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Oct. 13, 2007
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; - Penn State played its most complete game of the season, thumping No. 19/15 Wisconsin, 38-7, today in Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions improved to 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the Big Ten before a sun-splashed Homecoming throng of 109,754, the sixth-largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history.
Playing against its first ranked opponent this year, the Nittany Lions earned their largest margin of victory against a ranked foe since crushing No. 8 Nebraska, 40-7 in 2002. Penn State has won its last two games against ranked opponents, beating No. 17 Tennessee in the 2007 Outback Bowl.
The Nittany Lions have won 19 of their last 20 games at home, dating to the a win over Michigan State in the final game of the 2004 season.
Penn State ran for 221 yards and Anthony Morelli was 16 of 28 for 216 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. The Nittany Lions held Wisconsin to a season-low 87 rushing yards, 105 below its season average entering the game. Wisconsin tailback P.J. Hill was limited to 75 yards on the ground, 50 yards below his season average of 125 ypg. The Nittany Lions recorded five sacks, with two by sophomore defensive end Maurice Evans (Brooklyn, N.Y.), giving him seven sacks this season.
Penn State demonstrated it was ready to play from the opening kickoff. On Wisconsin's first play of the game, junior defensive end Josh Gaines (Fort Wayne, Ind.) caused Badger running back P.J. Hill to fumble at the Wisconsin 17 yard line. Junior linebacker Sean Lee (Pittsburgh) recovered the loose ball at the 12 and a three-play drive that took 1:08 resulted in the Nittany Lions' first touchdown of the day, courtesy of a Matt Hahn (Dix Hills, N.Y.) 1-yard run. The extra point from Kevin Kelly (Langhorne) made it 7-0 Penn State only 1:21 ticked off the clock.
After another short Wisconsin drive, a 12-yard run from Rodney Kinlaw (Goose Creek, S.C.) combined with Anthony Morelli (Pittsburgh) completions of 15 yards to Deon Butler (Woodbridge, Va.) and 18 yards to Terrell Golden (Norfolk, Va.) set up a field goal opportunity for the Nittany Lions. Kelly buried the 30-yarder to stretch the PSU lead to 10-0. The field goal was the 49th of Kelly's career, just one off Craig Fayak's school record of 50.
Wisconsin answered on the next drive, putting together a nine-play, 77-yard drive in just over four minutes. Hill scored from the one-yard line, cutting the Nittany Lion lead to 10-7.
Penn State held the three-point lead until its first drive of the second quarter when Penn State used two passing plays and an Evan Royster (Fairfax, Va.) run to score its first touchdown in the air. Morelli found Butler for back-to-back 12- and 29-yard completions, the second of which put six more points on the board for the Nittany Lions. With 13:00 minutes left in the second quarter, Penn State put the lead back to 10 points, 17-7. The touchdown catch was Butler's first of the season and the 12th of his career, moving him into sixth place on the PSU list.
After another great defensive stop that saw the Badgers only move 14 yards, Morelli and the offense systematically picked the Wisconsin defense apart. He three complete passes that for 38 yards to take the ball to the UW 19-yard line. On fourth and one, freshman running back Royster followed blocks by Gerald Cadogan (Portsmouth, Ohio) and Hahn, zipping to the score for a 24-7 lead.
With the second half explosion Nittany Lions have outscored the opposition 71-7 in the second quarter this season (14-0 today). Lee racked-up 10 tackles in the opening half, including one for loss, while Dan Connor (Wallingford, Pa.) tallied seven solo stops with a sack and a tackle for loss by halftime.
Penn State took the opening possession of the second half and marched 74 yards in 11 plays. Morelli threw a 19-yard completion to Golden and Kinlaw had 19 and 10-yard runs. Kinlaw finished the drive with a two-yard TD run, making it 31-7 with 11:31 left in the third quarter. Kinlaw earned his third career 100-yard rushing day, posting 115 yards on 23 carries.
Penn State has outscored its opponents 72-6 in the third quarter this season (7-0) today.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Badgers were stopped on a fourth-and-one at their own 43. Junior quarterback Daryll Clark (Youngstown, Ohio) entered the game and directed a quick scoring drive. Royster ran 14 yards, followed by a 17-yard burst by Clark to UW 1. Clark scored on the next play to make it 38-7 with 4:50 to play. Royster gained 68 yards on just eight carries (8.5) for the game.
Butler led the wideouts with seven receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown. Golden set career highs with five catches for 83 yards and sophomore tight end Mickey Shuler (Enola) made two catches for 21 yards.
Lee and Connor tied for game-high honors with 12 tackles apiece. Lee posted his fifth consecutive double figure tackle game, with 2.0 tackles for losses, a sack and the crucial early fumble recovery. Connor had 1.5 TFL, with a sack, and moved into second place on the Penn State career tackles list with 344, passing Greg Buttle. Junior cornerback Lydell Sargeant (Lompoc, Calif.) made eight tackles, grabbed an interception and had two pass break-ups. Junior safety Tony Davis (Warren, Ohio) made seven hits and junior safety Anthony Scirrotto (West Deptford, N.J.) had six tackles and a second quarter interception.
Evans had three solo tackles, all minus-yardage hits for 22 yards, with two sacks.
Penn State visits Indiana on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. ET for the first meeting between the schools since 2004. The game will air on ESPN, the Penn State Sports Network and GoPSUsports.com. The Hoosiers (5-2, 2-2) lost at Michigan State tonight.