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EAST LANSING, Mich. - Penn State exploded for 35 points during a 17-minute span to spark the Nittany Lions' 42-14 win over Michigan State in the annual battle for the Land Grant Tropy.
The victory moved Penn State to 10-2 overall and 6-2 in Big Ten play. The Nittany Lions earned their 21st season with at least 10 wins under Joe Paterno, who is the FBS all-time leader in 10-win seasons. Penn State recorded back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time since 1993 (10-2) and 1994 (12-0).
Penn State improved to 50-13 (79.3) since the start of the 2005 season, the nation's No. 8 winning percentage over that span. The Nittany Lions pushed their lead in the series to 14-12-1, including a 13-4 mark in Big Ten action.
The Nittany Lions recorded their second 4-0 Big Ten road record in Big Ten play, with the other time coming during Penn State's 12-0 campaign in1994. Penn State improved to 8-1 on the road the last two years.
As is typically the case when they meet in the regular season finale, the Nittany Lions and Spartans lit up the scoreboard. The teams have combined to score 1,060 points in their 17 conference games, an average of 62.3 points per game. Penn State has scored 608 points (35.7 avg.) and Michigan State has scored 452 points (26.6 avg.).
Penn State did not have any turnovers for the fourth time in the last six games and grabbed two interceptions. The Nittany Lions had 512 yards of total offense, their fourth game of 500 or more yards this season.
Senior quarterback Daryll Clark broke a scoreless tie by throwing a 29-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Quarless with 2:10 left in the first half to begin a burst that would see Penn State score 28 points in the third quarter to take control. Clark was selected Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for the third time of the season (most in the conference) and fifth time in his brilliant career.
Selected the first team all-conference signal-caller for the second consecutive year, Clark was sensational in his final regular season game, improving to 21-4 as the starter. He was 19 of 27 for 310 yards, the third-highest total of his career, with a career-high tying four touchdown passes and no interceptions. He tossed scoring strikes of 29, 30, 32 and 27 yards, boosting Penn State to eight plays of 20 yards or more from scrimmage.
Clark added to his impressive collection of Penn State records in the impressive win. He moved to the top of the list in career (42) and season (23) touchdown passes, breaking Todd Blackledge's season mark (22) from 1982. Clark also eclipsed Kerry Collins' season record for passing yardage (2,679 in 1994), finishing with 2,787 yards. Graham Zug and Andrew Quarless again delivered big games. Zug made four receptions for 99 yards, with 32 and 27-yard touchdown catches in the third quarter to break open the game, giving him a team-high seven TD catches for the season. Quarless made four catches for 62 yards and two scores, including a leaping 14-yard grab in the end zone from wideout Curtis Drake early in third period to give the Lions the lead for good. Derek Moye made four catches for 56 yards. On his first carry of the game, Evan Royster gained 22 yards, as he became the seventh Nittany Lion to gain at least 1,000 rushing yards more than once. He gained 114 yards on just 13 carries (8.8), including a 30-yard burst during the decisive third frame. Royster registered his 12th career 100-yard rushing game of his career and sixth this season. The Nittany Lions are 12-0 when he gains 100 yards.
Royster finished the game with 1,104 yards this season, good for No. 13 on the school season list. He moved into eighth place in Penn State career rushing yardage with 2,853 yards.
Michigan State became the eighth opponent to score 14 points or less this season. Penn State did not allow a 100-yard rusher for the 15th consecutive game, the nation's third-longest streak.
Navorro Bowman recorded 10 tackles (seven solo), with 3.5 TFL (minus-17), a sack and a pass break-up to lead another superb defensive effort. He posted his ninth career double figure tackle game and earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week accolades for the second consecutive game. Bowman tied a team season-high for TFLs in a game with 3.5, matching Jared Odrick's total from the Eastern Illinois game.
Sean Lee made seven tackles to move into fourth place in school career tackles with 319, passing Brian Gelzheiser (315). He also had a TFL and grabbed his third career interception. Josh Hull made seven stops and finished the regular season with a team-high 110 tackles. Making his first career start, freshman cornerback Stephon Morris tied his season-high with five stops and had a TFL.
Late in the second quarter, the defense forced another punt and the Lions took possession at the MSU 44. Quarless came in motion and Clark hit him in stride down the far sideline for a 29-yard touchdown. Collin Wagner's PAT kick made it 7-0 with 2:10 left in the second quarter.
The Spartans came right back, though, moving 87 yards in eight plays to tie the game. Completions of 20 and 24 yards took the ball deep into Penn State territory. Kirk Cousins threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end Charlie Gantt, who made a great catch in the end zone to tie the game, 7-7, with :45 left in the half.
The Nittany Lions then moved downfield, but Wagner's 51-yard field goal was wide left with :02 left in the half.
Stephfon Green returned the second half kickoff 37 yards to the Penn State 45 and the Nittany Lions quickly took advantage of the great field position. Moye made a superb 22-yard catch and the Spartans were called for roughing Clark on the play, taking the ball to the MSU 14. True freshman Drake then took a handoff and the former West Philadelphia High School quarterback pulled up and lofted a pass that Quarless went up a grabbed near the back of the end zone for a 14-7 lead just 1:07 into the second half. Penn State took just :59 to travel 55 yards in three plays, the Nittany Lions' 11th scoring drive under 1:00 this season.
The Nittany Lions again scored quickly later in the quarter. A 30-yard burst by Royster pushed him past 100 yards for the sixth time this season and 12th time in his career and took the ball to the MSU 30. On the next play, Joe Suhey made a leaping catch near the far sideline, kept his balance and crossed the goal line for his first career receiving touchdown. The longest catch of Suhey's career made it 21-7 with 6:19 left in the third period.
On Michigan State's next possession, Nick Sukay grabbed his second interception of the season, returning its 34 yards to the MSU 32. On first down, Zug broke free and Clark fired his third scoring strike of the game, tying the school career (41) and season (22) touchdown passing marks.
Lee grabbed his third career interception and returned it to the MSU 43. Clark then fired a 27-yard scoring strike to Zug to make it 35-7 with :15 left in the third quarter. The score gave Clark school records for career (42) and season (23) touchdown passes.
Clark was 6 of 6 for 130 yards and three touchdowns in the third quarter and was 8 of 8 for 147 yards in the second half before giving way to freshman Kevin Newsome.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Penn State forced its ninth punt of the game and with a catching interference penalty on the Spartans, took possession at the MSU 30. With Newsome leading the unit, he, Brent Carter and Michael Zordich ran six consecutive times, with Newsome scoring on a one yard run with 2:53 to play to make it 42-7.
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