SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)—Syracuse celebrated its glorious past. Penn State reveled in its stellar present.
Jordan Norwood and Deon Butler each caught a pair of touchdown passes before halftime, and No. 17 Penn State renewed the rivalry between the schools with a rout Saturday, gaining nearly 400 yards and scoring 38 points in the first half on the way to a 55-13 win.
“It’s always a good thing when you score early,” said Joe Paterno, who won his 375th game as Penn State coach. “I’m just not sure how good we’re going to be yet. We haven’t faced any adversity yet, so we’ll see.”
The rout came the day after former Syracuse stars Jim Brown, Floyd Little, Art Monk, Don McPherson, and 40 members of the unbeaten 1959 team attended the world premiere of “The Express,” a movie about Ernie Davis. He was the star of that championship team and in 1961 became the first black player to win the Heisman Trophy, two years before he died of leukemia.
The schools met in every season except one from 1922-90, but the series ended when the Big East was formed and Penn State joined the Big Ten. Today, the programs are headed in opposite directions and it didn’t take long to see that.
Penn State (3-0) outgained Syracuse 191-5 in the first quarter, and the Orange (0-3) did not get a first down until Cam Dantley hit Grant Mayes for a 26-yard gain early in the second. By that time, Syracuse trailed 28-0.
“It was a diffcult day at the office for us,” said Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson, whose 7-31 record in three-plus years has his job in jeopardy. “The way it started was kind of the way it unfolded. They had us reeling for a little bit for a period of time.”
There was little indication this game once meant so much to Eastern football. Syracuse, a 27 1/2 -point underdog, finished with 49 yards rushing on 25 carries. Overall, the Nittany Lions outgained Syracuse 560-169 and allowed just eight first downs.
“We’ve been through this kind of adversity before. We know not to get down,” Orange senior captain Jake Flaherty said. “We need to just keep plugging away. You’ve just got to bounce back, keep going when your back’s against the wall.”
Penn State has scored at least 35 points in the opening half of all three of its games, the first time the Nittany Lions have done that since 1994.
“We never let down,” linebacker Navorro Bowman said. “You know to keep going, keep fighting and show the world that you can play ball.”
The Nittany Lions, who lead the series 41-23-5, wasted no time demoralizing the 45,795 orange-clad fans, the largest Carrier Dome crowd in nearly five years. After fumbling the ball at their own 36 on the second play from scrimmage, they got it back on the next play when Dantley’s quick pass to Curtis Brinkley in the left flat was ruled a lateral after it bounced short and was recovered by the Nittany Lions at their own 45.
Daryll Clark hit Norwood in the left flat on the next play, and he streaked untouched across the middle for a 55-yard TD reception.
“Teams are going to have to choose whether they want to back up or press us,” said Butler, who had seven catches for 110 yards. “I think today they thought they could press us.”
The Orange certainly couldn’t, not with players regularly being shifted to different positions and so many inexperienced players in the lineup because of injuries. Five freshmen had substantial playing time on Saturday.
Norwood had five catches for 113 yards. Clark finished 10-for-21 for 163 yards passing and two TDs, and backup Pat Devlin was 8-for-13 for 130 yards and two scores. Evan Royster had 101 yards rushing on 13 carries, his second straight 100-yard game.
“Coach Paterno said they are a good team, don’t sleep on them just because of their record,” said Stephfon Green, who scored on a 2-yard run in the third quarter. “We went to work in the Carrier Dome.”
Patrick Shadle kicked field goals of 44 and 52 yards for the Orange, who scored their lone touchdown late in the third. Dantley, in just his third career start, hit Donte Davis over the middle for 35 yards, then connected with freshman Marcus Sales on an 11-yard scoring pass on fourth down.