|Score by Quarters
||IU - Courtney Roby 26-yard run (Robertson
||PSU - Michael Robinson 33-yard pass
from Mills (Gould kick)
||IU - Kyle Killion 46-yard interception return (Robertson
||PSU - Zack Mills 2-yard run (Gould kick)
||IU - Bryan Robertson 23-yard field goal
||PSU - Tony Hunt 2-yard run (Zack Mills rush)
||IU - TEAM Safety
BLOOMINGTON, Indiana - Scott Paxson rose from the twisted pile of players
near the Penn State goal line and, with a vertical leap he estimated
to be about three inches, the Nittany Lions defensive tackle did a celebratory
chest bump with defensive end Matthew Rice.
Nearby, linebacker Dan Connor
did his best imitation of a pogo stick, jumping up and down with joy.
The last time Penn State had won a football
game, on Sept. 18, the leaves had yet to turn and the fans at Beaver
Stadium had needed sunscreen.
"I can just about remember," Paxson said. "I
haven't felt like this in a while."
On a crisp, clear, chilly afternoon yesterday
at Memorial Stadium before 24,092, the smallest crowd to see them play
this season, the Lions broke
a six-game losing streak with a 22-18 road victory over Indiana in a
Big Ten Conference game.
The Lions (3-7, 1-6 conference) did it with a
sturdy goal-line stand in the closing moments by a defense that all season
long has refused
to allow an inept offense to drag it down.
As several Penn State players
conceded afterward, beating the Hoosiers (3-7, 1-6), perennial Big Ten
doormats, didn't mean that all was well
in Happy Valley. Far from it. But it certainly was better than the alternative.
"It feels good to win, but at the same time, if you play
for Penn State, you expect to beat teams such as Indiana - not to take
away from them," said Michael Robinson, who initially was ruled
out of bounds on a 33-yard touchdown catch late in the first quarter
before being awarded the TD after a video review.
"So it was more of a sense of relief. It's like, 'All right,
we can take a deep breath now. We know we can do some things. We know
offense works on occasion,' " Robinson said with a laugh. "But
it was mostly a sigh of relief."
The Penn State defenders were joyful
not only because of the win, but also because they had just been to grunt
heaven and loved every minute
After Penn State took a 22-16 lead on Tony Hunt's 2-yard run with
4 minutes, 51 seconds remaining, Indiana moved to the Lions' 1-yard line
on the strength of a pair of 29-yard passes from Matt LoVecchio to Travis
The Hoosiers had four chances to get across the goal line and hand
Penn State its most humiliating loss of a grim season.
After defensive tackle
Ed Johnson and linebackers Paul Posluszny and Derek Wake made the tackles
that kept Indiana out of the end zone on
the first three downs, the Hoosiers advertised their intention by lining
up in a stacked I-formation - three running backs behind the quarterback.
Translation: We're coming up the middle. Try to stop us.
"At that point, it's kind of like a fight," said Connor, the
talented freshman from Strath Haven High who made 11 tackles, giving
him 27 over the last two games. "It's like two rams smashing into
each other, and that's what you live for if you're a football player.
You live for goal-line stands like that."
When running back Chris Taylor went up the middle for Indiana,
he was met by a pack of Nittany Lions. Paxson, a 275-pound junior from
Philadelphia's Roman Catholic High, hit him low. Posluszny, Lavon Chisley,
Paul Cronin and Alan Zemaitis were also involved in stopping Taylor cold
with 55 seconds remaining.
"I think just about everyone was part of it," Paxson said. "Hey,
we live for this. It was awesome. All 11 of us knew we could do it."
On Penn State's ensuing possession, punter Jeremy Kapinos intentionally
gave Indiana a safety by stepping out of the end zone as he ran out the
It seemed only fitting that the defense, which went into the game ranked
10th nationally in points allowed (15.2 per game), saved the win. But the offense,
which had scored four TDs in the last six games, was actually functional, providing
the Lions with the highest point total of the season in a conference game.
Zack Mills had a strong second half and finished 11 for 19 for 169 yards.
He also ran for a 2-yard TD. That was after he got off to a bad start, throwing
an ill-advised pass that was intercepted by Paul Szczesny at the Penn State 28.
Indiana then grabbed a 7-0 lead on a 26-yard run by Courtney Roby.
Anthony Morelli, the freshman Penn State fans had been pressing
coach Joe Paterno to play, came in late in the first quarter for Mills
and played, well, like a freshman who'd gotten little playing time. He
tossed an interception that was returned 46 yards for a TD by linebacker
Kyle Killion, giving the Hoosiers a 13-7 lead.
"I asked E.Z. [center E.Z. Smith] how Anthony was in the huddle,
and he said he was a little slow getting things out and getting things processed," Mills
said. "But that's to be expected with him. That is the first time he's been
in there in a tight situation in the middle of the game."
Morelli left the game with a gimpy ankle after Killion sacked him for
a 12-yard loss on a blitz.
Penn State regained the lead at 14-13 in the third quarter on Mills' 2-yard
dive, but Indiana forced the Nittany Lions to play catch-up again when Bryan
Robertson kicked a 23-yard field goal midway through the fourth.
On its game-winning drive, Penn State was helped by a personal foul on
the Hoosiers' Chris Voltattorni, who gave Robinson a forearm shiver after Robinson
had run out of bounds on a 12-yard catch. Voltattorni wasn't even in the game.
"He was just on the sideline, chillin'," said Robinson, who
exchanged words with the 295-pound offensive lineman. "Can't tell you what
I said to him. It'll get me in trouble."