Nittany Lions Blitz Northwestern, 34-13
Oct. 31, 2009
The No. 12/10 Nittany Lions won their fifth consecutive game, improving to 8-1 overall. Penn State improved to 4-1 in the Big Ten, moving into a second place tie with Ohio State with next week's showdown looming in Beaver Stadium's 300th game.
Penn State won its third Big Ten road game of the season, improving to 7-1 on the road the past two seasons. The Nittany Lions did not commit a turnover for the third consecutive game and forced two. During the five-game winning streak, Penn State has forced 11 turnovers and committed only two.
Northwestern led 13-10 at halftime, the first time Penn State has trailed at the break this season, but in the third quarter the Nittany Lion defense began to put the clamps down, holding the Wildcats to just two yards on nine plays in the quarter. Northwestern gained just 125 yards in the second half.
Meanwhile, the Penn State offense gained 301 yards in the second half to finish with 437, averaging 7.5 yards per play. The Nittany Lions were 4 of 4 in the Red Zone, improving to 26 of 26 (19 TD, 7 FG) over the past seven games.
The Nittany Lions forced a punt late in the third stanza and quickly took control with a devastating point explosion in the final period. A 25-yard completion from Daryll Clark to Derek Moye gave the Lions a first down at the NU 5 and two plays later, Brandon Beachum ran up the middle from two yards out, giving the visitors a 20-13 lead with 12:27 left in the game.
The defense forced a three-and-out and on first down, Clark fired a beautiful 53-yard scoring strike to Derek Moye, the longest reception of his career, to make it 27-13 with 10:16 to go. Moye's six catches tied his career-high for the third consecutive game and his 123 yards marked his third 100-yard effort of the season.
The Lions forced another three-and-out and took possession at their own 31. On first down, Evan Royster burst through the line and into a wide open field, zipping 69 yards for the longest run of his outstanding career. Collin Wagner's fourth PAT kick made it 34-13 with 8:47 to play to complete the 21-point outburst over 3:40.
Clark had another brilliant effort, going 22 of 31 (70.9) for 274 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. He also had six carries for 16 yards and his 20th career rushing touchdown, moving into a tie with Michael Robinson for first place in school rushing touchdowns by a quarterback. A semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award, Clark eclipsed 200 passing yards for the fourth consecutive game, as the Lions improved to 11-1 when he surpasses the mark.
During Penn State's five-game winning streak, Clark has thrown for nine touchdowns, run for five scores and has just one interception. He is school's career leader in touchdowns responsible for with 57 (37 passing, 20 rushing).
Royster gained 118 yards on just 15 carries (7.9), earning his fifth 100-yard game of the season and 11th of his career. Penn State is 11-0 when the Doak Walker Award candidate eclipses the century mark. Beachum gained 25 yards on just four carries, scoring his first touchdown of the season.
Senior linebacker Sean Lee made his first start since the Temple game and the Butkus Award candidate delivered a game-high 12 tackles (10 solo) to lead another outstanding defensive effort. The Nittany Lions recorded a season-high six sacks (minus-31) and had nine tackles for losses overall.
Junior linebacker Navorro Bowman made nine tackles and sophomore cornerback D'Anton Lynn had a career-high eight stops, including a tackle for loss. Sophomore safety Drew Astorino made six tackles and recovered a fourth quarter fumble and senior cornerback A.J. Wallace also had six hits.
Senior defensive tackle Jared Odrick was outstanding, recording five solo tackles, including a sack for minus-10-yards, and blocking a field goal in the second quarter that would have given the Wildcats the lead. Junior DT Ollie Ogbu also had a big day, with four solo stops, including a sack.
On the game's second play, Northwestern quarterback Mike Kafka fumbled and Jack Crawford pounced on the ball at the NU 23. Collin Wagner connected on a 32-yard field goal to give Penn State a 3-0 lead just 2:11 into the contest.
On the Wildcats' second possession, they took 7:25 off the clock, advancing 65 yards on 17 plays, with Stefan Demos hitting a 34-yard field goal to tie the game with 5:24 left in the opening period.
Northwestern took a 10-3 lead early in the second quarter, marching 80 yards in 2:37, as Kafka scored on a seven-yard run. Clark quickly led the Nittany Lions downfield later in the quarter to tie the game. He completed the 93-yard drive with a two-yard run with 3:39 left in the half to make it, 10-10. It was Clark's 20th career rushing touchdown, tying him with Robinson for rushing scores by a Penn State quarterback.
The Wildcats took the ensuing kickoff into Penn State territory, but the defense forced a 37-yard field goal by Demos, which was blocked by Odrick. The block was Penn State's first of a field goal since Odrick had one vs. Florida International in the 2007 season opener.
Penn State, though, was forced to punt in the final minute of the half and Demos connected on a 45-yard field goal with :03 left to give Northwestern a 13-10 halftime lead, marking the first time this season the Lions have trailed at half. The Wildcats gained 246 yards on 45 plays and held the ball for 18:12 in the first half, while Penn State gained 136 yards on just 26 plays.
Powell returned the second half kickoff to the Penn State to jump start the offense. The drive stalled inside the red zone and Wagner kicked a 23-yard field goal with 9:22 left in the third to make it 13-all.
The Penn State defense clamped down in the third quarter, allowing only two yards on nine plays, and the period ended with score still knotted at 13-13, but with the Lions on the move. Clark connected with Moye on a 25-yard pass to the NU 5. Two plays later, Beachum ran up the middle, giving the Lions a 20-13 lead with 12:27 to play and sparking the 21-point outburst.
Penn State returns to Happy Valley to begin a two-game homestand when it takes on No. 17/15 Ohio State on Saturday, Nov. 7. Kickoff for the critical Big Ten clash is set for 3:30 p.m. and the game will be regionally televised on ABC, with ESPN2 airing outside of the ABC coverage area to the rest of the nation. The Buckeyes are 7-2 (4-1 in the Big Ten) after thumping New Mexico State, 45-0, on Saturday.