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Big Ten: QB Mills leads Penn State despite sprained shoulder

©Associated Press
October 6, 2002

MADISON, Wis. -- Quarterback Zack Mills found the perfect medicine for his sprained shoulder.

Mills recovered a fumble by fullback Paul Jefferson at the 1 and tumbled into the end zone for a first-quarter touchdown in Penn State's 34-31 win over Wisconsin on Saturday.

Mills landed on his left (throwing) shoulder on the Nittany Lions' second drive and feared he'd join Badgers star Lee Evans on the sideline.

"At first they thought it was separated, but I went in and had it checked," Mills said. "It was painful when I first went back in.

"But on the fumble the adrenaline kicked in and I didn't feel anything."

Mills completed 21 of 37 for 287 yards and set a school record with 686 yards passing in consecutive games, surpassing Kerry Collins' mark of 630 set in 1993.

Evans didn't feel good enough to play. The Badgers hoped to have Evans, the Big Ten's leading receiver in 2001, back for their first conference game.

"I'd be lying if I said a lot of people didn't have one eye on it or crammed into the back of their head," Badgers quarterback Brooks Bollinger said. "But you can't throw a kid out to the wolves with one leg. He'll know when he's healthy and that will be a happy day."

Evans injured his left knee in the spring game April 20 but the Badgers hadn't really missed him until Saturday, when their offensive line couldn't hold off the pass rush and their group of young receivers made some mistakes in the fourth quarter.

Trailing 28-23 with 11:24 left, the Badgers got the ball at the Penn State 47, their best field position. But sophomore Darren Charles had his second drop of the game, then freshman Jonathan Orr let a perfect pass bounce off his chest at the 25 on third down.

"We've been making those plays," Badgers coach Barry Alvarez said. "You have to make (those) plays, particularly at crunch time. That was huge."

The Nittany Lions capitalized by moving 40 yards in seven plays for Robbie Gould's career-long 51-yard field goal that made it 31-23.

Gould's fourth field goal, a 40-yarder, made it an 11-point game with 2:55 left. The score became critical when the Badgers pulled to 34-31 with 1:17 left, as Bollinger hit Orr from 28 yards and Dwayne Smith ran in the 2-point conversion.

* * *

OHIO ST. 27, NORTHWESTERN 16: Freshman Maurice Clarett ran for two scores on the way to his fourth straight 100-yard game, one shy of the school record, and Mike Nugent kicked two field goals for the visiting Buckeyes.

Clarett had 140 yards, giving him 715 in five games, but also fumbled three times. Craig Krenzel was 11 of 22 for 170 yards and ran for 62 yards as Ohio State improved to 6-0 for the first time since 1998.

It was the Buckeyes' 23rd straight victory over Northwestern dating to 1971.

The Wildcats missed two field goals and settled for field goals on two other possessions inside the OSU 10. And with his team driving late, Brett Basanez's pass was intercepted at the OSU 25.

Jason Wright ran for 95 yards and a score. Basanez was 24-of-45 for 283 yards.

Clarett fumbled on two of OSU's first three possessions, setting up Northwestern's first field goal.

The Buckeyes didn't score until the second quarter, on a 3-yard run by Tampa Gaither graduate Lydell Ross. They added another touchdown on Clarett's 2-yard run with 2:43 left in the half, giving them a 14-9 lead.

In the second half Clarett picked up 35 yards during an 11-play, 79-yard drive and finished it with a 20-yard TD run up the middle, diving into the end zone for a 24-9 lead.

IOWA 31, PURDUE 28: Brad Banks threw a touchdown to Dallas Clark on fourth and goal with 1:07 left for the host Hawkeyes, who trailed 28-24 with five minutes left.

On the winning drive, Banks led the Hawkeyes 87 yards in eight plays with no timeouts after Purdue rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit.

Banks started the drive with a 44-yard run, then completed two passes before finding Clark alone in the corner of the end zone.

Banks threw a 95-yard touchdown to Clark in the third quarter, one of several big plays the Hawkeyes needed to overcome a 14-10 halftime deficit. Iowa's Sean Considine blocked Brent Slaton's punt and recovered the ball in the end zone for a 17-14 lead.

Purdue's fourth-quarter comeback was led by backup freshman quarterback Brandon Kirsch, who replaced injured Kyle Orton midway through the third quarter with the Boilermakers trailing 24-14. Orton left with a minor head injury.

On Purdue's final possession, Kirsch, who threw for 163 yards and scored on a 16-yard run, marched the Boilermakers to the Iowa 25 before one of his passes was deflected and intercepted by Adolphus Shelton.

"He did a good job going in, he did everything we could ask of him," Purdue coach Joe Tiller said of Kirsch. "The only comment I have about it is that he deserved better than that."

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