Powell’s Runback, Strong Rushing Attack Propel Penn State Victory

Story posted September 4, 2011 in Sports, CommRadio by Ryan Smith

Chaz Powell returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown as the Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Indiana State Sycamores 41-7 to open the 2011 season at Beaver Stadium on Saturday.

The crowd of 96,461 barely had a chance to take their seats before Powell put six points on the board with the kick return. The senior kick returner waited patiently for his blocks, cut back to the right side of the field, found a seam and turned the corner on his way to the end zone.

“I give all the credit to the return unit, staying on their blocks,” Powell said. “I preach to them, whenever we step on the field, we have to go out and make a statement.”

The opening score for Powell was his second career kick return touchdown; he also ran back the second-half kickoff against Youngstown State in the 2010 opener.

Powell’s return delayed discussions about the Nittany Lions’ starting quarterback. Sophomore Rob Bolden started the game, but split playing time with redshirt junior Matt McGloin. McGloin had the edge on the stat sheet, completing six of eight attempts for 77 yards, while Bolden only completed half of his 12 throws for 37 yards.

After the game, head coach Joe Paterno refused to lean toward one quarterback over the other in looking to ahead to the matchup with Alabama next Saturday.

“I think both of them can play,” Paterno said. “They’ve been under an awful lot of pressure, but they’ll get better.”

Bolden was asked if a one or two quarterback system would be better for Penn State in their game against Alabama next Saturday.

“One,” he said. “Either me or Matt [McGloin]. Hopefully me, but this team needs one guy to establish himself and get a rhythm.”

McGloin simply preferred whichever system would win the game.

“I would like to be the one and only guy,” he said. “But if Joe [Paterno] wants two guys in there, and that’s going to make us win, I’m fine with it.”

One position with no controversy this season is running back. Sophomore Silas Redd picked up his second career 100-yard rushing game, gaining 104 yards on just 12 carries. Redd also accounted for two of the Lions’ five rushing touchdowns.

Overall, ten Penn State rushers combined for 279 yards on the ground, but it was Redd’s electric moves that brought fans to their feet. Redd admitted his heightened anticipation for his first college start.

“I was up early and could have been tweeting but I was just preparing myself for the game,” he said.

But even with his personal excitement, the sophomore understands the importance of team goals as well.

“If I can gain a few yards and get a few touchdowns on the way to a ‘W,’ that’s fine with me,” Redd said.

While the offensive storylines ruled the afternoon, Penn State’s defense dominated the Sycamores. Excluding a meaningless fourth quarter touchdown drive, Indiana State could only muster 108 yards of total offense. Penn State also intercepted two Ronnie Fouch passes and recovered a fumble.

After the game, Paterno raved about his defensive squad, but understands the test that lies ahead in the Crimson Tide.

“I think we’re a pretty good defensive football team,” he said. “But we have to go against somebody like [Alabama] that has the kind of skilled people that have the ability to control the football.”

The anticipation will hit a whole new precipice this week, with a rematch against the Alabama Crimson Tide lurking. Last season, an under-experienced Nittany Lion squad bowed to their SEC opponent 24-3 in Tuscaloosa. The two teams square off next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Beaver Stadium. ComRadio will have complete live coverage of the game.

Ryan Smith is a junior majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact Ryan, e-mail rds5164@psu.edu.