November 05, 2005

Penn State Shuts Down Wisconsin, 35-14

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Tamba Hali had four sacks to lead a ferocious defense, while Michael Robinson threw two touchdown passes and ran for 125 yards as No. 10 Penn State inched closer to claiming the Big Ten's BCS bid by defeating No. 14 Wisconsin 35-14 Saturday.

Tony Hunt added 151 yards and two scores for the Nittany Lions (9-1, 6-1), who can guarantee a trip to a BCS bowl by winning their final regular-season game, at Michigan State on Nov. 19.

Hali, a senior defensive end playing his final game at Beaver Stadium, led the charge, running around or over most of the blockers Wisconsin threw his way. Besides the sacks, he had seven tackles for a loss.

"Our kids have played hard defense all year. Tamba — I've been bragging on Tamba since preseason," Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. He then paid Hali his signature compliment, "Tamba's a heck of a football player."

The Badgers (8-2, 5-2) fell back in the conference race after Penn State held tailback Brian Calhoun to 20 carries and 38 yards, well below his 135-yard average coming into the game. The Badgers also had the league's highest-scoring offense at 39.7 points coming into the contest.

"Obviously, we couldn't block them very well, you could see that," said Barry Alvarez, who is stepping down as Wisconsin coach after the season. "We couldn't establish the run and had a hard time with pressure off the edge."

Penn State sacked Badgers quarterback John Stocco nine times.

"When you're back there dropping in pass coverage looking every which way and you just see the quarterback get crushed, that's such a great feeling," said linebacker Dan Connor.

Calhoun did get a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for the Badgers, setting a school record with 22 for the year.

Penn State never trailed after scoring on its opening drive. Terrell Golden made an over-the-shoulder reception for a 21-yard gain to put the ball at the Wisconsin 47. Two plays later, Robinson rolled right and hit Deon Butler in the end zone to give the Nittany Lions a 7-0 lead.

Hunt and BranDon Snow added rushing touchdowns as the Nittany Lions built a 21-0 by midway through the second quarter, an advantage that allowed an already-solid defense to be more aggressive, Connor said.

Fans waved white rally flags and Guns-n-Roses blared over the loudspeakers as Wisconsin opened the second half on offense. Calhoun was held to short runs before Hali, on third-and-6, ran past guard Jason Palermo and another blocker and sacked Stocco.

Penn State stalled on its next drive, but Wisconsin failed to capitalize. Calhoun was pushed out of bounds on a swing pass for a 5-yard gain, linebacker Paul Posluszny snuffed a short pass for a 2-yard loss and Stocco threw an incompletion after getting pressured from Hali and Scott Paxson.

Robinson hit Butler on a 47-yard touchdown pass on Penn State's next drive to seal the win. Robinson finished 13-of-28 passing for 238 yards and had two interceptions.

Alvarez praised Robinson as a dual threat "that presents a lot of problems. He's a Michael Vick-type player."

Robinson, a fifth-year senior in his first year as the full-time starting quarterback, said his last home game was emotional, "but what a way to go out."

Stocco's two interceptions came in the first half, including a pick by Alan Zemaitis after he leaped in front of Owen Daniels in the back of the end zone and fell flat on his back.

Brandon White had a 10-yard touchdown catch for Wisconsin midway through the fourth quarter after jumping in the end zone, catching the ball and falling on his back to slice Penn State's lead to 28-14, but Wisconsin never got closer.

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