(Saturday, September 27th)
Final Score: (12) Penn State 38, (22) Illinois 24
University Park, PA (Sports Network) - Daryll Clark threw for 181 yards and two scores on 14-for-20 passing and ran for 50 yards and another touchdown, as 12th-ranked Penn State handled No. 22 Illinois, 38-24, in the teams' Big Ten opener.
Derrick Williams accounted for three touchdowns -- one rushing, one receiving and one on a kickoff return -- for the Nittany Lions (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten), who allowed a season-high in points but held on for the win.
Williams caught six passes for 75 yards and ran for 33, while Evan Royster had 139 yards rushing on 19 attempts for Penn State.
"This is really the first chance that he has had to break out," Penn State coach Joe Paterno said of Williams. "In fact, I told him the other day that it's about time that he break out and have a real big game. He had a big day. He is a heck of an athlete and he is a heck of a competitor."
Juice Williams passed for 183 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-24 completions for the Illini (2-2, 0-1), and was intercepted once. Illinois fell to 0-2 against ranked opponents this season, as the school lost to then sixth-ranked Missouri, 52-42, in its season opener.
"Like I tell the guys, you're not going to play a game of that caliber on emotion," Illinois coach Ron Zook said. "Obviously, you're going to come out and have your jazz level up and all that. But football is a 60-minute game, and you have to be able to play 60 minutes. You gotta understand that the momentum and so forth is going to change up and down. You have to be able to withstand the onslaught."
Arrelious Benn caught four passes for a career-high 110 yards and two touchdowns for the Illini, while Daniel Dufrene ran for 96 yards on 14 attempts. Juice Williams added 64 yards on the ground.
"I had a good game personally, but that doesn't matter," Benn said. "That can go down the drain because we didn't come away with a win. All that matters is if we win."
In a back-and-forth game, Penn State held just a one-score lead after Illinois' Matt Eller kicked a 43-yard field goal to close out the third quarter, and bring the Illini within 24-17.
But on the ensuing kickoff, Derrick Williams took the ball on the right side of the field at the six-yard line, picked up series of good blocks and out- raced everyone 94 yards into the end zone.
The crucial score gave Penn State a 31-17 advantage less than a minute into the final stanza, as Illinois came right back with a score of its own.
It didn't take the Illini long, as after three plays for modest gains, Juice Williams connected with Benn for a 54-yard scoring strike. Benn went upfield on a stop-and-go route that had his defender lost, and no one else picked up the coverage. Williams made an easy throw for the touchdown that brought Illinois within 31-24 with 12:48 left to play.
But the Illini got no closer as the Nittany Lions scored once more to provide some cushion. Clark picked up 22 yards on an end-around run across midfield, then found Derrick Williams for a 16-yard gain. A couple Royster runs brought the ball to the Illinois 17, where on first down Clark located tight end Andrew Quarless open in the left side of the end zone.
The touchdown restored Penn State's 14-point edge with 9:03 on the clock. Illinois got several more touches, but didn't capitalize. Dufrene fumbled away the Illini's next possession on a tackle by Navorro Bowman, which Anthony Scirrotto recovered.
Penn State's offense went three-and-out, and after starting at its own 20, Illinois drove to the Penn State 46 before turning the ball over on downs. The Nittany Lions ran out the clock from there to seal the win.
"I have been saying all along that I wouldn't know how good we were until we got into a tough football game; one with a little back-and-forth to it and that we couldn't do everything we wanted to," Paterno said. "And, today, we had that kind of ball game. That is as important as the record because I think we can now play with a little more assurance."
The Illini had the lead first, as on their first possession they drove 60 yards in just six plays. Dufrene had a rush of 30 yards to get to the Penn State 15, and Juice Williams passed to Benn for 13 yards. Jason Ford needed two attempts, but managed to get into the end zone for a 7-0 Illinois lead.
Penn State countered with a touchdown of its own, as Clark's one-yard TD run capped a 73-yard, eight-play series with 6:16 remaining in the opening quarter.
Illinois reclaimed the lead on a remarkable catch by Benn. The wideout stood in the very front-left corner of the end zone and grabbed the pass from Juice Williams as he fell down out of bounds. Initially it was not ruled a catch, but upon review, the TD went up on the scoreboard for a 14-7 Illini lead.
Penn State got a little help in tying the score again. On the first play of the ensuing series, Clark appeared to fumble -- but that call, too, was reversed. The Nittany Lions resumed their series and the 81-yard march was capped by a 21-yard strike from Clark to Derrick Williams, making it 14-14 as the game headed to the second quarter.
Illinois was forced to punt, but another near-fumble by Penn State almost gave the ball back. The ball grazed a Penn State special-teamer, but a call of illegal touching kept the ball in the Nittany Lions' hands. They then went 57 yards for another score. Clark opened the drive with a 24-yard pass to Deon Butler, and Derrick Williams capped it with a five-yard end-around run. Penn State held a 21-14 lead and maintained it going into halftime.
A 25-yard Kevin Kelly field goal put Penn State up by 10 points with a little over nine minutes left in the third quarter.
This was the 16th meeting between these two teams on the gridiron, and Penn State holds a 13-3 advantage all-time, including a perfect 7-0 mark in State College...Illinois had won the last matchup, a 27-20 decision in Champaign in 2007...Derrick Williams is the first player in the Joe Paterno era to notch a rushing, receiving and return TD in the same game...Penn State defensive linemen Abe Koroma and Maurice Evans, who had been suspended the last three games for an incident where police found marijuana in their on-campus apartment, dressed and played, but did not start...Penn State receiver Jordan Norwood sat out the game with a hamstring injury.
09/28 01:56:24 ET