No. 25 Penn St 37, Youngstown St 3
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP)—Tony Hunt beat Youngstown State with his legs. It showed on his nose.
Hunt had a touchdown and 143 of Penn State’s 389 rushing yards and A.J. Wallace scored on a 76-yard reverse as the 25th-ranked Nittany Lions bullied Division I-AA Youngstown State 37-3 on Saturday.
Hunt was the biggest beneficiary of the ground game, and the senior tailback sported a bandage across the bridge of his nose after getting cut from his helmet.
“The line is coming together really well,” Hunt said. “I expect them to get better every week.”
Rodney Kinlaw added 86 yards and Derrick Williams had 59 yards and a score for the Nittany Lions (2-1).
There were early struggles on offense and a few mistakes again on special teams, though coach Joe Paterno’s squad got a confidence-boosting win heading into next week’s showdown at top-ranked Ohio State.
“We were a little erratic in some things that we have to improve on,” Paterno said. “But I think overall we made some progress. We are certainly not good enough yet.”
Still, Penn State was too big and fast for the Penguins (2-1) for much of the afternoon. The Lions had 568 yards of total offense, and held Youngstown State to 184, including just 41 in the first half.
“Nobody likes to lose. We didn’t come here to lose,” Penguins coach Jon Heacock said. “That stinks, that feeling doesn’t feel very good.”
The game was scoreless midway through the second quarter when Penn State’s offense took off after Wallace took the reverse handoff. He eluded the grasp of one tackler, got a nice block from wideout Deon Butler inside the 5 before dashing past the goal line and pointing to fans in the end zone to give Penn State a 10-0 lead.
Derrick Bush recovered a fumble by Monquantae Gibson to save a turnover on Youngstown State’s next drive, but safety Anthony Scirrotto had a 28-yard interception on the next play after Penguins quarterback Tom Zetts was chased out of the pocket by linebacker Paul Posluszny.
Hunt turned a screen into a 16-yard gain on the ensuing drive, and the tailback scored two plays later on a draw from 12 yards out to extend Penn State’s lead to 17-0.
Linebacker Dan Connor said the win helped erase the sting of blowout loss to Notre Dame two weeks ago.
“That helps out, getting all 11 guys on defense and all 11 guys on offense making big plays, big runs,” Connor said.
About the only area in which the Lions didn’t dominate was special teams. A long kickoff return by Williams was called back because of an illegal block penalty. Kicker Kevin Kelly had three field goals, including one from 49 yards, but missed on three others.
There was a smattering of boos and loud sighs from blue-and-white clad fans after Kelly missed a 31-yarder in a scoreless first quarter. A small contingent of Penguin fans made the trip down Interstate 80 from Ohio.
“We had the mindset that we had to work hard,” said Connor, who finished with five tackles. “We didn’t play the perfect game and we need to improve on a lot of areas.”
Penn State led 20-0 at halftime after the TD runs by Wallace and Hunt. Youngstown State was held to 41 yards offense in the half, including minus-2 rushing, and just three first downs.
The Penguins found a little more success after opening the second half with a 14-play, 64-yard drive highlighted by quick, short passes and runs by Zetts. Brian Palmer kicked a 33-yard field goal for the Penguins’ only score.
“I think that our guys know that they hung in there and fought until the very and I’m proud of that,” Heacock said.
Zetts finished 12-of-20 for 95 yards and one interception. Penn State’s Anthony Morelli looked good early but wasn’t sharp late, finishing 11-for-27 for 154 yards.
Youngstown State’s leading rusher, Marcus Mason, didn’t play because of a sore hamstring, though Heacock said he was available. Mason had run for 208 yards and four touchdowns in the Penguins’ first two games.
The Penguins’ leading tackler, linebacker Jeremiah Wright, hurt his right knee in early in the first quarter and did not return.
Penn State added Youngstown State to the schedule after Louisiana Tech backed out late last year because of a scheduling conflict in the Western Athletic Conference.