Nov. 18, 2006
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Anthony Morelli threw for two touchdowns and the defense clamped down in the second half as the Nittany Lions overcame a sloppy first half to defeat Michigan State, 17-13 on Saturday at Beaver Stadium.
Trailing the entire first half, Penn State took a 14-13 lead after Morelli found Jordan Norwood for a 6-yard touchdown catch late in the third quarter. Kevin Kelly booted a 45-yard field goal with 4:28 remaining the fourth quarter to give Penn State (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten) a four-point cushion.
The Lions could finally breathe easy after Tim Shaw sacked Micihgan State quarterback Brian Hoyer on fourth down with less than three minutes left.
Penn State ran out the clock, and Spartans head coach John L. Smith's four-year tenure at Michigan State (4-8, 1-7) ended on a down note.
Paterno watched from the press box, returning to Beaver Stadium for the first time since breaking his shinbone and tearing two knee ligaments in his left knee on Nov. 4 at Wisconsin. Doctors have said that Paterno, who had surgery to heal the damage, must stay off his feet for at least another month. The 79 year-old coach took the game in from the press box.
Television cameras showed Paterno looking pensive at times as he watched from above, and he had good reason to worry.
Penn State fumbled four times in the first half, while Michigan State's offense was able to move the ball easily at times on the stingy Penn State defense even without injured starter Drew Stanton, who missed his final collegiate game.
Hoyer filled in admirably, completing 30 of 61 passes for 291 yards and a touchdown.
Morelli finished 17-of-37 for 220 yards, while Tony Hunt ran for 130 yards on 29 carries for Penn State.
Morelli and Hunt both fumbled twice in the first half.
Penn State went to the air to take the lead. Derrick Williams saved the drive after tiptoeing the sidelines during a 33-yard completion on third down. Morelli gunned a pass through tight coverage to Andrew Quarless at the Michigan State 6 before connecting with Norwood to give Penn State a 14-13 lead.
Morelli also connected with Quarless for a 17-yard score after the tight end broke a tackle by Travis Key and jogged into the end zone.
All of Michigan State's points came after Penn State fumbles. Hoyer connected with Kerry Reed for an 11-yard score to give the Spartans a 7-0 lead, while a 29-yard field goal from Brett Swenson put the Spartans up 13-7 at halftime.