Nittany Lions Rush Past Illini With Overpowering Second Half
Oct. 3, 2009
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Penn State ran for a season-high 338 yards and held the ball for nearly 20 minutes in the second half en route to a 35-17 win at Illinois. The No. 15/13 Nittany Lions improved to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten.
Leading 7-3 at halftime, Penn State put forth a dominant second half performance, scoring four touchdowns and holding the ball for 19:28. The Nittany Lions out-gained the Illini, 208-8, in the third quarter en route to 513 yards, just two off their season-high.
Penn State improved to 10-1 in the next game after a loss since the start of the 2005 season.
Sophomore Stephfon Green (13-120-1) and junior Evan Royster (17-105-1) eclipsed 100 rushing yards, giving Penn State its first 100-yard tandem since Tony Hunt (151) and Michael Robinson (125) did so in a 2005 win over Wisconsin. Green eclipsed the century mark for the second time in his career, while Royster did so for the second time this season and eighth time in his career.
Senior quarterback Daryll Clark accounted for 258 yards of total offense. Clark was a very efficient 17 of 25 (68 pct.) for 175 yards, with no touchdowns or interceptions. He also ran for 83 yards, including a 51-yard burst in the third period, and scored twice.
Senior tight end Andrew Quarless tied his career-high with five receptions. Sophomore wideout Derek Moye made four receptions for 57 yards, senior tight end Mickey Shuler had three grabs for 33 yards and junior Graham Zug had three catches for 28 yards.
The Nittany Lion defense kept Illinois out of the end zone until less than nine minutes were left and with Penn State holding a 28-3 lead. The Penn State defense has yet to allow a first half touchdown this season and has permitted a total of five through five games.
Senior middle linebacker Josh Hull recorded double figure tackles for the fourth consecutive contest with 11, leading the Nittany Lions in hits for third third straight week. Hull also had a tackle for loss. Linebacker Bani Gbadyu started for injured co-captain Sean Lee for the second straight week and made a career-high eight stops. Safety Nick Sukay had seven solo hits and linebacker Navorro Bowman had seven tackles, with a TFL for minus-eight yards.
Sophomore defensive end Eric Latimore recorded a career-best five tackles, including a sack. Classmate Jack Crawford had four stops, including a sack for minus-15 yards, and recovered a fumble at the Illinois 14 to set-up Brent Carter's 11-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Freshman defensive end Sean Stanley had a sack and forced the fumble that Crawford recovered.
Senior punter Jeremy Boone had another outstanding game, averaging 49.5 yards on four punts. He delivered a 66-yard punt, third-longest of his career, and had two punts downed inside the Illini five-yard-line.
Midway through the first quarter, Boone launched a 66-yard punt that was downed on the Illinois 3. The punt was the third-longest of his career. The first period was scoreless.
Early in the second quarter, Clark connected with Mickey Shuler and Graham Zug on consecutive first down passes. Green then burst through a gaping hole on the left side, got a big block from right guard Lou Eliades and raced down the middle of the field for a 52-yard score. Green's run was Penn State's longest since his 69-yard touchdown run vs. Temple in 2008. Collin Wagner's PAT kick made it 7-0 with 11:05 left in the second quarter.
On the Illini's ensuing possession, Arrelious Benn hauled in a 49-yard completion and was dragged down by Hull at the Penn State 8. The defense stiffened and forced a 22-yard field goal by Matt Eller to make it 7-3 with 7:12 left in the first half.
Late in the half, Boone lofted a punt that A.J. Wallace downed at the Illinois 1. The Illini, though, moved the ball downfield until Jack Crawford delivered a huge sack that also resulted in an intentional grounding penalty. On the final play of the half, Juice Williams lofted the ball from the Penn State 43 toward the end zone, but freshman cornerback Stephon Morris grabbed his first career interception at the PSU 2 and returned it 70 yards as the clock expired.
The Nittany Lions took their second possession of the second half to paydirt. On third-and-seven from the Penn State 34, Clark ran through a huge hole on the right side, got a block from Evan Royster and burst 51 yards to the Illini 15. The carry was the longest of his career. A six-yard run by Green resulted in a first-and-goal and Clark finished the drive with a one-yard sneak to make it 14-3 with 6:34 left in the third period.
The Penn State defense forced another three-and-out and the offense marched 79 yards to boost the Nittany Lions' lead to 21-3. Royster had a 20-yard run and a 16-yard reception on the drive and the offensive line paved the way for Royster and Green to continue the success on the ground. Clark completed the 12-play drive with a one-yard sneak with 14:28 left in the game. Royster had six carries for 49 yards on th drive.
Following another Illinois three-and-out, the Nittany Lions quickly moved 80 yards in just five plays to extend their lead. A 22-yard pass from Clark to Moye got the drive going and an 18-yard yard pass from Clark to Shuler took the ball to the Illini 15. On the next play, Royster swept around the right side to make it 28-3 with 10:18 left in the game.
Illinois got into the end zone on a 17-yard pass from Williams to Jarred Fayson with 8:46 to play.
Boone's only punt of the second half went 60 yards, but was a touchback. On the Illini's second play, Stanley hit Williams and Crawford pounced on the pigskin at the Illinois 14. On second down, Carter swept right for an 11-yard touchdown run with 4:49 to play.
Penn State will face its final non-conference opponent of the season when it hosts Eastern Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 10. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. at Beaver Stadium. The game will air on ESPN Classic (Comcast Channel 265 in the Centre Region), the Penn State Sports Network and www.GoPSUsports.com. Eastern Illinois (4-1) was ranked No. 24 in the Sept. 21 Sports Network Football Championship Subdivision poll.
A limited number of tickets remain for the game. Tickets can be purchased at GoPSUsports.com or by calling 800-833-5533.