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Downtrodden Penn State falls to Boston College

September 12, 2004|By By RAY PARRILLO

CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. - Penn State couldn't run the ball, couldn't handle the trickery of Boston College quarterback Paul Peterson and, on too many occasions, couldn't think straight.

If this sounds familiar to Nittany Lions followers who cringed while watching these guys go through the agonizing 2003 season, that's because it is.

Any encouragement Penn State was able to draw from its 48-10 opening-day win over Akron was siphoned away by Boston College on Saturay night as the Eagles (2-0) knocked off the Nittany Lions, 21-7, in a non-conference game before a sellout crowd of 44,500 at Alumni Stadium.

Using his scrambling ability to buy himself time and orchestrating a ball-control offense that kept Penn State's defense off balance most of the game, Peterson tossed three touchdown passes as BC defeated the Nittany Lions for the second straight season and third consecutive time overall. There was a time when Penn State owned BC, winning 19 of the first 20 meetings.

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Penn State also picked up on a bad habit it carried through last season when it allowed 11 backs to run for more than 100 yards in a game. This time, it was BC's Andre Callender, a redshirt freshman, surpassing the 100-yard standard in the first extensive action of his career.

For the Nittany Lions, the bad omens came early when they were called for two roughing-the-punter penalties during BC's first possession, helping the Eagles to an early lead and enabling them to build momentum they never allowed to slip away. Penn State also had five turnovers as Zack Mills was intercepted four times. His fourth interception came with 2 minutes, 43 seconds remaining, when the Nittany Lions were threatening to score.

The cool night quickly turned hot for Penn State coach Joe Paterno, who raced up the sideline as he fumed at an official over a roughing-the-punter call against Darien Hardy on BC's first possession.

Some of the Nittany Lions were gesturing that Hardy had gotten a piece of the ball, but their protests were to no avail.

The Eagles, with quarterback Paul Peterson pecking away at the Penn State defense, went on to take a 7-0 lead with an 80-yard drive capped by a 6-yard pass from Peterson to tight end David Kashetta. The 6-foot-4 Kashetta used his three-inch height advantage over Penn State cornerback Anwar Phillips to make a leaping catch.

Amazingly, the drive was kept alive when BC got a first down for a second time on a roughing-the-punter call. It wound up consuming 6:52.

Penn State seemed bent on tying the score when Mills completed three passes for 31 yards and Tony Hunt made a great spin move for a 12-yard gain to the BC 16. But after an offside call against Penn State, an interception by linebacker Ray Henderson ended the drive. Brian Toal, a highly regarded freshman linebacker, tipped the pass by Mills to set up the interception.

BC made it a 14-0 halftime lead by capitalizing on another Penn State mistake. Fullback Paul Jefferson lost a fumble at the Nittany Lions' 26 when he was hit by the Eagles' Jolonn Dunbar. Ricky Brown recovered, and it took Peterson only one play to cash in as he fired a 26-yard scoring pass to Grant Adams with 8:19 remaining in the half.

Penn State was not finished making mistakes, and the Nittany Lions were fortunate not to fall further behind after Ethan Kilmer was called for interfering with the punt-returner, giving the Eagles the ball on the Penn State 46. This time, BC failed to make the Nittany Lions pay.

The Eagles used a short passing game to control the ball for 18:14 of the first half as Peterson completed 14 of 20 throws for 113 yards.

He threw 14 passes in the first quarter, when the Eagles had the ball for 9:38.

BC was playing without running back L.V. Whitworth, who had gained 129 yards in its opening-game win over Ball State. But it found a capable replacement in Andre Callender, a speedy redshirt freshman who ran for 77 yards on 11 carries in the first half, giving Penn State's defense something more to worry about.

Mills looked sharp in the opening half, completing his first six passes and 10 of 13, but he had nothing to show for it until he hit Ryan Scott with a 13-yard TD pass early in the third quarter to pull Penn State to within 14-7. The catch was the first of the wide receiver's college career.

The Penn State TD didn't shake the Eagles, who went on another time-consuming drive that ended with Peterson's third touchdown throw, a 2-yarder to Mark Palmer. BC chewed 7:51 off the clock on the 74-yard, 16-play drive. Entering the fourth quarter, the Nittany Lions faced another 14-point deficit.

Notes: Hardy, a redshirt junior cornerback from Northeast High School, traveled to the game after attending funeral services in Philadelphia for his father, Daryal, a detective who died of kidney cancer. ... Penn State probably could have used the aid of the Big Ten Conference's video replay system late in the first half, when it appeared that BC running back Jeff Ross had fumbled, with the Nittany Lions' Matthew Rice recovering inside the Eagles' 10-yard line in the final minute. But the system was not in effect for the nonconference road game. ... Penn State's traveling roster of 65 players included seven true freshmen and nine redshirt freshmen. ... Boston College has more players (15) from New Jersey than any other state. ... The Nittany Lions will conclude the non-conference portion of their schedule Saturday when Central Florida visits Beaver Stadium.

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