-game span.
Williams became the first player in the Joe Paterno era to score a rushing touchdown, a receiving touchdown and a kick return touchdown in the same game. His 241 all-purpose yards (33 rushing, 75 receiving and 133 on kick returns) yards were the most by a Nittany Lion since Larry Johnson gained 289 yards (279 rushing, 10 receiving) vs. Michigan State in 2002. Williams' previous high for all-purpose yards was 151 vs. Purdue in 2007.
The Nittany Lions gained 422 yards, averaging 6.6 yards per play. Penn State gained 241 rushing yards (5.5 per attempt), led by sophomore tailback Evan Royster with 139 yards on 19 carries (7.3). Royster also had two catches for 23 yards.
Quarterback Daryll Clark was 14 of 20 for 181 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Clark also ran for 50 yards on 11 carries and scored on a one-yard run.
Williams made a game-high six receptions for 75 yards. Wide receiver Deon Butler had two catches for 43 yards and tight end Andrew Quarless had two catches for 31 yards, including a 17-yard TD pass from Clark with 9:03 to play for the game's final points.
For the fourth time this season, sophomore linebacker Navorro Bowman led the Nittany Lions in tackles, recording 10, with 0,.5 TFL, a forced fumble and a pass break-up. Bowman has recorded double figures in tackles three times this year.
Senior safety Mark Rubin tied Bowman for team-high honors with a carer-best 10 stops, including a TFL. Linebacker Josh Hull made seven hits, as did DE Aaron Maybin, who recorded his eighth minus-yardage play of the season.
Senior safety Anthony Scirrotto's diving second quarter interception gave him 11 for his career, tying him with Don Eyer and Dennis Onkotz for ninth at Penn State. Scirrotto made six tackles and also had his second career fumble recovery.
The Fighting Illini became the first team to score on the Nittany Lions in the first quarter this season, as Jason Ford scored on a two-yard run 4:39 into the game.
The Nittany Lions took their next possession 73 yards to knot the game at 7-7. An 11-yard run by Evan Royster set-up a one-yard run by Clark with 6:16 left in the opening period.
Illinois came right back, as Arrelious Benn made a great catch as he was falling out of the end zone. The play was initially ruled an incompletion, but was reviewed and ruled a touchdown, good from 33 yards out. The Illini took a 14-7 lead with 3:25 left in the first quarter.
On the Nittany Lions' next play, Clark was hit and the ball popped out as his knee touched the ground. Penn State drove and Williams circled out of the backfield and caught a beautiful 21-yard over the shoulder pass from Clark just before the goal line for his first receiving score of the season. Clark's eighth touchdown pass of the season made it 14-14 with :22 left in an exciting opening period.
Penn State took its first lead early in the second quarter. A 24-yard pass to Butler took the Lions deep into Illini territory. Williams took a reverse five yards to paydirt, following a great block from fullback Dan Lawlor. Williams' first rushing touchdown of the season made it 21-14 with 9:09 left in the period.
On the Illini's next possession, senior safety Scirrotto made a diving interception at the Illinois 48. The pick was the 11th of his career, moving him into a tie for ninth place on the Penn State career list.
Penn State has out-scored the opposition 100-20 in the second quarter this season.
Early in the third quarter, Kevin Kelly's 25-yard field goal made it 24-14. The trey also extended his school-record streak for consecutive games with a field goal to 25 and gave him 63 field goals for his career, moving him into a tie for seventh place in the Big Ten annals with Remy Hamilton of Michigan (1993-96).
The Illini drew within 24-17 on a 43-yard field goal by Matt Eller on the final play of the third quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, though, Williams found a seam and out-ran the opposition for a 94-yard score, sending the crowd of 109,626 into delirium and extending the lead to 31-17.
Illinois battled back, as Juice Williams connected with Benn on a 54-yard scoring strike to draw within 31-24 with 12:48 to play. But, the Lions came right back, with Clark hitting Quarless from 17 yards out with 9:03 to close the scoring.
Penn State improved to 13-3 against Illinois, including 10-2 against the Fighting Illini since joining the Big Ten in 1993.
Penn State visits Purdue on Saturday to begin a stretch of four road games over its next five overall contests. Kickoff is set for 12:00 p.m. ET. ESPN or ESPN2 will televise the contest to a national audience. The Boilermakers (2-2) lost at Notre Dame, 38-21, on Saturday.