Sanders leads another Penn State second-half surge in Lions’ win

Sanders leads another Penn State second-half surge in Lions’ win

Dating back to previous year, Friday night was the seventh straight game for Penn State with at least 200 rushing yards.

Epstein has had the reins taken off the last two games after coming back from a foot injury - getting 19 carries against South Florida and 13 against Penn State - and is averaging 6.8 yards per carry for the season. After the defense held, Penn State drove 70 yards for its first score, a pretty 14-yard run by Sanders.

IL quarterback M.J. Rivers hit Ricky Smalling for a 6-yard touchdown to cut Penn State's lead to one possession with 6:47 left before the half. Here are five observations from the Illini loss to Penn State. Through four games this season, the Illini have already scored at least that many in three games.

Big plays such as Sanders' go-ahead 48-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and Slade's 61-yard touchdown run in the fourth were particularly damning.

But the biggest difference between this year's running game and last year's is rather simple, Penn State is finally able to go up field and between the tackles.

Reggie Corbin tied things up with a 2-yard rushing touchdown, but Sanders gave the Nittany Lions the lead again thanks to a 2-yard score of his own early in the second quarter.

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"If you put up 63 points and you're not playing a complete game, we're close", McSorley said.

With things going as well as they were on the ground, there was no need to take risks through the air and with both the run game and passing game seemingly having success whenever they so choose, it makes the match up against the Buckeyes that much more intriguing. The Illini took a three-point lead as wide receiver Trenard Davis - a former quarterback - took a reverse and threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Smalling.

The Lions easily moved the ball up the field in the first two quarters, gaining 324 yards, but a fumble and an interception stopped drives.

Tight end Jonathan Holland was the leading receiver, pulling in three receptions for 53 yards.

Illinois' Delano Ware intercepted a deep pass by McSorley into double coverage with about 30 seconds left in the half when Penn State could have opted to run out the clock. Sanders scored on a 2-yard run after a pass interference penalty in the end zone, and freshman tight end Pat Freiermuth scored on a 5-yard pass from McSorley. Corbin ran twice for 66 yards before freshman M.J. Rivers threw a 6-yard dart to Smalling.

"The big plays on defense, we have to do something about that", coach Lovie Smith said. "We're going to have get some things cleaned up".

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