Nittany Lions Earn Hard-Fought Road Win
Oct. 20, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Senior quarterback Anthony Morelli directed four long touchdown drives and the Penn State defense forced four second half turnovers to lead the No. 25 Nittany Lions to a hard-fought 36-31 win at Indiana.
The Nittany Lions improved to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the Big Ten with their third straight win, while the Hoosiers fell to 5-3, 2-3. Penn State improved to 11-0 all-time against Indiana. With the victory, Penn State is eligible to play in its 34th bowl game under Coach Joe Paterno, who is the all-time leader in bowl appearances and victories (22-10-1).
Penn State appeared to put the game away with 4:03 to play, when Rodney Kinlaw scored on a five-yard run to complete a 77-yard drive. But, IU quarterback Kellen Lewis darted 58 yards for a touchdown with 2:57 to play to bring the Hoosiers within 36-31. The run was just the second this season of more than 20 yards by an opponent.
The Lions were forced to punt, but redshirt freshman Jeremy Boone boomed a punt that rolled to the IU five yard-line, good for 68 yards, to put the Hoosiers in a big hole with 1:43 to play. Indiana moved to its own 34, but Lewis fumbled and redshirt freshman Abe Koroma pounced on the pigskin with :40 to end the Hoosiers' last chance.
Sophomore defensive end Maurice Evans delivered a superlative effort as he continues his emergence as one of top defensive linemen in the nation. He made six tackles (five solo), setting career-highs with 4.5 tackles for losses, 3.5 sacks for minus-36, two forced fumbles, a 55-yard fumble return and a pass break-up.
Junior cornerback Justin King made a career-high nine tackles (eight solo) with three pass break-ups against the Hoosiers potent passing attack. Junior defensive end Josh Gaines, playing in his home state, made a career-high seven stops, including a sack. Junior Lydell Sargeant made seven tackles and senior linebacker Dan Connor made six hits. Sophomore cornerback A.J. Wallace made five hits and had an important fumble recovery, and sophomore DT Chris Baker made five stops with a TFL.
Morelli was 22 of 32 for 195 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. He moved into fourth place on the Penn State career completions list with 373, passing Kerry Collins (370, 1991-94) and Chuck Fusina (371, 1975-78). Junior wide receiver Jordan Norwood made a career-high eight receptions for 65 yards, with one touchdown, and junior wideout Derrick Williams made five catches for 47 yards and accumulated 130 all-purpose yards. Senior WR Terrell Golden made four catches for 40 yards and one score and junior wideout Deon Butler made four grabs for 38 yards.
Redshirt freshman tailback Evan Royster gained 68 yards on 12 carries (5.7) with one touchdown and Kinlaw gained 66 yards on 22 attempts. Senior fullback Matt Hahn set career-highs with 43 yards on five carries before leaving the game with a serious knee injury in the fourth quarter.
Indiana (32) and Penn State (29) entered the game ranked 1-2 in the nation in sacks, but it was the Nittany Lions that won that battle, recording six sacks for minus-58 yards. The Penn State offensive line was effective in protecting Morelli, allowing only two sacks for minus-13 yards.
Junior placekicker Kevin Kelly made three field goals, giving him 52 in his career, to break Craig Fayak's school record of 50.
Indiana took its first possession 80 yards to grab a quick 7-0 lead. Lewis connected with 6-7 wideout James Hardy from eight yards out 3:26 into the game.
Late in the first quarter and into the second the Nittany Lions put together an impressive drive to get on the scoreboard. On third down, Anthony Morelli fired a 13-yard scoring strike to Terrell Golden to make it 7-6. Kevin Kelly's extra point was wide left, his first PAT miss over the past two seasons and just the second in 107 career PAT attempts. The 13-play, 90-yard drive was the longest of the season for Penn State for plays and yards.
Indiana came right back, going up 14-6 with 7:41 left in the second quarter on a 30-yard pass from Lewis to running back Marcus Thigpen.
The Nittany Lions dominated the remainder of the half, scoring twice to take the lead. A 15-yard run by Matt Hahn and an 11-yard run by freshman Evan Royster set-up a two-yard run by Royster to cap a 70-yard drive with 3:39 to play. Kelly's PAT made it 14-13.
Penn State forced a three-and-out, with defensive end Maurice Evans and linebacker Sean Lee combining on a 12-yard sack on third down. Completions of 14 and 7 yards to Deon Butler got the Lions to the IU 12. On first down, Morelli found Jordan Norwood who went into the end zone untouched with :39 left in the half. The catch was Norwood's seventh of the half, tying his career-high (7 vs. Akron, 2006). Kelly's PAT made it 20-14 at halftime.
The Nittany Lions improved their impressive second quarter scoring advantage to 91-14 for the season with the three scores in the period.
Penn State gained 267 yards in the first half, with Anthony Morelli going 16 of 20 for 143 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. Norwood made seven catches for 59 yards and a score, Butler had four receptions for 38 yards and Golden made three catches for 33 yards and a touchdown. Royster gained 45 yards on eight carries and Kinlaw had 33 yards on 10 attempts to lead the ground game.
The Nittany Lions were forced to punt on their opening possession of the second half, but cornerback A.J. Wallace pounced on a muffed catch on the punt return at the IU 12. Kelly connected on a 22-yard field goal with 10:21 to play to extend the lead to 23-14. The field goal was the 50th of Kelly's career, tying Craig Fayak for the Penn State career lead.
Midway through the third period, Royster fumbled and the Hoosiers recovered at the PSU 25. The defense, though, did not permit a first down and IU was forced to kick a field goal, with Austin Starr connecting from 33 yards out, to cut the lead to 23-17 with 5:30 left in the third.
Later in the third quarter, Evans made arguably the play of the game. Evans sacked Lewis, forcing a fumble at the PSU 32, which he picked up and returned 55 yards to the IU 13. Kelly made a 21-yard field goal for a 26-17 lead. The trey was the 51st of his career, giving him the Penn State career lead.
Evans continued his torrid play on IU's next possession. He grabbed Lewis' jersey and swung him, forcing a fumble that Phil Taylor recovered at the IU 7. The Lions, though, were forced to bring on Kelly again and he connected on a 20-yard attempt to push the lead to 29-17 with 12:30 to play.
Indiana then drove 80 yards, capping the drive on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Lewis to a leaping Hardy in the end zone to draw within 29-24 with 8:06 to play.
The Nittany Lions have won 28 of their last 35 games, dating to a 22-18 win at Indiana in 2004.
Penn State hosts No. 1 Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET. The game will air nationally on ABC, the Penn State Sports Network and GoPSUsports.com. A Student White Out has been declared for the clash. The Buckeyes will be the first No. 1 team to play in Beaver Stadium since Notre Dame in 1989.