|Score by Quarters
||PSU - Kevin Kelly 49-yard field goal
||PSU - A.J. Wallace 76-yard run (Kelly kick)
||PSU - Tony Hunt 11-yard run (Kelly kick)
||PSU - Kevin Kelly 28-yard field goal
||YSU - Brian Palmer 33-yard field goal
||PSU - Derrick Williams 4-yard run (Kelly kick)
||PSU - Kevin Kelly 36-yard field goal
||PSU - Darryl Clark 18-yard run (Kelly kick)
UNIVERSITY PARK -- The brake lights blinked sporadically in the darkness
Saturday as 104,954 fans slowly made their way out of the parking lots
and down Park Avenue. Many had expected to be halfway home by that time.
Penn State's 37-3 win over Youngstown State was, in the end, what
the No. 25 Nittany Lions wanted -- a win, a chance for younger players
to see the field and, with one exception, an empty trainer's table.
In the beginning, it was a display of sloppy sleepwalking the Nittany
Lions hope isn't becoming a trend.
"We can't afford to go into the middle of the second quarter
before we decide to put some points up," said left tackle Levi Brown,
"against a team like Ohio State."
That's precisely what the Lions did against the Penguins, a well-coached
and determined Division I-AA team but a Division I-AA team nonetheless.
Penn State was scoreless for the first 20 minutes and nine seconds of
play -- a week after going scoreless for the first 33:31 in a 41-17 loss
at Notre Dame -- and know that a similar start Saturday at No. 1 Ohio
State could prove fatal.
There were positives, to be sure. The Nittany Lions (2-1) did rip
off 20 points in the rest of the second quarter and tripled the Penguins
(2-1) in total yardage, 568 to 184. A defense picked apart by the Fighting
Irish the week before forced three turnovers and didn't let the Penguins
into Penn State territory until the second half.
But, for the third straight game, the young Lions were erratic
more often than they were efficient.
"I think we were sloppy. I think we made some progress in
some areas," said Penn State coach Joe Paterno. "We're certainly
not good enough yet."
Penn State went to the run early and stayed there, finishing with
389 yards -- only a yard shy of its total against Michigan State during
Larry Johnson's record-breaking 2002 season -- on 39 carries. Senior tailback
Tony Hunt gobbled up most of them, churning out 143 yards and a touchdown
on 18 carries.
Early on, those yards didn't come when it mattered. Penn State
had three third-and-short situations in Youngstown State territory in
the first quarter and failed to convert all three thanks to two failed
runs and an illegal procedure penalty. The Lions were forced to punt on
the first two drives and Kevin Kelly shanked a 30-yard field goal on the
Linebacker Paul Posluszny, who led the Lions with eight tackles,
and the defense were in shut-down mode against the overmatched Penguins,
but the seconds continued to tick off the clock with zeroes on the scoreboard.
"We've got to come out and jump on them from the first play,"
said Penn State quarterback Anthony Morelli. "We can't sit back."
Kelly broke the queasy deadlock with a 49-yard field goal early
in the second quarter. After a Youngstown three-and-out, Derrick
Williams ran back a Joe Bishop punt 65 yards to the Youngstown State
8-yard line, only to walk back across midfield because of a block-in-the-back
A.J. Wallace, the true freshman who has had a Williams-like impact
on the offense, made up for it the next play, sprinting past the entire
Penguin defense on a reverse for a 76-yard touchdown the finally kick-started
Penn State's scoring. By halftime, the Lions led 20-0, and by the start
of the fourth quarter, the lead was 30-3.
"I think we got off to a slow start, but after we got it going
I think we did pretty well," said wide receiver Deon Butler. "We've
just got to work on capitalizing once we get down into the red zone."
Most of Penn State's starters on both sides of the ball played
well into the fourth quarter. The Lions emerged from Saturday injury-free
with the exception of senior defensive end Jim Shaw, who re-aggravated
the right ankle sprain he had suffered two weeks earlier and missed the
The backups, who fans had thought they would see more of, were
impressive. Tailback Rodney Kinlaw juked and darted for 86 yards on six
fourth-quarter carries, and quarterback Daryll Clark ran for a touchdown
for the second straight week, though he did lose a fumble. Freshman defensive
ends Maurice Evans and Jared Odrick saw extended action.
At every position, the Lions were too big, too strong and too athletic
for the Penguins, who have 19 all-time wins against I-A schools but didn't
take advantage of Penn State's slow start.
"We didn't come here to lose. Our players didn't come here
to lose. I certainly didn't coach to lose," said Youngstown State
coach Jon Heacock. "That feeling doesn't feel very good. At the same
time, I think they know they hung in there and fought until the very end."
Paterno was asked if meeting the Penguins a week before going into
the house of the nation's top-ranked team, which cruised to a 37-7 win
over Cincinnati on Saturday, was a case of bad timing.
"I don't think it hurts us, to be frank with you," Paterno
said. "I don't think it hurts us at all."
A start like Saturday's, as the Nittany Lions are well aware, could
lead to a world of hurt in Columbus.