|Penn State 26, Purdue 19|
|November 3, 2007|
|Beaver Stadium - University Park, PA|
|Kickoff Time: 12:00 p.m. EDT|
UNIVERSITY PARK — A win on Senior Day, for obvious reasons, means
a lot to each group of Penn State seniors. It’s the last time they
will ride to the stadium in the blue buses, the last time they will run
through the tunnel and the last time they will play before 100-some-odd
thousand home fans.
On Penn State’s next series, Royster rushed for 47 of the 65 yards on a 12-play drive, including the final 26 on a burst up the middle.
“We ran that play probably 20 times today,” said Royster, who notched his first career 100-yard game with 126 on 21 carries. “It was just blocked right and everything opened up.”
It was Morelli’s 2-yard quarterback sneak on 4th-and-1 from the Purdue 45, though, that gave him the shot. “That was the football game if we make the first down there,” said Penn State coach Joe Paterno of the decision to go for it. “...I thought.”
The Penn State defense, which allowed 68 points in the previous two games and had been utterly dominated — failing to force a punt — by a balanced Ohio State offense, kept Purdue’s capable spread attack out of the end zone for the second straight year (Penn State beat the Boilermakers 12-0 in West Lafayette last season) and held it to 255 total yards. Purdue quarterback Curtis Painter was 27-of-48 for 255 yards but was sacked four times (twice by sophomore defensive end Maurice Evans) and completed just 13 of his final 31 attempts.
“He was trying to get the ball out quick to his receivers,” said Penn State sophomore A.J. Wallace, who saw increased playing time at cornerback. “But due to our good coverage and our defensive line just making him scramble, that provided the ill-advised throws and made the defense even harder to go against.”
Wallace batted down Painter’s desperation Hail-Mary pass in the end zone in the final seconds, but the defense’s biggest play came late in the first quarter.
An 18-yard completion from Painter to Selwyn Lymon on third down gave the Boilermakers, already up 10-3, a first-and-goal from the Penn State 5-yard line. Two plays later, from the 1, Taylor dove toward the end zone, extending the ball out with one hand. Lee knocked it away and recovered the fumble, and the Nittany Lions had momentum for the first time.
Bryant’s kickoff return wasn’t the only important special teams play. Purdue kicker Chris Summers connected on field goals of 45, 28, 50 and 37 yards and, after the last one pulled his team to within seven points with 1:53 to play, executed a near-perfect onside kick that went in and out of the hands of Greg Orton. Penn State’s Brett Brackett came up with the ball, allowing the Nittany Lions to run all but the final 18 seconds off the clock.
Penn State’s Kevin Kelly made field goals of 26 and 24 yards, the second — which gave Penn State a 13-10 halftime lead — coming after he had missed a 30-yarder but received another shot when Terrell Vinson roughed the kicker.
The Nittany Lion seniors finished with a 22-6 record at Beaver Stadium. They had plenty of help in recording the final win. “That’s the one thing I wanted to do — send those seniors out with a win,” said Penn State defensive end Josh Gaines, a redshirt junior. “I came in with those guys. They’ve been here since I’ve been here. They’re my brothers. I look up to those guys.” (Written by Jeff Rice, CDT)