|Score by Quarters
||PSU - Deon Butler 42-yard pass from Morelli (Kelly
||PSU - Kevin Kelly 39-yard field goal
||PSU - Jordan Norwood 14-yard pass from Morelli (Kelly
||AKR - Matt Domonkos 46-yard field goal
||AKR - Dennis Kennedy 4-yard run (Domonkos kick)
||PSU - Derrick Williams 20-yard pass from Morelli (Kelly kick)
||PSU - Tony Hunt 5-yard run (Kelly kick)
||PSU - Kevin Kelly 42-yard field goal
||AKR - D. Harvey 27-yard pass from Getsy (Domonkos kick)
UNIVERSITY PARK -- The cat long since out of the bag, Tim Shaw could
finally talk about Penn State's 3-4 defense.
"We've been doing it for a little while," the
senior linebacker admitted Saturday.
The 19th-ranked Nittany Lions opened
their season with an up-and-down, 34-16 defeat of Akron before 106,505
drenched fans in Beaver Stadium,
showing off a variety of personnel and formations on both sides of the
Despite persistent dismissals of the 3-4 switch by head coach
Joe Paterno during the preseason, Penn State opened the game with three down
and four linebackers, with sophomore Sean Lee starting at linebacker
and the 6-foot-1, 235-pound Shaw rushing the passer or dropping into
The Nittany Lions also utilized their base 4-3, a nickel package,
a penny package and even what appeared to be a 2-4-5.
"We've done that before, just a little bit differently today," said
defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, who addressed the formation switching
with a laugh. "I'd like to say it's revolutionary, but it's really
What it did was hold quarterback Luke Getsy and the Zips offense
to 225 yards on 77 plays -- a paltry 2.9-yard average -- and help the Lions
force three turnovers. Bulked-up junior linebacker Dan Connor led all
defensive players with 13 tackles and, like Shaw, had two of Penn State's
"I don't think what they did caused us a lot of problems," said
Getsy, who threw for just 160 yards and a pair of interceptions on 22-of-42
passing. "They did a little something different at first than what
we expected and we had to adjust to what they were doing."
Lions' offense wasn't much better in a steady rain, mustering 282 yards
on 59 plays. Paterno, who opened his 41st season with his 355th
career win, was less than pleased with his offensive line, which broke
in four new starters Saturday.
"I thought they got their ears kicked in today," he said. "Simple
What bailed the Lions out was the big play, and they got
them from expected and unexpected sources. Junior quarterback Anthony Morelli
touchdown passes and no interceptions in his starting debut, sophomore
wide receiver Derrick Williams quietly totaled 116 yards on nine touches
and sophomore wideout Jordan Norwood, a State College High School graduate,
grabbed a career-high seven passes.
A pair of true freshmen were just as
impressive. Six-foot-three receiver Chris Bell snagged a 19-yard pass from Morelli,
and two-way threat A.J.
Wallace picked up 42 yards on a reverse and 95 yards on a pair of kickoff
"They did great," Williams said. "I think they did
better than me in my first game."
On a day when its defense displayed
its versatility, Penn State's offense displayed balance -- at least in
the passing game. Six different receivers
caught passes from Morelli, who threw touchdowns to three different receivers.
a tackle-breaking 19-yard run on the first series, senior tailback Tony Hunt
was held to 17 net yards on his final 13 carries.
"It's nice to have (the passing game), but I'm a run guy," said
left tackle Levi Brown, the lone returning starter on the offensive line. "The
sooner we can get this running game on the right path, the happier I'll
A personal foul -- one of eight Akron penalties -- stalled the Zips' opening
drive at their own 33, and Penn State didn't waste time. Williams picked up eight
yards on an end-around, Hunt charged for 19 and Morelli's first pass of the season
found its way through the rain and two defenders to Deon Butler for a 42-yard
touchdown pass with 10:02 left in the first quarter.
Morelli was 5-for-7 for 55 yards on Penn State's next drive, which ended
in a 39-yard field goal from Kevin Kelly as the first quarter ended.
in from the outside, sacked Getsy on the next series, a three-and-out, and a
reverse from Williams to Wallace went for 42 yards and set Penn State up
at the Akron 20. Three plays later, Morelli dumped a pretty touch pass over the
middle to Norwood, who raced in from 14 yards out to make it 17-0 with 11:39
left before the half.
Then the Nittany
Lions became the "sloppy" team that Paterno would refer to later. The
defense continued to hold, but the offense began to stall and the special teams
handed Akron back some momentum.
Penn State holder Jason Ganter slipped during a fake field-goal attempt
and later bobbled a second snap, and Terrell Golden roughed Akron punter John
Stec deep in Zip territory, keeping alive a drive that resulted in a 46-yard
John Domonkos field goal.
Wallace returned the second half kickoff 41 yards but fumbled at midfield.
Eleven plays later, the Zips found the end zone on a 4-yard run from Dennis Kennedy,
though Domonkos missed the extra point.
Wallace immediately redeemed himself with a 54-yard return, however, and
a brisk six-play, 40-yard drive ended with Morelli floating a pass down the left
sideline to Williams, who hauled it in to put Penn State up 24-9 early in the
third quarter and send many of the soggy fans headed home happy.
"The goal every week is to get a win, it don't matter how it's done," Brown
said. "This was an ugly one; we didn't have the running game that we thought
we would have. Morelli had to step up and the receivers made big plays. One thing
falls, you just rely on another."
As they begin preparations for next week's visit to South Bend and No.
2 Notre Dame, the Nittany Lions are still very much in the stages of determining
what works and what doesn't.
"This game was a learning game. We have some things we've got to
fix and get into the rotation, but we'll be good," said defensive tackle
Jay Alford. "We have to learn some things on the run, but I think we'll
do well, because we have talent. And talent can overcome the experience part."