Nittany Lions Defeat Indiana on Senior Day, 31-20
Nov. 14, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., November 14, 2009 - Penn State overcame a 10-0 first quarter deficit to beat Indiana, 31-20, on Senior Day, improving to 9-2 overall and 5-2 in Big Ten play. Twenty Nittany Lion seniors were introduced during a pre-game ceremony as Beaver Stadium hosted its final game of the season.
It was a pair of juniors, though, that helped spark the Nittany Lions to their 19th Senior Day win in the last 20 tries.
Linebacker Navorro Bowman grabbed his second interception of the season and returned it 73 yards for his second defensive touchdown to break a 10-10 third quarter tie. The All-America candidate recorded a team-high 12 tackles, with 2.0 TFL, a sack and a pass break-up to lead another stellar defensive effort. The Nittany Lions limited the Hoosiers to 48 rushing yards on 24 attempts, as Penn State held its sixth opponent of the season to 65 or fewer yards on the ground.
Tailback Evan Royster accumulated 134 all-purpose yards and scored twice. He gained 95 yards on 17 carries (5.6), moving within 10 yards of becoming the seventh Nittany Lion all-time with multiple 1,000-yard seasons.
The Nittany Lions improved to 11-1 in their next game after a loss since the start of the 2005 season, 12-1 if including the 2009 season opening win over Akron.
Penn State improved its series advantage to 13-0 over Indiana. Penn State has a 49-13 (79.0) record since the start of the 2005 season, among the nation's top 10 winning percentages. The Nittany Lions have won 33 of their last 37 games (89.2) in Beaver Stadium dating to the 2004 Senior Day win over Michigan State.
Penn State tied a season low for number of penalties with just two. The Nittany Lions also had two against Syracuse. The 10 penalty yards by Penn State today are a season-low and are the fewest penalty yards since having zero last year at Ohio State.
Bowman's 73-yard interception return for a touchdown was the first for Penn State since Nolan McCready returned a pick 76 yards at Illinois in 2005. It was Bowman's third career interception. He became the first Penn State defensive player to have two scores in a season for the Nittany Lions since Tony Davis had two fumble returns for touchdowns in 2006 (against Illinois and Tennessee).
Senior linebacker Josh Hull made eight tackles, giving him 103 for the season to become the 20th different Nittany Lion player all-time to record at least 100 tackles in a season. Penn State has had at least one player with 100 tackles for eight consecutive seasons.
Senior linebacker Sean Lee made 10 tackles, giving him five games this season with at least 10 tackles. He also had a career-high four pass breakups. Lee has 312 career tackles, good for fifth place at Penn State. Brian Gelzheiser is fourth with 315.
Sophomore safety Drew Astorino made a career-high 10 tackles.
Penn State extended its streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher to the 14 games. Coming into this weekend's games, Penn State was one of six FBS teams to not have allowed a 100-yard rusher this season.
Penn State got on the scoreboard on 33-yard field goal by Collin Wagner with 2:52 left in the second quarter to cut the lead to 10-3.
The Hoosiers missed a 47-yard field goal with less than a minute left in the half and Penn State quickly got moving to tie the game. An 18-yard pass from Clark to Brett Bracket was followed by a 26-yard reverse by Curtis Drake. Indiana was penalized for face mask penalty on the play, moving the ball to the IU 13. On second down, Clark hit Royster and he ran it for the touchdown with :06 left in the half. Wagner's PAT tied the game at 10-10, as the Lions marched 70 yards in just :45.
The Nittany Lions had an opportunity to take the lead on their first possession of the second half, but Wagner's 34-yard field goal attempt hit the upright.
Indiana moved into Penn State territory, but the Nittany Lion defense made the momentum-changing play. A Ben Chappell pass was tipped and Navorro Bowman grabbed his second interception of the season, cut up the middle and down the far sideline for a 73-yard touchdown to ignite the crowd of 107,379. Wagner's PAT made it 17-10 with 6:54 left in the third quarter.
The defense forced another punt and the Lions were on the move again from their own 27. Clark threw completions of 10 yards to Andrew Quarless and Joe Suhey to get the ball into IU territory. A nine-yard run by Stephfon Green and an eight-yard effort by Royster helped give Penn State a first-and-goal. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Royster ran it in from two yards to make it 24-10.
Indiana's Nick Freeland connected from 38 yards out to cut the Lions' lead to 24-13 with 10:43 to play. But, Clark and Royster led Penn State downfield for another score. Royster ran three times for 20 yards to get the drive started. Clark then connected with Curtis Drake (28 yards), Derek Moye (13 yards) and Suhey (9 yards) to get the Lions to the IU 5. One second-and-goal, Clark scored on a one-yard run for his 22nd career rushing touchdown, making it 31-13 with 4:08 to go.
Penn State will travel to face Michigan State on Saturday, Nov. 21 in the battle for the Land Grant Trophy. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. ET at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich. ABC will regionally televise the regular season finale and ESPN will air the game outside the ABC coverage area to the rest of the nation. The Spartans are 6-5 (4-3 in the Big Ten) after rallying to win at Purdue, 40-37, on Saturday.