30 September 2006

Final: Penn State 33, Northwestern 7

My prediction: Penn State 31, Northwestern 10
Final score: Penn State 33, Northwestern 7
The Wildcats opened the second half with a quick three and out and punted to Penn State. The Nittany Lion offense quickly moved the ball down the field, only to falter once again in the red zone and settle for Kevin Kelly's 4th field goal of the afternoon. But the red zone struggles wouldn't last long.

Penn State's offense finally began to click about halfway through the 3rd quarter: Deon Butler went over 200 receiving yards and set the Penn State record for receiving yards in a game, Tony Hunt went over 100 rushing yards and ran for two third quarter touchdowns. Morelli finished the game 19 of 33 (57.6%) for 286 yards. For the game, Penn State amassed 528 total yards with good balance: 295 passing yards and 233 rushing yards.

Freshman tight end Andrew Quarless started the game and looked good (2 catches for 31 yards). It was nice to see Morelli get the tight end involved in the passing game.

Northwestern was inept on offense once again in the second half. For the game, Northwestern was 1 for 13 on third down conversions and totalled only 227 yards (and some of those yards in junk time at the end of the game).

The defense was strong as ever. Freshman Maurice Evans got two sacks during the 4th quarter, and the Nittany Lions narrowly missed a defensive touchdown: defensive tackle Jay Alford picked up an apparent fumble and returned it for a TD, but it was later overturned and ruled an incomplete pass.

Jeremy Kapinos put 3 of his 4 punts inside the 20 yard line. Kevin Kelly was 4 for 4 on field goals and totalled 15 points.

The 17 unanswered points in the third quarter was a nice preview of what we should hope to see more of from Penn State during the rest of the season. Will this game be a turning point for Penn State's season? We'll see next week against Minnesota, unless the Minnesota Twins' playoff game forces the game to be moved to November. A bye week would give Penn State extra time to prepare for the huge Michigan game on October 14th.
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