Orange Bowl: Notebook

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Austin Scott looked nothing like the faded star he is often presumed to be in Penn State's 26-23 Orange Bowl victory over Florida State. That was exactly the idea. Drawing inspiration from the all bowl games he had watched in the weeks leading up to the Orange Bowl, and feeling better physically than he had in a while, Scott wanted to make a statement against the Seminoles.

“I was determined,” he said. “I put my head down and went full speed. I knew I couldn't hold back anything.”

Filling in for Tony Hunt, whose right ankle was injured on Penn State's first series, Scott finished with 110 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. It was the third 100-yard game of the junior tailback's college career.

Scott has been an enigma since signing with Penn State in 2003 on the heels of a record-setting career at Parkland High near Allentown, Pa. A former prep All-American, he seemed destined for great things but fell behind Hunt because of health problems and poor work habits.

There had been reports that Scott might redshirt in 2006 so that he would be available to play in 2007 following Hunt's graduation. When asked earlier in the week about the likelihood of Scott missing the coming season, Penn State offensive coordinator Galen Hall said nothing had been decided.

It's uncertain how, if at all, his performance Tuesday night might affect those deliberations. But Joe Paterno was encouraged with what he saw.

“He's got the makings of a good back,” the coach said. “He's blocking better, and he did a good job on his pass protection tonight -- they were coming pretty good. 

“I'm glad for him. He's hung in there with us.”

o It wouldn't be entirely accurate to report that Penn State kept Florida State punt-return specialist Willie Reid under wraps. After all, Reid's 180 punt-return yards were a record not just for the Orange Bowl but for all bowl games. His 87-yard touchdown return in the second quarter was the longest in Orange Bowl history, and he was named the game's MVP.

Still, considering how often Penn State found itself punting from the vicinity of its end zone, it was a minor miracle Reid only scored one touchdown. As if to underscore that point, Reid didn't sound particularly enthused after the game.

“It was a tough loss,” he said, “real tough to swallow.”

o The Orange Bowl was Justin King's final game wearing jersey No. 7. He said that next season he plans to switch to No. 1, the number he wore in at Gateway High in Monroeville, Pa.

King, a consensus prep All-American at Gateway, said he didn't have to complete with classmate Derrick Williams for the coveted jersey, which was worn this season by graduating senior cornerback Anwar Phillips.

“[Williams] wore 1 in high school, but I wore 1 longer than he did,” King said. “I wore 1 my whole high school career.”

o Before the Orange Bowl, Florida State junior cornerback Antonio Cromartie declared himself eligible for the NFL draft even though he missed the entire 2005 season with a preseason knee injury. “This is based on several reasons,” Cromartie said in a prepared statement. “But mainly I want to be able to help my family out.”

o The 20 combined punts by both teams were the most in an Orange Bowl since Tennessee and Rice punted 28 times in the Owls' 8-0 victory in 1947. … Bowl officials issued 729 media credentials, the most for a nonchampionship Orange Bowl game. … Penn State's victory was the first overtime win in the program's history. It was also the first triple-overtime bowl game since Hawaii defeated Houston, 54-48, in the Hawaii Bowl on Dec. 25, 2003.

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