|Penn State 52, Indiana 7|
|November 15, 2003|
|Beaver Stadium - University Park, PA|
|Kickoff Time: 12:10 p.m. EDT|
Pa. - The Penn State football team took six games' worth of frustration
out on conference cellar-dweller Indiana in a 52-7 win yesterday at Beaver
It was Penn State's first Big Ten win this season. The Nittany Lions (3-8, 1-6) had not won since Sept. 20, when they beat Kent State.
In their last home game of the season, the Lions came up with big plays for the victory, avoiding a school record for most losses in a season.
Senior wide receiver Tony Johnson, who has dropped numerous passes this season, and had problems off the field, scored a career-high three touchdowns on three catches.
For the first time in weeks, Penn State coach Joe Paterno faced reporters with a smile affer the game.
"I know I've been somewhat maligned this season, but I feel good for the kids and the coaches for winning today in the final home game," said Paterno, who is in the midst of Penn State's worst overall season since 1931, when the team finished 2-8 under Bob Higgins.
"I feel good for the kids and the staff," he said. "I feel good for me, too. I can go home now and relax a little."
The victory came against the worst defense in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers (2-9, 1-6) entered the game allowing an average of 432.3 yards and 31.2 points per game.
"Of course you have to keep that in mind, but we were happy to finally get a win, have some success, and score some points," said junior quarterback Zack Mills, who completed 12 of 19 passes for 173 yards and three touchdowns. "It's a lot better than the last six, seven weeks."
A substantial part of Penn State's improvement on offense can be attributed to Johnson and receiver Maurice Humphrey. Both players were standing on the sidelines when Paterno came up to them and grabbed one in each hand.
"Me and Tony were standing on the sideline in the beginning of the game and he's taking us like this," Humphrey said, shaking both of his hands. "He's like, 'You guys gotta win the game for us.' I was just like, 'All right.' "
Humphrey led Penn State with 121 yards and one touchdown on five catches. Johnson, who was suspended after being charged with drunken driving earlier in the season, finished with 47 yards. Two of his touchdowns came in the first quarter, and Humphrey grabbed a 33-yard touchdown reception to send Penn State to the locker room with a 21-7 lead.
"We're just having fun," Humphrey said. "We had a lot of chances to make big plays this year and we didn't make them. There was a lot of pressure because we were losing a lot. Now we're just like, hey, there are two games left. What's to lose? Nothing. The only thing we have to do is get better and take chances. That's what we did today."
For the first time this season, the Nittany Lions scored on their opening drive. Trailing by 7-0, Mills threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Johnson. Penn State took the lead on its second possession, which began at its own 4-yard line. Mills connected with Johnson again, this time on a 5-yard TD pass.
The play was set up by a 57-yard pass to senior tight end Mike Lukac, who was stopped at the 5-yard line.
"Joe wanted to open it up and throw deep," Mills said. "Plus, we saw on tape throughout the course of the week we'd have some opportunities to make some plays down the field."
Redshirt sophomore Michael Robinson, who played quarterback, tailback and receiver, led Penn State with 85 rushing yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Two of Penn State's touchdowns were scored by the defense. Senior Yaacov Yisrael blocked a punt in the third quarter, and safety Andrew Guman ran it in 8 yards for a touchdown. Freshman linebacker Paul Posluszny intercepted a pass in the fourth quarter and ran it back 15 yards for a touchdown.
Indiana running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for a career-best 203 yards on 42 carries. He was the 12th running back to rush for at least 100 yards against Penn State this season. The Hoosiers racked up 379 yards of offense and 25 first downs but were unable to score more than once.
Paterno said he was pleased with the win, but that doesn't change the grim picture of a season in which the Lions have lost eight games, the most in his career.
"We've been working hard to get these kids over the hump and show them that hard work pays off," he said. "We've been preaching to hang on to the ball and limit mistakes and play hard. The win helps us out to show the guys that it can be done."
Notes: Michael Robinson had a career-best 85 rushing yards on 11 carries......Safety Anwar Phillips got his first career sack......LB Derek Wake had two sacks, a personal best......Over its past four games, Penn State has forced nine turnovers while committing only three. Yesterday was the first time this year the Lions did not have a turnover......Tight end Mike Lukac's 57-yard reception in the third quarter was the longest of his career.