Alabama vs.Penn State
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Greg McElroy threw two touchdown passes and Trent Richardson rushed for a career-high 144 yards and a score as No. 1 Alabama defeated 18th-ranked Penn State, 24-3, in a clash of legendary programs at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
McElroy was an efficient 16-of-24 passing for 229 yards while Richardson added an additional 46 yards on four catches for the Crimson Tide (2-0), who hung 409 yards of offense on the Lions. Penn State freshman quarterback Robert Bolden was picked off twice, completing 13-of-29 passes for 144 yards. Senior Evan Royster was also held in check, gaining 32 yards on nine carries as the Nittany Lions (1-1) turned it over four times – two of those coming in the red zone in the first half.
Alabama set the tone with a score on its second drive, moving 68 yards in just five plays. A 21-yard completion to Julio Jones on the first play moved the ball into Penn State territory and subsequent gains of 14 and eight on passes to Darius Hanks and Marquis Maze set the ball up at the 26. A holding call set the Tide back 10 yards, but McElroy found Kevin Norwood for a 36-yard touchdown on the next play.
The Nittany Lions went three-and-out on their first series, but put together a promising drive on the ensuing possession. Royster converted an early 3rd-and-1 and a 31-yard pass up the right side-line to Derek Moye moved the chains into Alabama territory. Penn State got as far as the 20 before Bolden unleashed a wobbly pass under pressure that was picked off by Will Lowery.
The Crimson Tide embarked on their next scoring venture from there, a nine-play, 97-yard drive that stretched into the second quarter. Richardson picked up four on third-and-3 after rushing for 11, 16 and 33 yards on the first three plays of the drive. A nine-yard run by the sophomore brought the ball inside the red zone and McElroy hit Preston Dial for a 14-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter to make it 14-0.
The Lions took the ball from their own 23 down to the Tide 16-yard line on the ensuing series. Bolden completed a short pass to Chaz Powell, who was stripped of the ball and Robert Lester ran it back up the right sideline before also fumbling inside the Penn State 20. It was recovered by the visitors at their own two, but they had to punt shortly thereafter. Jeremy Shelley split the uprights from 31 yards out to cap Alabama’s next drive for a 17-0 advantage at the half.
Penn State started the second half with the ball and again was able to drive deep into Tide territory. Bolden converted a fourth-and-1 on a quarterback sneak and hit Justin Brown for 20 yards on third-and-10 to get inside the Alabama 30-yard-line. Bolden was soon faced with another third down and had a pass intercepted by Lester at the 13. Penn State would get onto Alabama’s side of the field only once more, resulting in a Collin Wagner 36-yard field goal with 9:47 to play.
"I thought they (Alabama) had a very good football team," Paterno said. "Well-coached, they out-coached us and outplayed us. I thought we played better overall in the second half. I just think we didn’t play with the kind of intensity early enough in the football game that you have to have against a team as good as Alabama. We came down here knowing how good they were and we didn’t wise up to it."
Alabama made it a 24-0 game the series before State’s lone score, as Richardson’s one-yard touchdown plunge finished off a methodical 12-play drive that went 71 yards and took almost 6 1/2 minutes.