No. 10 Penn State flags down Rutgers, 37-17

October 20, 1991|By Ray Parrillo | Ray Parrillo,Knight-Ridder News Service

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- It was a colorless game, except for the 31 yellow penalty flags that rained down on the field and the rare fashion statement several Penn State players made with their ankles wrapped in black tape.

And it was a sloppy game, filled with ineptitude, almost lacking in memorable performances.

All it was, really, was a 37-17 win for 10th-ranked Penn State over Rutgers before a homecoming crowd of 95,729 at Beaver Stadium. For the Nittany Lions, it was a little salve to heal the hurt of last week's tough loss to Miami.

FTC There's no need to save the videotape of this one because, as Penn State coach Joe Paterno said, "It's hard to judge what happened out there."

Basically, what happened was this: Penn State quarterback Tony Sacca made up for a so-so passing performance with a couple of clutch runs, including a 20-yard burst early in the fourth quarter that dropped Rutgers into a 31-17 hole.

Also, Terry Smith, knocked woozy early in the game, still caught six passes to run his total to 43 and set a Penn State single-season standard. The former record was held by Jack Curry for 25 years.

"Right now, the record doesn't mean anything," said Smith, whose catches accounted for 75 yards. "Once I leave here and look back on it, that's probably when it will mean something."

Otherwise, Penn State (6-2) and Rutgers (5-2) combined for an incredible 314 yards in penalties as the Scarlet Knights saw their four-game winning streak, their longest since 1981, come to an end. Rutgers was penalized 16 times, Penn State 15.

"We keep shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties," said Sacca, who completed 13 of 28 passes for 220 yards and was intercepted once. "But we're 6-2 and trying to make the most of this season and trying to go 10-2."

The Nittany Lions were dangling a little hope in front of the Scarlet Knights until Sacca took control by leading a big fourth-quarter scoring drive.

On third-and-17 from the Penn State 24, Sacca bolted up the middle and lowered his 6-foot-5, 225-pound body into three defenders for the final 3 yards of a 19-yard run.

Then, on third-and-17 from the Rutgers 20, Sacca sprinted into the corner of the end zone with 11 minutes, 11 seconds left in the game.

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