|Score by Quarters
||ND - Darrin Walls 73-yard interception return (Walker
||PSU - Derrick Williams 78-yard punt return (Kelly kick)
||PSU - Jordan Norwood 10-yard pass from Morelli (Kelly
||PSU - Kevin Kelly 37-yard field goal
||ND - Brandon Walker 22-yard field goal
||PSU - Austin Scott 1-yard run (Kelly kick)
||PSU - Austin Scott 5-yard run (Kelly kick)
UNIVERSITY PARK -- The white -- not unlike the Penn State defense --
was everywhere, covering every nook and cranny of a roaring Beaver Stadium.
What made the difference on this night, though, were the splashes
of yellow that frequently dotted the green turf.
The Nittany Lions' 31-10 payback defeat of Notre Dame -- before
a crowd of 110,078, the second-largest in Beaver Stadium history -- was
as much about the mistakes the Fighting Irish made as the number of big
plays Penn State (2-0) made. The momentum that had never favored the Nittany
Lions during last season's 41-17 loss in South Bend swung both ways for
much of Saturday's game, but the home team did the most with it.
"People don't say it, but that was the only game we really
got blown out," Penn State linebacker Sean Lee said of last year's
game. "We wanted revenge."
Lee and the rest of the defense, blitzing Irish freshman quarterback
Jimmy Clausen on nearly every passing down and stonewalling a mediocre
Notre Dame rushing attack, earned that revenge with another dominant performance.
Derrick Williams, Chris Bell and Anthony Morelli made highlight-reel plays
that led to or resulted in points, and the Nittany Lions' offensive line
and tailback Austin Scott wore down the Irish defense in the second half.
As if all that wasn't enough, Notre Dame couldn't get out of its
The Fighting Irish (0-2) racked up 14 penalties for 97 yards --
only 47 fewer than they managed in 58 offensive plays. Whether it was
false starts by the offensive linemen -- in which the crowd played no
small role -- face-mask penalties or a bizarre personal foul on a punt
return play that might have swung the momentum to Penn State for good,
it seemed that every key play involved or soon followed a yellow flag.
"It was miserable," Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said.
"Even though we practiced for this, and a couple of those false starts
penalties can be attributed to noise, it's still a lack of concentration.
We had 13, 14 penalties and when you're not playing a very efficient offense
yourself and you add the number of penalties in there, it doesn't bode
well for any type of momentum."
The Nittany Lions, who did not commit a penalty in the first half,
were whistled seven times for 65 yards in the second half, but most came
after they already had a tight hold on the game.
"Basically what it comes down to is nobody wants to run on
Monday," said Penn State linebacker Jerome Hayes, grinning. "Penalties
equal extra sprints. The whole coaching staff preaches no penalties, play
fundamentals, play assignment football, and we were able to do that today."
Hayes was involved in a penalty that was perhaps the game's turning
Notre Dame, up 7-0 after Darrin Walls returned an Anthony Morelli
interception 73 yards for a touchdown on Penn State's initial possession,
had the Nittany Lions pinned deep in their own territory after Morrice
Richardson sacked Morelli for a 13-yard loss on third down. Jeremy Boone
punted to the Notre Dame 44-yard line, where Tom Zbikowski corraled it
with a fair catch.
The Irish's Travis Thomas, however, who was tangled up with Hayes
on the ground after trying to reach Boone, took several cheap shots after
the ball was long gone, directly in front of an official, and received
a 15-yard personal foul penalty.
On the very next play, Irish tailback James Aldridge appeared to
have plenty of open real estate as Clausen tossed him a counter pitch, but
Alridge dropped the ball, and lost three yards after he picked it up.
Clausen's third-down pass was incomplete, and Geoff Price punted
to Penn State's Derrick Williams, who plucked the ball off his shoetops
at his own 22-yard line, eluded a tackler and began to weave a path from
the right side of the field to the left. After a great block of Zbikowski
from A.J. Wallace at the 25, Williams cut back and coasted into the end
zone as the sea of white came to deafening life. Kevin Kelly's extra point
tied the score at 7-7 with 52 seconds left in the quarter.
An illegal procedure penalty and Aaron Maybin's sack of Clausen --
one of six for Penn State on the day -- led to another Price punt and terrific
field position early in the second quarter.
A 16-yard strike from Morelli to Deon Butler, some hard running by
Scott and a face mask penalty on the Irish's Joe Brockington pushed the
Nittany Lions to the 10-yard line where, on 2nd and 7, Morelli read an Irish
blitz and threw a strike to open slot receiver Jordan Norwood for a touchdown.
The Penn State offense, which had 24 total yards and two turnovers
in the first quarter, had 76 yards and no turnovers in the second.
"Notre Dame had some new coaching defensively, so we weren't
exactly sure what they were gonna give us," Norwood said. "It
took a little bit for us to adjust, and things like that, but once we did,
I think we played well."
Despite Morelli's fumble at his own 44-yard line in the final seconds,
Penn State took its 14-7 lead into the locker room. Wallace's 68-yard return
up the right sideline on the opening kickoff of the second half led to Kelly's
96 seconds into the third quarter.
A pair of Penn State penalties on the next series pinned the Nittany
Lions at their own 11 on fourth down, and Zbikowski ran Boone's punt back
to the Penn State 7-yard line.
But Penn State's defense would not fold, holding Notre Dame to a
22-yard field goal instead of what seemed a sure touchdown.
"We came in expecting to show a statement to the rest of the
football world," Maybin said. "As a defensive front, we really
take a lot of pride to be able to hold such a talented offense to no touchdowns
on the day."
Morelli found Bell for a 51-yard hookup on the next series, and six
plays -- and two Notre Dame penalties -- later, Scott dove into the end
zone to make it 24-10. The senior finished with 116 yards and two scores
on 28 carries. He ran for 50 of the 62 yards of Penn State's final scoring
drive, capping it with a 7-yard run with 7:40 to play.
Penn State's defense, which held the Fighting Irish to zero rushing
yards on 26 attempts, has now allowed a total of minus-3 yards rushing in
two games. The offense, though erratic, totaled 271 yards over the final
three quarters Saturday.
And memories of last year's debacle in South Bend, well, won't be
quite as clear today.
"We won the game. For a lot of guys, that erases the pain of
last year," Norwood said. "I'm just excited for this season, and
I'm looking forward to (Saturday's game against) Buffalo already."