ILL: Highs & Lows

Breaking down the good, the bad and the ugly from State's road game vs. Illinois.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Every week, we offer a quick-hitting breakdown of Penn State's latest performance, noting the studs and duds, and presenting some obvious and not-so-obvious facts. This week, contributor Neil Rudel tackles the job.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Michael Robinson hit Ethan Kilmer over the middle for a 35-yard touchdown on a crossing pattern to give the Nittany Lions a 7-3 lead with 8:58 left in the first quarter. Kilmer was wide open and raced untouched into the end zone.

OFFENSIVE MVP: Robinson completed 11 of 18 passes for 194 yards and four touchdowns in addition to rushing seven times for 69 yards and another two scores.

DEFENSIVE MVP: PSU linebacker Dan Connor made eight tackles, including half a sack, and he returned a fumble recovery 18 yard for a touchdown.

MOST TELLING STAT: Illinois punted seven times ... in the first half.

HIDDEN STAT: Penn State's 28 first-quarter points were the most the Lions scored in the first quarter since 2000, when they put up 28 against Michigan State.

BEST RUN: Justin King, after lining up at receiver and going in motion, took an option from Robinson and accelerated around the left corner for 29 yards in the first quarter.

BEST PASS: Anthony Morelli floated a 23-yard out pattern to Lydell Sargeant late in the first half, setting up the touchdown that put Penn State up 56-3 shortly before the break.

WORST PASS: Illinois backup quarterback Chris Pazan threw into the left flat and was picked off by Lion backup safety Nolan McCready, who returned it 76 yards for a touchdown and a 63-3 lead late in the third quarter.

BEST CATCH: Kilmer made a nice snag at the sidelines in the second quarter.

CATCH IT, WILL YA: No blatant drops.

BEST TACKLE: Lion defensive end Tamba Hali nailed Illinois starting quarterback Tim Brasic in the second quarter.

BEST HIT: Illinois free safety Justin Harrison drilled Austin Scott following a second-quarter reception.

BEST BLOCK: After DaJuan Warren reversed field in the first quarter, Illinois offensive tackle Ryan McDonald decked PSU's Jay Alford.

BEST KICK: Illinois' Jason Reda nailed a 41-yard field goal into the wind to open the scoring.

WORST KICK: Good night for the kickers.

BEST CALL: The Illini jumbotron operator alertly went to some basketball highlights in between the first and second quarter, drawing cheers.

WORST CALL: Illinois receiver Derrick McPhearson threw three punches into the headgear of Anwar Phillips to earn a first-half ejection during a Lion punt return.

BEST STRATEGY: Without two of its top receivers in Derrick Williams (broken arm) and Jordan Norwood (foot injury), the Lions tested replacements Kilmer, King and Lydell Sargeant early, and they all came through.

WORST STRATEGY: If you're really looking to get Morelli some meaningful time before next year's season opener, wouldn't early in the second quarter with good field position and a 28-3 lead with the first-string line in have been the time? Robinson still could have been brought back to open the third quarter. As it was, Morelli was inserted late in the second quarter with a 49-3 lead, and Robinson sat the entire second half.

BEST EFFORT: PSU kicker Kevin Kelly had a busy night.

UNSUNG HERO: Despite all the hype surrounding PSU's ture freshmen receivers, redshirt frosh Deon Butler caught two more touchdown passes, bringing his team-high total to six. contributor Neil Rudel covers Penn State football for the Altoona Mirror. He can be reached at


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