|Score by Quarters
||PSU - Michael Robinson 1-yard run (Kelly kick)
||CIN - Kevin Lovell 24-yard field goal
||PSU - Patrick Hall 3-yard pass from Robinson (Kelly
||PSU - Justin King 59-yard pass from Robinson (Kelly
||PSU - Austin Scott 1-yard run (kelly kick)
||CIN - Derick Ross 27-yard pass from Grutza (Lovell kick)
||PSU - Deon Butler 45-yard pass from Robinson (Kelly kick)
||PSU - Anthony Morelli 1-yard run (Kelly kick)
||CIN - Bradley Glatthaar 2-yard run (Pass failed)
||CIN - E. Jackson 5-yard pass from Davila (E. Jackson pass from Davila)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Eight months ago, in a cold and uncertain January,
a somewhat skeptical Michael Robinson turned out for Penn State's 7-on-7
The senior quarterback had been hearing and reading about
how the Nittany Lions' speedy freshman receivers were going to make a
formerly earthbound attack lift off. Now he wanted to see if all that
hopeful hype was warranted.
"I was leery at first," Robinson recalled. "And
then I hooked up with Derrick Williams on a 50-yard touchdown pass and
I said, 'Oh, my God, I can't even overthrow him.' "
Yesterday, in a 15-minute span that confirmed all the preseason
optimism about Penn State's young playmakers and recalled the Lions' jet-propelled
'94 offense, Robinson hooked up with three freshmen on breathtaking bombs
that cemented a 42-24 victory over Cincinnati.
"Those plays were really a boost for our confidence,"
redshirt freshman receiver Deon Butler said. "We knew we could beat
Justin King caught a 59-yard touchdown pass with 9:58 left
in the third quarter to give Penn State a 21-3 advantage. On the Lions'
next offensive play, Robinson and Williams teamed up on a 41-yarder to
the Bearcats' 6 that Austin Scott followed, within seconds, with a 1-yard
Finally, 51/2 minutes into the final quarter, Butler outfought
cornerback Mike Mickens for a 45-yard pass in the end zone to give Penn
State (2-0) a 25-point edge, 35-10.
They were the kind of high-energy, game-breaking plays that
the leadfooted 2004 Lions - whose longest pass play was a 49-yarder to
Robinson - could only dream about.
"Last year, I was really the only guy who could go deep,"
said Robinson, who split time between QB and wideout in '04. "Now
I drop back and I don't know who to throw it to. They're all getting open."
Robinson, despite a shaky first half and another interception
and fumble, hit on 11 of 17 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns
- the other a 3-yard second-quarter pass to Patrick Hall.
Williams caught four balls for 60 yards and collected an additional
23 on three rushes. Butler had two catches for 73. The two-way King's
only reception - the 59-yarder - was the key that unlocked the Lions'
stalled passing game.
"They're freshmen, and they're going to get better,"
coach Joe Paterno said. "They'll get smarter. Their timing will develop.
But they're already good solid football players."
With the victory, Penn State moved to 2-0 for the first time
since 2002. With Central Michigan next week, the Lions ought to be 3-0
when they begin their Big Ten schedule a a week later at Northwestern.
The big second-half plays delighted a sun-splashed crowd of
98,727 at Beaver Stadium, the same fans who earlier had booed Robinson
when he displayed the same inaccuracy that had plagued him in the opening
victory over South Florida.
"He had been pressing a little," Paterno said of his
quarterback. "He missed a couple of deep balls in the first half, but
I told [offensive coaches Galen Hall and Jay Paterno] that if we can keep
beating them, keep throwing it deep."
Robinson used his legs when his arm misfired, running 10 times
for a game-high 62 yards and a score. Tailback Tony Hunt added 44 yards
on 11 carries and the resurfaced Austin Scott had 32 on 10.
If there was a disappointment for Penn State, it was that the
defense's streak of not having allowed more than 21 points in a game since
the final contest in 2003 came to an end.
Cincinnati, whose nimble freshman quarterback, Dustin Grutza,
proved elusive all day, scored twice in the final 39 seconds. The second
score came against a weary set of starters, who were reinserted to try to
protect their streak.
"We were a little fatigued... . But there was some miscommunication
about what coverage we were in," safety Chris Harrell said. "And
they took advantage of the confusion. We really wanted that streak to continue,
but we told each other we weren't going to let anybody else put up 20 points
on that scoreboard."
Grutza, who led Cincinnati over Eastern Michigan in its season-opening
win a week earlier, threw 47 passes, completing 27 for 286 yards, including
a 27-yard TD pass to Derrick Ross. He ran - mostly for his life - 14 times
and was sacked four times.
"On film, they looked like a power running team,"
Penn State defensive tackle Jay Alford said. "So he surprised us a
little when he came out throwing the ball. He was slippery but we eventually
got used to him."
The closest Cincinnati got was 7-3 on Kevin Lovell's 24-yard
field goal with 10:11 remaining in the second quarter. After Ross' catch
late in the third period left the score 28-10, the Bearcats didn't score
again until Brad Glatthaar's 2-yard run with 39 seconds left. Twenty-one
seconds later, after a recovered onside kick, Earnest Jackson caught a 5-yard
scoring pass from backup Nick Davila.
Sophomore Anthony Morelli engineered Penn State's final scoring
drive, marching the Lions 52 yards on 12 plays and sneaking it in himself
from a yard out. "It felt great to finally get in there and contribute,"