Sept. 3, 2005
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 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 crowd.
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 later.
Penn State's offense, buoyed by new speed gained in the offseason by the additions of King and fellow freshman Derrick Williams, did not struggle until the end.
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.