30 September 2006

Halftime: Penn State 16, Northwestern 7

Anthony Morelli started out sharp but looked only average overall in the first half: 10 of 19 for 201 yards. He also threw a second quarter interception that game Northwestern prime field position and led to the Wildcats' only first-half touchdown. Also, finally, Penn State has gone back to the vertical game; Deon Butler accounted for 172 receiving yards in the first half (28.7 yard average per reception).

Penn State ran the ball well in the first half, running for 129 yards, including a nice 22 yard reverse by freshman Chris Bell. Tony Hunt accounted for 94 rushing yards in the first half; the only error was Hunt's fumble inside the 10 on Penn State's first drive.

Red zone inefficiency is once again plaguing the Nittany Lions. Of the first four trips inside the 20, Penn State had only 9 points to show for it on 3 Kevin Kelly FGs. It also left Northwestern close in a game in which they're being completely dominated (total yards 330-127, and 36 of those Northwestern yards were on the final play of the half).

In a bit of a surprise, Penn State attempted an onside kick in the second quarter, but on the other hand given Northwestern's ineptness on offense, perhaps it is not really that much of a surprise. The Wildcats recovered, and quickly went three and out and were forced to punt.

The defense has only allowed 5 first downs all half and is playing like everyone has expected. On 3rd and goal from the one yard line, the defense stuffed Northwestern on a quarterback sneak, but the Wildcats were able to punch it in on 4th down.

Penn State is dominating all the statistics except the most important (that being the score!). Red zone mistakes and turnovers have prevented the Nittany Lions from putting at least 28 and perhaps as many as 35 points on the board in the first half. The offense finally punched the ball into the end zone with under a minute left in the second quarter.

The defense will set the tone to open the second half as Northwestern gets the ball first.
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