STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Running back Tony Hunt's contributions to Penn State's offense have sometimes been overlooked this season amid all the attention over the team's fast freshmen receivers.
On Saturday, in Penn State's 33-15 win over Purdue, he stole the show late, and he didn't even score a touchdown.
Hunt ran for 129 of Penn State's 303 rushing yards, slipping past and bullying his way over numerous tacklers on key fourth-quarter runs as the 11th-ranked Nittany Lions (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten) went to the ground game to thwart a late comeback attempt by the Boilermakers (2-6, 0-5).
"I don't think I ever really got too much fanfare, so I'm used to it," Hunt said. "It's not going to stop me from playing hard."
Kevin Kelly booted four field goals, Rodney Kinlaw had a dazzling 58-yard kickoff return to set up a score and quarterback Michael Robinson added 96 yards and one touchdown on the ground for Penn State, which is trying to win its first Big Ten title since 1994.
Hunt had 52 yards in the fourth quarter and the gains came against a Purdue defense that was giving up just 122 rushing yards game coming into Saturday. Hunt's clutch performance wasn't overlooked by coach Joe Paterno.
"We let them hang around and hang around and hang around," Paterno said. "I thought we were going to blow this game and Hunt picked it up."
Redshirt freshman quarterback Curtis Painter had a 24-yard touchdown run for Purdue before being replaced by senior Brandon Kirsch to start the second half. Kirsch added a 4-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
The Boilermakers, who started the season in the Top 25, lost their sixth straight, and Joe Tiller is assured of his first losing record in his nine seasons as Purdue coach.
"This is a hurdle you have to clear," Tiller said. "I don't think too much about it, I think about winning a football game."
Kirsch had started the first six games for Purdue before Tiller turned to Painter in last week's loss to Wisconsin. Painter was misfiring on some passes in the first half, and while Kirsch had some success after halftime, he also had some miscues when he
overthrew the ball several times.
"It's things like that that cause you to lose your hair," Tiller said.
Penn State gained 516 yards while holding Purdue to a season-low 277, 102 yards fewer than in a Sept. 17 win over Arizona. The Nittany Lions more than doubled Purdue on first downs, 29-14.
Kirsch had some success after coming into the game. He led Purdue on a 58-yard scoring drive, thanks in part to 23-yard catch by Dorien Bryant, that ended with Kirsch's first TD run of the year. Bryant ran for a two-point conversion to cut the Penn State lead to 23-15.
Kirsch was 11-of-21 for 102 yards. Painter was 6-of-17 for 60 yards.
But on the next drive, Hunt, Robinson and Justin King had long runs to help Penn State drive to the Purdue 5. Kelly nailed a 22-yard attempt for a 26-15 lead.
"I think they set their jaw and decided they were going to run the ball," Tiller said.
Robinson finished 13-of-29 passing for 213 yards.
The Nittany Lions came up big on special teams after a couple early miscues, including a Calvin Lowry fumble on a punt return.
Kinlaw set up one of BranDon Snow's two touchdown runs with his 58-yard return after taking the second-half kickoff just inside the end zone, sidestepping and slipping away from some tacklers before being pushed out of bounds at the Purdue 42.
Four plays later, Hunt turned a screen pass into a 23-yard gain before Snow bull-rushed his way into the end zone for a 2-yard score. Snow leaped into the arms of teammate Charles Rush as the homecoming crowd roared its approval.
Ethan Kilmer, a former walk-on who has impressed on special teams this year, had six tackles, including one forced fumble on a punt return.
"He's a tough kid, he likes to play, and he's starting to become a leader of that kick coverage team," Paterno said.
On a seasonably cool afternoon, a disputed call caused Paterno and his assistants to have a heated discussion with referees in the second quarter. The ball slipped out of Robinson's hands as he was tackled from behind, but the referees initially ruled Robinson was already down.
The play was ruled a fumble after a replay, which irritated Paterno. He stormed to a side judge, yelled and pointed at him angrily before stomping away as the crowd cheered him on.
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