STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Alan Zemaitis returned a fumble 16
yards for a score and Tony Hunt rushed for a touchdown and set up
another score with a long run as Penn State's new-look offense
clicked early before struggling late in a 23-13 win over South
Florida on Saturday.
Penn State (1-0) was up 3-0 when South Florida quarterback
Courtney Denson was hit in the backfield by Tim Shaw. Zemaitis
scooped up the loose ball and ran untouched into the end zone,
holding the ball over his head as he crossed the goal line to give
Penn State a 10-0 lead.
Teammates mobbed Zemaitis in the left corner of the end zone as
fans clad in blue and white cheered on the warm, sunny afternoon
that marked the beginning of Joe Paterno's 40th season as Penn
State's head coach.
Hunt scored on a 1-yard touchdown plunge early in the second
quarter to give the Nittany Lions a 17-0 lead. He added a 70-yard
run midway through the fourth quarter that set up a 4-yard
touchdown run by quarterback Michael Robinson to help seal the win.
Johnny Peyton had two touchdown catches for the Bulls (0-1),
including a 4-yard score late in the fourth quarter.
Hoping to open up an offense that sputtered last season, Paterno
toyed in practice with different formations, including
multiple-receiver sets, to stretch defenses.
The new looks paid off early and excited the Beaver Stadium
Freshman Justin King, one of Paterno's star recruits in the
offseason, had a 61-yard run off a reverse after Penn State lined
up in a two-back, two-wideout formation. King eluded several
tacklers, then found a hole and darted down the left sideline
before pulled down from behind.
Kevin Kelly kicked a 23-yard field goal five plays later to give
Penn State a 3-0 lead.
Up 10-0, Chris Harrell intercepted a pass from Pat Julmiste, who
relieved Denson, deep in South Florida territory after Julmiste was
pressured by Tamba Hali. Hunt scored his touchdown three plays
Penn State's offense, buoyed by new speed gained in the
offseason by the additions of King and fellow freshman Derrick
Williams, struggled after that, however.
Robinson fumbled on an option pitch to Williams to stall one
drive and another one ended with an interception.
Stymied by Penn State's defense early, South Florida finally
scored late in the second quarter after getting the ball back
following an interception by Trae Williams.
On third-and-goal from the Penn State 8-yard line, South Florida
lined up for a field goal but then called timeout. The Bulls
returned to the field with the offense as the crowd implored the
defense to come up with a stop.
It didn't happen. Julmiste threw a high touch pass to the left
side of the end zone to the 6-foot-5 Peyton. Peyton jumped high for
the ball, beating the 6-foot King, who also played cornerback, to
cut Penn State's lead to 17-7.
Peyton scored on a similar play in the fourth quarter.