|Score by Quarters
||OSU - Josh Huston 30-yard field goal
||PSU - Derrick Williams 13-yard run (Kelly kick)
||PSU - Michael Robinson 1-yard run (Kelly kick)
||OSU - Troy Smith 10-yard run (Huston kick)
||PSU - Kevin Kelly 41-yard field goal
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Scott Paxson scooped up the fumble, and Beaver
Stadium, cobbled together in various expansions over the decades like
a giant erector set, shook and rumbled beneath the joyful writhings of
"That," said Penn State freshman Deon Butler of the explosion
of 109,839 long-suffering fans, "was pure pandemonium."
Hali's sack of Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith near midfield with less
than 11/2 minutes to play produced the turnover that clinched
unbeaten Penn State's 17-10 victory over the sixth-ranked Buckeyes last
night and certified the Nittany Lions' return to national prominence.
"I never really felt like we were far away," said
coach Joe Paterno, the questions about his future silenced by the six
have opened the season.
A 41-yard field goal by freshman Kevin Kelly,
a graduate of Neshaminy High in Langhorne, midway through the third quarter
produced the only
points in a second half dominated by the defenses of these two teams
that, in many ways, mirror each other.
Ohio State managed just 230 yards
of offense, Penn State 195. Most of Penn State's attack came on careful
runs by Tony Hunt (16 for 64) and
Michael Robinson (14 for 52). Robinson threw only 20 passes,
completing 11 for 78 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. Penn
State did not turn the football over for a second straight week.
counterpart, Smith, hit on 13 of 25 throws for 139 yards and one huge
second-period interception by Calvin Lowry.
"I know you guys like offense," Paterno told reporters, "but
that was a great defensive football game. Those guys really got after
The victory over the favored visitors sent the crazed
crowd into a field-rushing postgame frenzy and likely will send the Lions
- No. 16 this week - catapulting
up in the national rankings.
"This is great," Hali said. "It's nice that we're eligible
for a bowl now. But the bowl we want is Big Rosie" - referring to
the Rose Bowl berth that goes to the Big Ten champions.
a 7-16 mark in 2003 and 2004, Penn State now has won eight straight over
two seasons, the third-longest such streak in the
country. The Nittany Lions, with a 3-0 conference mark, also are alone
atop the Big Ten.
Ohio State, picked as one of the top teams in the country
in the preseason, fell to 3-2.
A 13-yard run by freshman Derrick Williams - otherwise held
in check by the Buckeyes' aggressive defense - and a 1-yard scoring plunge
Robinson three plays after Lowry's interception allowed Penn State to
grab a 14-10 halftime lead.
Those second-quarter scores - 2 minutes, 27
seconds apart - overcame the 3-0 lead Ohio State had managed on Josh
Huston's 30-yard field goal
in the opening quarter.
The Buckeyes' other points came on Smith's 10-yard
run late in the half.
"I've been trying to be as conservative as I can be
in evaluating our football team," Paterno said. "But we're
getting better... . But I'm not going to get carried away with one win."
team could muster much of anything after the intermission.
the potentially explosive Buckeyes were just a touchdown away from tying
Penn State when, with under two minutes to go, Smith dropped back
on a second and 7 at the Nittany Lions' 48. Hali, a relentless defensive
end, got past his man and broke
free. "I was picking up speed, and I could see that he wasn't
looking," the senior said of Smith. "I hit him, and I saw the
ball come out. Then I saw Paxson pick it up. I was glad because I was kind
Once again, Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel couldn't figure out a way to get
the ball to sophomore speedster Ted Ginn. The dangerous receiver caught just
three passes for 40 yards and carried the ball twice for 5 yards.
"Our coaches did a great job designing a defense that
took away some of the things they like to do and some of the people they
like to go to," said linebacker Dan Connor, the sophomore from Strath
Haven High who, having returned from a suspension two games ago, made his
The game came at the end of a memorable Happy Valley day when a couple
of massive fronts stalled over Beaver Stadium.
One was marked by dark and ominously low clouds that dumped rain on the
tarp-covered grass field throughout the day. The other was more emotional than
meteorological, a game-day atmosphere thick with a level of enthusiasm that hadn't
blown into Happy Valley in years.
ESPN's GameDay telecast drew thousands to the area early in the morning,
the vocal student-supporters mingling with breakfasting tailgaters and frenzied
ticket-campers who had set up a colorful tent city - labeled "Paternoville" -
outside their entrance. Hours before the 7:45 p.m. start, crowds methodically
circled the stadium in nervous anticipation.
Once the gates opened, 20,000 students - virtually all of them wearing
white shirts - streamed into their fifth of the massive stadium, erupting into
a white froth whenever a Nittany Lions player emerged from the south end-zone
It was the type of energized scene that had been missing from Happy Valley
as the Nittany Lions endured four losing seasons this millennium.
And all that was topped by a postgame explosion that saw thousands of
fans rush the field. At one point, their mad scramble collapsed a low grandstand
fence, sending several students tumbling - apparently unhurt - to the wet grass
It was one more sign that this long-dormant program and its legendary
coach were, for the moment at least, back among the nation's elite.
"To have Penn State back in the mainstream is a very good thing,
not just for the Big Ten, but for all of college football," Big Ten commissioner
Jim Delany said.