Lions Smack Down Illini 38-24

Penn State rode their strong offense to a 38-24 victory over Ron Zook and the Fighting Illini. The FOS game breakdown outlines the highlights of the Lions' fifth victory of the year.

No. 12 Penn State is tangling with No. 22 Illinois at Beaver Stadium Saturday night, in a game that marks the Big Ten opener for both teams.

We will update this story leading up to and during the game.

PREGAME NOTE: Sources tell us Penn State senior receiver Jordan Norwood was bothered by a hamstring problem this week. He will dress for the game, though, and is expected to play.

PREGAME NOTE 2: Norwood was in uniform for pregame warm-ups but did not do much. He milled around with the other wideouts but did not catch any passes.

FIRST QUARTER: Illinois won the toss and elected to defer. A.J. Wallace brought the kick out of the end zone, but was stopped well short of the 20 yard line, and the PSU offense was able to muster just a single first down before punting to the Illini.

Illinois fared better on their first drive, bringing the ball downfield into the teeth of a suddenly quieted student section to draw first blood. Illinois 7, Penn State 0.

On Penn State's second possession, the Nittany Lion offensive line began to assert themselves. Clark completed a 3rd down pass to Graham Zug to move the chains, and then back to back first down runs by Evan Royster and Clark moved the ball deep into Illini territory. A toss to Butler, and a first down run by Royster set the table for Clark to dive into the end zone for the first Penn State score. Penn State 7, Illinois 7.

Kevin Kelly's kickoff went out of bounds to give Illinois the ball at their own 40 yard line, and a Juice Williams quarterback draw got the Illini into Penn State territory. An instant replay review of a very close call gave Illinois their second score of the game when Benn came down at the edge of the end zone after catching Lydell Sargent turned the wrong way. Illinois 14, Penn State 7.

Penn State answered quickly with an 83 yard down the field aided by a horsecollar tackle penalty on the Illini and capped by a Clark touchdown pass to Derrick Williams. Penn State 14, Illinois 14.

SECOND QUARTER: A pair of holding calls put the brakes on the Illini offense, and an illegal touch by Illinois on the punt gave the Lions the ball at their own 43. On the first play, Clark hit a wide open Deon Butler on the left sideline for a first down at the Illinois 34. Illinois held for two plays, but Clark converted on 3rd and 8 to Williams at the 22. A screen to Royster set the table for the Lions at the 5 yard line, and Williams rolled around the left end to finish the drive on the next play. Penn State 21, Illinois 14.

On Illinois next posession, Anthony Scirroto picked off Juice Williams on 2nd and 9 to set up the Lions in Illinois territory. Stephfon Green got into the action on the Penn State drive, but Clark was sacked at the 39 to stall the momentum on third down. The Nittany Lions lined up for a 55 yard field goal, but Kelly pooched a punt inside the 10 where the Illini took over.

Illinois managed just a single first down trapped deep in the student section, and Penn State took over again. The Lions got a big run from Royster to get back into Illinois territory, but PSU came up a yard short on a third down at the Illini 31. The Lions were stuffed on 4th down when Green was unable to pick up one yard. Maurice Evans sacked Juice Williams on third down in the next Illinois possession to stop any threat of the Illini tying the game before the half. PENN STATE 21, Illinois 14.

ThIRD QUARTER: After the break the Illini drove near midfield, but came up on a 4th and short. Zook elected to gamble, but Juice Williams could not pick up the first down, and the Lions took over just inside Illini territory. A big run by Royster out of the option left brought the Lions to the 10, but the Illini defense stiffened, and Penn State was forced to settle for a field goal. PENN STATE 24, Illinois 14.

After the kick, the Illini began a slow deliberate drive, making use of a lot of option plays and making use of DuFrene. The Lions managed a stop in the red zone, and the Illini missed a short field goal attempt to hand the ball back over to Penn State.

On the second play of the Penn State drive, Stephfon Green fumbled the ball away to the Illini, who immediately tried a trick play for big yards. The Lion defense sniffed it out and threw the Illini for a big loss. Maybin stopped Juice Williams at the line of scrimmage to bring up 3rd and 15, and pressure defense stopped another Williams scramble to bring up 4th down. Illinois' 43 yard attempt was good to pull the Illini within 7. PENN STATE 24, Illinois 17.

FOURTH QUARTER: On the kickoff following the Illinois field goal, Derrick Williams broke free for a 94 yard return for a touchdown. PENN STATE 31, Illinois 17.

Illinois struck back quickly, making short work of the Lion defense as Clark hit Benn over Mark Rubin for a quick 52 yard touchdown strike to cut the margin to 7 with 12:48 remaining. PENN STATE 31, Illinois 24.

Williams featured heavily in the next Penn State drive which was aided by a Clark run of 20 yards from a third and one. Two Williams catches and a pair of Royster runs moved Penn State into the red zone again, and Clark wasted no time hitting Quarless in the end zone to post the Lions back to a 2 score advantage. PENN STATE 38, Illinois 24.

Kelly put the next kickoff through the end zone, and the Illini took began their next drive at the 20. After a first down, Navorro Bowman punched the ball loose from Dufrene on an option, and the Nittany Lions recovered the fumble at the Illini 36. Dufrene was injured on the play.

Penn State was unable to move the ball and lined up for a 50 yard field goal attempt, but again Kelly pooched a punt that just rolled into the end zone to give the Illini the ball at the 20 again. Illinois drove to a 4th and 8 at the Penn State 46 and with time ticking away was forced to go for it, but Juice William's pass fell incomplete and the Lions took over with 4:19 remaining on the board.

Clark rushed for a first down, but was shaken up on the play, and gave way to Pat Devlin. A pair of handoffs to Royster and Williams netted another Penn State first down. Clark returned, but it was a steady diet of Royster and Williams as the Lions stayed conservative on the ground to run out the clock.

FINAL: Penn State 38, Illinois 24

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