PURDUE: Breakdown

Highs, lows and various other facts and figures from Penn State's tilt with the Boilermakers.

MAN OF THE HOUR: Penn State junior running back Tony Hunt carried 24 times for 129 yards and caught four passes for 57 yards in his best game yet. He did some of his strongest work in the final quarter, when the Nittany Lions pounded Purdue on the ground.

TURNING POINT: There was not one game-changing moment in this one. So we'll go with Penn State's five-play, 60-yard drive before the half that led to a field goal and some breathing room -- 16-7. We never got the sense the Lions were in trouble after that.

STRATA-GEM: Purdue entered with the worst pass defense in the nation. But the PSU staff went against convention late in the game. After the Boilers cut the lead to 23-15, State had a 61-yard, eight-play drive that was all on the ground, capped by a key field goal.

NUMBERS GAME: Penn State, behind Hunt and QB Michael Robinson, had 332 rushing yards, dominating the strength of the Purdue defense.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE: See Number Game above. Who would have guessed the Lions would be so effective on the ground?

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Rodney Kinlaw busted the second-half kickoff 58 yards, setting up the drive that gave the Lions a 23-7 lead. Kinlaw showed great speed, footwork and vision on the play. Also, Ethan Kilmer continues to impress as a kick cover man.

WHAT'S UP WITH: For the umpteenth time this year, Calvin Lowry returning punts? This stubborn approach by Joe Paterno cost the team an early turnover that led to a Purdue touchdown. Lowry later fair-caught a punt at his own 7 that forced the Lions to protect the ball rather than attack late in the first half.

HIT SQUAD: Hunt steamrolled defensive back Zach Logan late in the game, drawing raves from the Beaver Stadium student section for doing so. Also, Lowry, a terrific safety, decked Boilermaker wideout Dorien Bryant on an overthrown pass in the second quarter. Lowry also made up for his special teams' errors with a late interception.

HEADS-UP: Split this one between Kilmer (strip) and E.Z. Smith (recovery), who were on either end of Purdue punt return man Lance Melvin's first-quarter fumble that turned early momentum.

HIDDEN HERO: Rookie PK Kevin Kelly was quietly effective, going three of three on field goals in the first half to give the Lions a 16-7 cushion at the break. He was four of four on triples in the game.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: After missing the Illinois game with a foot injury, freshman wideout Jordan Norwood had a strong effort against Purdue. He had a team-high 59 receiving yards (on four catches) and carried once for 17 yards.

DID YOU NOTICE:

  • That Penn State's special teams were at their comical best in the first half, with a 19-yard punt from Jeremy Kapinos and Lowry's fumbled punt? In the second quarter, a delay of game on a punt negated a Kapinos bomb that went more than 80 yards. He followed up with a 40-yard knuckler that was returned to the PSU 42.

  • That five-star receiver recruit Vidal Hazelton was on hand as a surprise visitor? Hazelton is playing at Hargrave Military Academy this year. He was joined by Hargrave teammates Callahan Bright and Jerrell Powe, a pair of star lineman.

  • That Penn State's first touchdown came SIX plays after Norwood's 17-yard reverse gave the Lions a first and goal from the 2? PSU consistently went with a two-tight end, two-fullback jumbo set, but got the benefit of a pass interference call and a holding call.

  • That the Blue Band was presented with the Sudler Trophy at halftime. The award, which goes to a college band each year, rewards years of excellence.

    UNANSWERED QUESTION: Did the Lions get the mistakes out of their system before next week's Senior Day showdown with Wisconsin?

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