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Nov. 15, 2008
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., November 15, 2008 -- Penn State held Indiana to 180 yards of total offense and six first downs, the fewest the Nittany Lions have allowed in a Big Ten game, en route to a 34-7 win today in Beaver Stadium.
The No. 8/7 Nittany Lions improved to 10-1 overall and 6-1 in the Big Ten, earning their 20th season with at least 10 wins under Coach Joe Paterno. Penn State concludes the season on Saturday, hosting Michigan State on Senior Day, with the winner earning at least a share of the Big Ten Championship. The No. 15 Spartans (9-2, 6-1) were idle today.
Senior wide receiver Deon Butler became Penn State's career receptions leader with 172, making five catches for 56 yards and a touchdown to pass All-American Bobby Engram (167).
After the Hoosiers tied the game, 7-7, on a 57-yard by Marcus Thigpen with 11:24 to play in the second quarter, the Penn State defense shut down Indiana. At halftime, the Hoosiers had five first downs and 144 yards, but in the second half, they could only muster one first down and 36 yards against the Nittany Lions.
Indiana came into the game averaging 378.4 yards of total offense, but was held almost 200 yards below its average. The Hoosiers were averaging 202.6 passing yards, but were limited to only 57, completing 9 of 23 passes with one interception. Indiana's 180 yards were the fewest for a Penn State opponent in a Big Ten game since Iowa gained 168 yards in 2004.
Twenty-three Nittany Lions recorded at least one tackle, led by junior linebacker Josh Hull with seven. He also recorded his first career sack. Sophomore defensive end Aaron Maybin had five tackles and delivered his Big Ten-leading 12th sack of the season. Sophomore linebacker Navorro Bowman also had five stops and a pass break-up.
The Nittany Lions gained 442 yards, with 258 passing and 184 rushing. Junior quarterback threw for 240 yards, just four off his career-high, and set career-highs with 20 completions and 36 attempts. Clark threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Williams to open the scoring and a six-yard scoring strike to Butler in the third quarter. For the season, Clark has 13 touchdown passes and just four interceptions.
Williams delivered another outstanding effort, accumulating 164 all-purpose yards, the second-highest total of his career, on the heels of 154 yards last week at Iowa. Williams ran for a career-high 61 yards on just four carries (15.2), including a career-long 36-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. His 39-yard TD catch was his longest career reception.
The final member of the standout senior wideout triumvirate, Jordan Norwood, made a game-high seven receptions for 69 yards. Butler, Norwood and Williams combined for 16 receptions for 187 yards against the Hoosiers.
Sophomore tailback Evan Royster gained 63 yards on 12 carries, including a 19-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter. He has 1,123 yards this season, good for No. 11 on the Penn State season rushing yardage list, with Curtis Enis (1,210 in 1996) next on the list.
Senior kicker Kevin Kelly connected on two field goals and scored 10 points, moving into third place on the NCAA career kick scoring list with 412 points. Kelly is second in Big Ten and tied for seventh in NCAA overall scoring with Indiana's Anthony Thompson. Kelly has 77 career field goals, good for 10th place in NCAA annals.
Senior safety Mark Rubin grabbed his second interception of the season at the IU 6 to give the Nittany Lions a great opportunity in the first quarter. But, on first down, Clark was hit and fumbled, with the Hoosiers recovering at the IU 2.
Penn State forced a punt early in the second quarter and the Lions quickly took the lead. Clark hit Williams in stride at the IU 6 and he bypassed a Hoosier defender for a 39-yard touchdown with 12:09 left in the second period. The scoring strike was Clark's 12th of the season.
The Hoosiers came right back to tie the game. Tailback Marcus Thigpen looked like he was going to be hit after a short gain, but avoided would-be tacklers, swung to the right and went 57 yards for the touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 with 11:24 left in the half.
Late in the half, freshman Nate Stupar blocked his second punt of the year, with the Lions taking over the IU 20. But, Penn State was forced to bring Kelly onto the field and he connected on a 32-yard field goal, extending his NCAA record to 31 consecutive games with at least one field goal. The Nittany Lions scored in the final minute of the first half for the seventh time this season and took a 10-7 lead into halftime.
Penn State took its opening possession of the second half 61 yards in eight plays to extend its lead to 17-7. Royster broke free up the middle, fought off three would-be tacklers and scored on a 19-yard run with 11:51 left in the third quarter.
The Nittany Lions forced a three-and-out and quickly moved 40 yards, with Kelly connecting on a 36-yard field goal with 8:20 left for a 20-7 lead.
On the Hoosiers' next possession, punter Chris Hagerup ran on fourth down and was stopped short of the first down marker, at the IU 29. Following a big run for a first down by Clark, he connected with Butler on a six-yard touchdown pass with 2:31 left in the third for a 27-7 lead.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Williams zipped 36 yards for the score, his longest career run, to make it 34-7 and close the scoring.
Penn State hosts Michigan State on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in the regular season finale. The Nittany Lion seniors will be introduced before the game. The clash for the Land Grant Trophy will have significant Big Ten Championship implications, with the winner claiming no worse than a share of the Big Ten Championship. With a Penn State win, the Nittany Lions would be the Big Ten's automatic representative to the Bowl Championship Series The Spartans are idle on Saturday. The contest will air on ABC/ESPN the Penn State Sports Network and GoPSUsports.com.