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Paterno watches Penn State win

January 02, 2007|From the Associated Press

TAMPA, FLA. — Joe Paterno insisted all along that he needed his players and assistant coaches more than they needed him in the Outback Bowl.

Maybe the longtime Penn State coach was right.

With Paterno watching from the press box while recovering from a broken leg, Tony Hunt ran for 158 yards and Tony Davis returned a fumble 88 yards for a touchdown Monday, leading the Nittany Lions to a 20-10 victory over No. 17 Tennessee.

Anthony Morelli threw a two-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Quarless and Kevin Kelly kicked two field goals for Penn State, helping Paterno -- the all-time leader in bowl wins -- get his 22nd postseason victory.

"They need me like they need a hole in the head," Paterno said. "But I don't like it up there. It's not much fun."

Penn State (9-4) forced three turnovers in holding Tennessee (9-4) to a season-low point total, and the Nittany Lions improved to 16-6 in New Year's Day bowls under their 80-year-old coach.

"You play against Joe Paterno's football teams, they're going to be tough, they're going to disciplined, they're going to be able to run the football," said Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer, who also lost to Penn State in the 1994 Florida Citrus Bowl.

"I knew that, having been there before. I learned some great lessons from him the last time. If we take care of the football better, at least it's a more interesting game there at the end."

Sloppy weather -- the game was played through intermittent rain -- contributed to Paterno's decision to join some of his assistants in a booth high above the field.

The sometimes cantankerous coach was shown on television pounding his fist on a table when Kelly's 45-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left in the first quarter. The kicker later missed attempts of 54 and 50 yards with the score tied, 10-10.

It stayed that way until Davis picked up a fumble by Tennessee's Arian Foster and raced untouched up the left sideline to put Penn State ahead for good with 10 minutes left. Kelly made his second field goal with 3:29 left.

Morelli completed 14 of 25 passes for 197 yards and no interceptions.

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