Penn St. shuts out Gophers
Upon further review, Derek Moye's sensational leaping 12 yard touchdown catch with 35 seconds in the first half was ruled good by replay officials.
There was indisputable evidence, however, that Penn State's defense turned in another dominant performance.
Playing with a ''whiteout'' because of some mid-autumn snow that wiped out 20,000 parking spaces around Beaver Stadium Saturday, the Lions threw a 20-0 whitewash at Minnesota for their third straight win.
Penn State (6-1 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) is ranked 13th in the initial Bowl Championship Series rankings released Sunday, as well as in the Associated Press writers' poll. The Lions have moved to 11th in the USA Today Coaches and Harris Interactive Polls.
The shutout was the 40th of the Joe Paterno era and the first for PSU since it blanked Purdue 12-0 in 2006, although the Lions aren't allowing much into the end zone at any rate.
PSU is currently second nationally to Florida in scoring defense at 8.71 points per game and is the only one of 120 NCAA Division I teams not to have allowed a TD in the first half this season. The Lions have surrendered just five total TDs.
Minnesota (4-3) was supposed to present a challenge for the Lions' secondary, which had lost all four starters from last season, particularly with Eric Decker, the Big Ten's leading receiver.
The Lions' A.J. Wallace drew the assignment of covering Decker with some help, and Decker wasn't a factor, making just one catch for 42 yards after PSU had assumed control.
''I just wanted to match his intensity and try to be more physical than he was,'' said Wallace in the post game press conference, the text of which is at www.gopsusports.com. ''I just wanted him to not be able to get into a rhythm with his quarterback and make them be out of sync and throw ill-advised passes.''
The Golden Gophers were held to a mere seven first downs, 37 rushing yards and 138 yards of total offense. Wallace and linebacker Navorro Bowman, who topped PSU with eight tackles, combined to keep Gopher running back Kevin Whaley out of the end zone at the one yard-line to preserve the shutout.
''We take a lot of pride in it,'' said linebacker Josh Hull. ''We had our backs against the wall down there in the end zone. I told all 10 guys on the defense, 'listen, we need to get the job done here' and everyone came through. A.J. had great initial contact and Navorro just came out of nowhere and wrapped the kid's legs up. It was a great job by both of them.''
Hull had another strong game, with six tackles and an interception. Sean Lee returned to action after a three-week hiatus due to a sprained knee and recorded a pair of stops.
Offensively, the Lions held onto the ball for a whopping 41:49 and had Evan Royster churning out 137 yards on 23 carries on the ground. Daryll Clark completed 21 of 32 passes for 287 yards, including the TD to Moye, who snagged six passes for 120 yards for the game.
Still, the Gophers were able to hang around because the Lions weren't punching it across the goal line. Save Moye's great catch, the lone other TD came from Clark, who is making a habit of extending the pigskin into the end zone when his number is called from in close. Other than that, and it was Collin Wagner's two field goals to provided the extent of the PSU scoring.
''We did move the ball well, I think that was obvious, but we didn't do a particularly good job in the red zone,'' said Paterno. ''We came away with a couple of field goals, and then we missed another one. I think the penalties hurt us, I think a couple of dropped passes hurt us. I don't think we played a really sharp game offensively. We played hard and made plays when we had to make them.''