Scores

Final

Nebraska 7

(3-1, 0-1 away)

(10) Penn State 40

(2-0, 2-0 home)

8:00 PM ET, September 14, 2002

Beaver Stadium, UNIVERSITY PARK, PA

1 2 3 4 T
NEB 0 7 0 07
#10PSU 0 13 20 740

Paterno and his Lions are back

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- After two years of losing records, Joe Paterno and Penn State are back in a big way.

Larry Johnson

Penn State's Larry Johnson dashed for 123 yards and two TDs.

Larry Johnson and Michael Robinson had two touchdown runs apiece and Rich Gardner turned his first career interception into a touchdown as the No. 25 Nittany Lions routed Nebraska (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) 40-7 Saturday night.

Paterno, who has more major-college wins than any other coach, got No. 329 in front of a record crowd of 110,753. It was the Nittany Lions' first victory over a top-10 team since Sept. 18, 1999, when they beat eighth-ranked Miami 27-23.

Penn State had two lean seasons after that, going 5-6 and then 5-7 -- Paterno's first consecutive losing records in his long career. But with this one victory, the Nittany Lions showed their 75-year-old coach how much they have improved.

"I think this put's us right back on the map and opened a lot of eyes,'' said Bryant Johnson, who had eight receptions for 147 yards.

Penn State (2-0) dominated the third quarter, eating away 7:10 before Robinson's 8-yard touchdown gave the Nittany Lions a 19-7 lead. Mills faked the handoff to Sean McHugh, then gave it to Robinson -- the backup quarterback -- on the end-around.

"I'm not the smartest guy in the world, but I'm smart enough to know when you've got a kid like Robinson, you put him in the game,'' Paterno said.

Gardner intercepted Jammal Lord's pass, intended for Ben Cornelson, and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown to make it 26-7. Nebraska tackle Richie Incognito and Penn State end Jeremiah Davis were ejected after the play for unsportsmanlike conduct.

After holding Nebraska (3-1) to three and out, Penn State got the ball on its own 45. Larry Johnson took the first play 35 yards up the middle, and Robinson -- lined up now at tailback -- ran for 9 yards, then an 11-yard touchdown to give the Nittany Lions a 33-7 lead with 2:15 left in the third quarter.

"He's a great athlete,'' quarterback Zack Mills said. "We're trying to get him in the game, get him some touches.''

Things only got worse for the Cornhuskers in the fourth quarter, when Lord threw his second interception to Lavon Chisley. A personal foul on Nebraska after the play gave Penn State the ball on its own 39.

"In the second half, they put points on the board, and it just kind of snowballed,'' Nebraska coach Frank Solich said. "It did seem we played the game with greatly diminished energy as we fell behind.''

Larry Johnson ran the ball six times in the possession, including a 2-yard sweep around the right side for the score and a 40-7 lead.

Nebraska's last possession ended when Lord threw his third interception to Chris Harrell.

Larry Johnson finished with 123 yards and on 19 carries, his first time over 100 yards. Mills completed 19 of 31 passes for 259 yards.

Robbie Gould kicked field goals of 20 and 34 yards in the second quarter to give Penn State a 13-7 lead at halftime.

Lord had a 27-yard run as the Cornhuskers went 84 yards in eight plays, tying the game at 7-7 on Judd Davies' 2-yard run with 10:04 left in the second quarter.

Lord finished with 111 rushing yards on 14 carries. He was 8-for-16 passing for 76 yards.

"I just played terrible,'' Lord said. "I hurt the team more than I helped them.''

Larry Johnson made a catch in the flat, then went 21 yards to set up the game's first score. Two plays later, he took an option pitch at the 7-yard line and broke two tackles going into the end zone, putting the Nittany Lions up 7-0 early in the second quarter.

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