Posted at 7:03 p.m., Saturday, December 29, 2007
CFB: Penn State tops Texas A&M, 24-17, in Alamo Bowl
By GENARO C. ARMAS
Evan Royster broke a tie with a 38-yard touchdown run and Deon Butler scored on a controversial 30-yard catch as Penn State erased an early 14-point deficit to beat Texas A&M 24-17 tonight at the Alamo Bowl.
Paterno, college football's leader in bowl appearances (34), led the Nittany Lions in a thriller that brought him his record 23rd postseason win.
Nervously pacing the sideline in his standard khakis and black sneakers, Paterno couldn't breathe easy until the clock ticked down to zero in a roller coaster of a game.
Texas A&M's Stephen McGee led a 15-play drive to the Penn State 2 before losing 4 yards on fourth-and-goal after slipping on an option play with about eight minutes left.
Another A&M drive ended with a punt with 2 minutes left, and Penn State ran out the clock.
The Nittany Lions secured their third straight bowl victory and spoiled Gary Darnell's one-game stint as interim head coach. Darnell took over Nov. 23, when Dennis Franchione resigned, and A&M has hired Mike Sherman, currently offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans, take over as head coach in 2008.
Penn State had scored 17 straight points to take the lead before Matt Szymanski kicked a 38-yard field goal for Texas A&M to tie it at 17 with 3:57 in the third quarter. The 18-play, 78-yard drive took 8:45, the longest drive by plays and time of possession this season for A&M's often beleaguered offense.
The Nittany Lions took the lead for good on the next drive. Anthony Morelli connected with Derrick Williams for a 21-yard reception to the Aggie 41 on a third-and-6 before Royster burst up the middle for the decisive score for plays later.
It looked rough early for Penn State after falling behind 14-0 on two touchdown runs in a 12-second span by A&M's Mike Goodson. A sea of maroon-clad fans that filled the Alamodome roared its approval in hopes of ending a distraction-filled season a high note.