|Score by Quarters
||WIS - Taylor Mehlhaff 37-yard field goal
||PSU - Kevin Kelly 39-yard field goal
||WIS - P. Hubbard 14-yard pass from Stocco (Mehlhaff
||WIS - Taylor Mehlhaff 20-yard field goal
MADISON, Wis. -- They struggled to find the right words to express their
frustration, much the same way they struggled to find the big plays it
would have taken to beat a fine Wisconsin team in its formidable home
"It's real hard," said Penn State quarterback Anthony
Morelli. "I don't even know what to say right now. Things don't go
our way, and that's all there is to it. I don't know what to say. I'm
just speechless right now. We're just having some rough times this year."
Rough patches both familiar and unforeseen haunted the Nittany
Lions in Camp Randall Stadium, where they fell 13-3 to the No. 17 Badgers
before a boisterous crowd of 81,777.
Penn State (6-4, 4-3 Big Ten) turned the ball over three times
and totaled just 201 yards of offense, failing to capitalize on the few
opportunities it had to erase a late 10-point deficit.
The Lions played the final quarter without head coach Joe Paterno,
who injured his left knee in a sideline collision with a Wisconsin player
and was carted off the field in the final minute of the third quarter.
After the game, Paterno flew home to State College, where he was scheduled
to receive an X-ray, according to team spokesman Jeff Nelson. An MRI exam
is tentatively scheduled for today or Monday.
The knock on Wisconsin (9-1, 6-1) was that first-year coach Bret
Bielema and the Badgers hadn't been tested by many quality opponents.
Senior quarterback John Stocco, freshman tailback P.J. Hill and an aggressive
Badger defense passed every test Saturday.
"Their offensive line was tough, P.J. Hill was a tough runner,
all the way around I thought they were an all-around tough team, well-coached,"
said Penn State linebacker Sean Lee. "They came out there and tried
to establish being tough."
Hill rushed for 148 yards on 31 carries, wearing down Penn State's
stubborn defense in the second half. Stocco, under heavy pressure from
Lion blitzes, completed 15 of 25 passes for 172 yards and the game's only
touchdown -- a 14-yard strike to Paul Hubbard -- before a savage hit from
Lee knocked him out of the game early in the fourth quarter.
The Badgers owned the stat sheet, out-rushing Penn State 167-36
and enjoying better than a 15-minute edge in time of possession, but couldn't
translate that domination to the scoreboard. A series of plays in both
the second and third quarters was the difference.
After Wisconsin's Zach Hampton recovered his own fumble of a Jeremy
Kapinos punt, the Badgers drove deep into Penn State territory on the
strength of four straight completions by Stocco.
On third-and-5 at the Penn State 37, Paul Posluszny stopped Travis
Beckum a yard shy of the first down with his record-breaking 344th career
tackle, but the Badgers went for it on 4th-and-1. Hill's carry and the
officials' spot gave Wisconsin the first down by an inch, and four plays
later Stocco drilled a strike to Hubbard on a slant route, putting Wisconsin
up 10-3 with 23 seconds left in the half.
On the Badgers' first drive of the second half, a third-down pass
from Stocco to tight end Andy Crooks was broken up by Penn State safety
Donnie Johnson, who nearly intercepted the pass for what might have been
six points. Instead, Ken DeBauche's punt bounced off Penn State blocker
Lydell Sargeant and was recovered by Hampton at the Penn State 20-yard
line. The Lions kept the Badgers out of the end zone but Taylor Mehlhaff's
19-yard field goal made it 13-3 with 2:42 left in the third.
"We had to play a little differently once they got up by 10,"
Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said.
For the defense, that meant trying to slow Hill, who motored his
242-pound frame for 80 yards in the second half. Penn State's struggling
offense, after a 50-yard drive to open the second half, went three plays
and out on four straight possessions.
Tailback Tony Hunt, who ran for 142 yards in the previous week's
win over Purdue, was taken out of the game by a stacked Wisconsin front,
finishing with 35 yards on 11 carries. The Badgers, who boasted the nation's
second-ranked pass defense coming in, were equally impressive against
Morelli and his receivers.
"That's an awfully good defensive football team," Penn
State quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno said. "We were able to do some
things in the passing game, just not consistently enough. And that's kind
of been how we've been; we've been able to move the ball at times, just
not been able to put consistent things together back to back to back."
The Lions' red-zone struggles, a major issue all season, followed
them to Madison.
Early in the second quarter, Dan Connor sacked Stocco and forced
a fumble, and Lee recovered at the Wisconsin 14-yard line. On the very
next play, Morelli's pass was tipped near the line of scrimmage by Joe
Monty and intercepted by Roderick Rogers.
On the Lions' opening drive of the third quarter, a shovel pass
from Morelli to Hunt picked up 9 yards and gave Penn State a first down
at the Wisconsin 21. But a false start, an ill-fated reverse to Chris
Bell and pair of incompletions -- including a catch by Derrick Williams
inside the 5-yard line but just out of bounds -- forced Penn State to
settle for a field goal try. Instead, Kevin Kelly tried a pooch punt,
which rolled harmlessly into the end zone.
The frustration peaked with eight minutes left in the third quarter.
A Morelli scramble on 3rd-and-14 set Penn State up with a 4th-and-1 at
the Wisconsin 31-yard line. After a Badger timeout, the Lions pitched
it to Hunt, who was stuffed in the backfield for a 4-yard loss. It was
the story of the day -- if not the season -- for the Lions, wrapped up
in one play.
"You've got to make a play in the clutch when it counts,"
Bradley said. "Today, we needed a play and we just couldn't come
up with it."
Because of that, Penn State is winless in four games against ranked
teams. The Badgers, who needed to look no further than last season's 35-14
loss in Beaver Stadium for fuel, were the superior team and proved it.
"We were really motivated," said Wisconsin cornerback
Jack Ikegwounu. "They embarrassed us last year. I can't think of
any word to describe it better. They came out and dominated us last year.
We had a little chip on our shoulder coming into this game."
Penn State closes its season with home games against Temple and
Michigan State. The Lions must deal with the injuries to Paterno and to
right tackle John Shaw, who limped off the field late in the fourth quarter.
They also hope the mental wounds haven't gone too deep.
"We're such a better team that what we're showing right now,"