Penn State: Lee squeezes Orange to pulp
Penn State linebacker Sean Lee stops Syracuse running back Delone Carter for one of his 13 tackles yesterday in the Nittany Lions' 28-7 victory at Beaver Stadium.
Penn State Drew Astorino upends Syracuse Van Chew.
Daryll Clark passed for three touchdowns.
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Sean Lee finally met his hero, Jack Ham, then he went out and played like him.
Lee, a fifth-year senior co-captain and outside linebacker, had a team-leading 13 tackles and one sack as No. 7 Penn State struggled before beating Syracuse, 28-7, yesterday in front of 106,387 fans at Beaver Stadium.
"Sean was all over the field," quarterback Daryll Clark said. "He just went crazy."
With fellow outside linebacker Navorro Bowman sitting out with a groin injury, Lee, from Upper St. Clair, turned out to be a one-man wrecking crew.
He had six solo tackles, including three for 17 yards in losses, and seven assists in just his second start since missing all last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Lee's performance earned him a spot on Penn State's postgame show, where Ham interviewed him. He had shaken Lee's hand one week earlier during pregame warm-ups.
"I've always wanted to meet him and I finally did," said Lee. "It was kind of a shock. It was unbelievable. That's the guy that you look up to, that you try to imitate, that you strive to be. Meeting him was the ultimate dream.
"He played at Penn State. He played for my favorite team, the Steelers. He won four Super Bowls. He was a great linebacker. He's a Hall of Famer. He's got everything."
Lee and the Penn State defense held Syracuse (0-2) to 200 yards offense (135 passing, 65 rushing) and 13 first downs. The Lions (2-0) lost their shutout late in the fourth quarter when Syracuse quarterback Greg Paulus threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Donte Davis following a fumble by Penn State backup quarterback Kevin Newsome.
Paulus, the former Duke point guard playing football for the first time since the 2004 high school season, finished 14 of 20 for 105 yards. He was intercepted twice and sacked twice. Lee dropped Paulus for a 13-yard loss at the 36 on a blitz early in the fourth quarter, ending a potential scoring drive.
"Yeah, we wanted to put up a goose egg, get a shutout," Lee said. "But that's part of the game. I thought we fought hard and played well, but we just got to get a little more consistent."
Consistency is something Penn State's offense is seeking.
Tailback Evan Royster had 41 yards on 12 carries, including a 12-yard touchdown run. He also caught his first career touchdown pass, a 49-yarder. On the other hand, he has managed just 445 rushing yards in his past seven games -- an average of 63.6 per game.
Clark completed 20 of 31 passes for 240 yards and threw three touchdown passes for the second consecutive game. He also lost a fumble after a bad exchange with center Stefen Wisniewski and tossed an interception.
In addition to his touchdown toss to Royster, Clark threw a 20-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Graham Zug in the third quarter and a 1-yarder to tight end Mickey Shuler in the fourth.
The Lions managed only 318 yards against the Orangemen, including 78 yards rushing and an average of 2.2 yards per carry.
Penn State coach Joe Paterno made two changes in his inconsistent offensive line in the second quarter. Johnnie Troutman replaced Matt Stankiewitch at left guard and Quinn Barham took over for Lou Eliades at right guard.
"I don't think we've showed anything yet," Paterno said. "I think we've played well enough to win two games. I think we have to get better."
NOTES -- Lee had his fifth career game with at least 13 tackles and his first since the 2007 Alamo Bowl. ... Middle linebacker Josh Hull tied his career high with 11 tackles. ... Zug set career highs with seven catches for 79 yards. ... Outside linebacker Nathan Stupar, who started for Bowman, had his first career interception. ... Free safety Drew Astorino had an interception. ... Defensive tackle Jared Odrick and end Eric Latimore shared a sack. ... Three players from Greensburg Central Catholic started the game. Syracuse strong safety Max Suter had seven tackles and tight end Cody Catalina had one catch for 19 yards. Penn State strong safety Nick Sukay finished with four tackles. ... Syracuse kicker Ryan Lichtenstein from Gateway kicked one extra point and punted once for 23 yards.