Penn State pushes aside distractions, rips Oregon State

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Another week of off-field drama couldn't slow down No. 19 Penn State.

The Nittany Lions shoved aside the distraction created by the suspension of two defensive starters, then rolled over Oregon State, 45-14 on Saturday.

Evan Royster rushed for 141 yards and three touchdowns, Daryll Clark threw two TD passes and the Nittany Lions defense didn't miss a beat when it counted.

"We got to go out and focus on football," said Josh Gaines, a defensive end and team captain. Penn State has had to deal with a string of off-field concerns since April 2007.

"We got a good team here, great players. It showed today," Gaines said. "If we really want to get something done, we can get it done."

In surprisingly easy fashion, too.

What was supposed to be Penn State's toughest nonconference game of the year turned into a laugher early. Oregon State fell to 0-2 for the first time since 2004.

Clark looked poised in the pocket in his second career start, finishing 14-of-23 passing for 215 yards, while also running for an 18-yard score. Jordan Norwood finished with a career-high 116 receiving yards on eight catches, including a 22-yard touchdown reception.

Royster had 112 yards and all three of his touchdowns with 11-plus minutes left in the second quarter.

"We didn't tackle well. We didn't get off the field on third down," Oregon State cornerback Brandon Hughes said. "When that you happens, you can't win a game like that."

Mickey Shuler tiptoed the sideline in the end zone for an acrobatic 5-yard touchdown catch to give Penn State (2-0) a 14-0 lead before the Beavers sputtered on their next drive.

Gaines tackled tailback Ryan McCants for no gain, before fellow defensive end Aaron Maybin leveled the Beavers' Lyle Moevao just as the quarterback released the ball to force Oregon State to punt from their own 37.

That didn't go well either.

The snap to punter Johnny Hekker was wide. Hekker tried to run but was tackled by Penn State's Nate Stupar for a 9-yard loss.

Two plays later, Royster went off tackle for an easy 28-yard touchdown run to give Penn State a 21-0 lead with 14:41 left in the second quarter.

Three-plus minutes later, Royster got terrific lead blocks from receiver Brett Brackett and fullback Dan Lawlor to score easily from 4 yards out on a sweep for a 28-0 lead.

"Everything seemed to go well for us early, and it put them on their heels," coach Joe Paterno said.

By that time, the biggest concern for the giddy student section was whether they could twirl their white rally towels in the air in unison while cheering "We are ... Penn State!" They were headed for the exits by early in the fourth quarter, with the Nittany Lions up by 38.

It was Paterno's 374th career victory, temporarily putting him one ahead of Florida State's Bobby Bowden for most wins among major college coaches. The Seminoles were to play Western Carolina later Saturday.

Regardless, Saturday's win made Paterno feel good about his defense after the Hall of Fame coach didn't play pass-rushing end Maurice Evans or fellow starting defensive lineman Abe Koroma because of an unspecified off-field issue.

Paterno had initially said he would hold out a third player, Andrew Quarless, for the game for the same issue, but the second-string tight end did suit up Saturday. He took part in warmups, but did not play.

Paterno after the game didn't disclose why he changed his mind on Quarless, and said he wasn't sure about when Evans or Koroma would play next.

He was happy, though, with the guys who stepped up to fill the void.

"You got some good [assistant] coaches, and some good kids who realize there's an opportunity for them," Paterno said.

Oregon State had a few highlights, including Jacquizz Rodgers' 12-yard scoring run late in the second quarter, when the freshman broke three tackles up the middle and tumbled into the end zone. Rodgers added a fourth-quarter TD run and finished with 99 yards on 22 carries.

Moevao finished 25-of-41 for 250 yards and two interceptions.