Penn State's Collins throws off doubts, Rutgers, 31-7

September 26, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Like clockwork, Rutgers showed up here last night to inspire another Penn State quarterback.

A year after John Sacca shredded Rutgers' secondary, Kerry Collins carved up the Scarlet Knights' defense for a 31-7 Penn State win before 92,000 at Beaver Stadium.

Not even a relentless rain could keep Collins from a four-touchdown pass performance in his first start since reclaiming the job this week.

He revived Penn State's passing game and quickly terminated a budding quarterback controversy.

By the time the demoted Sacca got into the game with 8:31 left, at least half of the Beaver Stadium crowd already had departed.

"I was a little nervous," Collins said. "But it was more nervous excitement. I started before, so it wasn't something new. I tried to get in rhythm right away, and was able to do that."

A year ago, Sacca established himself as the starter by throwing for 303 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-24 victory over Rutgers. After consecutive poor outings, Sacca was benched last week and nearly quit.

Last night, Collins completed 18 of 25 for 222 yards, a career-high four touchdowns and one interception. He hit tight end Kyle Brady for two scores, covering distances of 15 yards and 1 yard. He also tossed a 4-yarder to Mike Archie and a 20-yarder to split end Bobby Engram.

As if that wasn't enough, Collins also set up a third-quarter touchdown with a nifty 28-yard run. Collins, 6 feet 5 and 235 pounds, showed his strength in the fourth quarter when he slammed into Jay Bellamy on another keeper and momentarily knocked out the Rutgers safety.

"Last year we had to throw to beat them," coach Joe Paterno said. "They are a big, strong team. They've had some bumps and bruises in the secondary and we thought maybe we could throw the football on them."

It was just like old times for ninth-ranked Penn State, which improved to 4-0. The Nittany Lions, now representing the Big Ten, revisited their non-conference past and picked on one of their favorite patsies.

This was the Lions' fifth straight win over Rutgers, and the 20th in the past 21 games of the series.

Next week, Penn State visits winless Maryland.

Rutgers' annual fit of frustration in the lopsided series continued in the first half. The Scarlet Knights got inside the Penn State 10-yard line twice early in the game and both times came away empty.

The first scoring threat ended when Penn State safety Derek Bochna intercepted quarterback Ray Lucas in the end zone after Rutgers had moved from its 22 to the Penn State 6.

In the second quarter, Rutgers was unable to take advantage of a 75-yard kickoff return by Terrell Willis. The Knights reached the 5-yard line on that series, where an illegal procedure penalty nullified Lucas' touchdown pass to Chris Brantley.

After another motion penalty and an incompletion, John Benestad was wide left on a 33-yard field-goal try.

Penn State's offense, meanwhile, punched out a pair of 80-yard touchdown drives and nearly had a third.

The Lions went 80 yards after Bochna's interception to take a 7-0 lead. Tailback Ki-Jana Carter had runs of 17 and 11 yards, and Collins threw 18 yards to Engram as the Lions moved down the field.

They didn't face a third-down call until they reached the Rutgers' 4. There, Collins tossed a screen to the left side, and tailback Mike Archie ran untouched to the end zone.

On Penn State's next offensive play, Collins hit wide receiver Chip LaBarca on a fly pattern for 46 yards to the Rutgers' 12. That set up the 40th field goal of Craig Fayak's career, tying him with school record holder Massimo Manca.

The score went to 17-0 when Collins hit Brady with a play-action pass and 15-yard touchdown halfway through the second quarter.

Penn State missed a chance to put the game away in the final minute of the first half when Carter fumbled on the goal line.

Collins completed 13 of 18 for 187 yards and two touchdowns in the first half.

NOTES: Penn State DT Lou Benfatti, a fifth-year senior, is one of 12 national finalists for the Lombardi Award, given to the college lineman of the year. Benfatti is Penn State's first Lombardi finalist since G Sean Farrell in 1982. . . . For the fourth time this season, Penn State won the opening coin toss and deferred to the second half.

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