Bolden solid in debut as Penn State dominates Youngstown State
University Park, PA (Sports Network) - True freshman quarterback Rob Bolden threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns in his collegiate debut, leading Penn State to a 44-14 rout of Youngstown State in the 2010 opener for both schools.
Bolden, who won a three-way quarterback competition for the Nittany Lions (1-0), completed 20-of-29 passes and was picked off once, as PSU improved to 38-7 in season openers under the ageless Joe Paterno, who has returned for his 45th season at the helm of Penn State.
Paterno, the all-time winningest coach in FBS history, added victory No. 395 in his 527th game with the Nittany Lions.
"I thought overall (Bolden) played a good, solid game," Paterno said. "He's got a good arm, he has some poise and he did some things a little better than the other (two quarterbacks) on more occasions. There were days where I came off the field not knowing who I wanted to play. I've been around long enough, and I've been around a few kids in 60 years, and he just seemed to be the right guy at the right time."
Brett Brackett set career-highs with eight catches, 98 yards and two touchdowns, while Derek Moye had five receptions for 61 yards. Chaz Powell added a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the win.
Kurt Hess completed 21-of-25 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns for Youngstown State (0-1), which finished 6-5 last year in the FCS' Missouri Valley Conference. Dominique Barnes had 11 receptions for 134 yards, including an 80-yard score in the first quarter.
Penn State started off slowly, and Youngstown State hung in the game for the opening half.
The Nittany Lions failed to gain a first down on their opening drive, but started to move the ball on their next possession. A roughing the passer call on Youngstown State helped Penn State move into Penguins territory, though the drive stalled at the Youngstown State 28-yard line.
Collin Wagner opened the scoring with a 44-yard field goal.
The Penguins, though, responded immediately with a big play. On 3rd-and-10 from the YSU 20, Hess threw a short screen pass to Barnes, who outran several Penn State defenders from the right side of the field to the left sideline. He sprinted into the endzone for an 80-yard score, putting Youngstown State ahead, 7-3, with just over two minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
"It was very exciting," Hess said of the play. "I'm out there and emotions are running high. The crowd is going crazy. On third down, we've got to execute. We've got to be sharper on 3rd-and-10, more focused. The play just worked out for us. I threw him the ball, and Dom did the rest of the work.
Penn State was able to get into Youngstown State territory again on its next drive, but once again had to settle for a field goal attempt. Wagner drilled a 49-yard try in the first minute of the second quarter for a 7-6 contest.
The Penguins got into PSU territory on each of their next two drives, but came away with no points, and the Nittany Lions grabbed the lead for good on their last drive of the first half.
An eight-play, 68-yard march was highlighted by two long passing plays. On 3rd-and-10 from the PSU 32, Bolden hit Moye on the right sideline for 27 yards, and Bolden found Brackett down the middle from 20 yards out on 3rd- and-3 for the go-ahead touchdown and a 13-7 lead with 1:20 left.
"I think Rob did a great job for his first start," Brackett said. "He showed above and beyond what we expected with his poise and confidence. He did a great job reading the defense, finding the holes and finding me."
PSU got the ball back with just under a minute to go after a brief Penguins drive, and the Nittany Lions put Wagner in position for another field goal. On the final play of the half, Wagner drilled a 48-yard field goal for a nine- point halftime margin.
Powell expanded the lead right away to start the second half, returning the opening kickoff of the second half 100 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown and a 23-7 PSU lead.
After a three-and-out for the Penguins, Bolden led Penn State 58 yards in seven plays, culminating in a 22-yard touchdown strike to Brackett for a 30-7 advantage with nine minutes left in the third.
Stephfon Green's six-yard touchdown run and Kevin Newsome's one-yard plunge into the end zone capped Penn State's fourth quarter scoring, and Hess threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Ely Ducatel in the final minute of the contest to account for the final margin.
Powell's return was the first 100-yard kickoff return for a score in school history since Rich Mauti did it against Temple at Franklin Field in 1975. Mauti's son, Mike, is a linebacker on the current Penn State team...The Nittany Lions are 103-19-2 all-time in season openers...PSU running back Evan Royster ran for 40 yards on 11 carries and needs 441 yards to break Curt Warner's school rushing record...Penn State has won both meetings with Youngstown State...Youngstown State is 19-24-1 against FBS schools...Bolden is the first true freshman quarterback to start the opener under Paterno's regime.
09/04 17:24:06 ET