AP Sports Writer
Toledo tailback Chester Taylor races into the end zone for a touchdown
in the first quarter against Penn State on Sept. 2, 2000.
Toledo's Greg Grothous (85) pursues the play.|
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Toledo is tired of hearing questions about its conference. Now people may stop asking.
Chester Taylor ran for 141 yards, including two touchdowns, and Tavares Bolden threw for 140 yards and one touchdown as Toledo beat Penn State 24-6
Penn State, which had never lost to a Mid-American Conference opponent, fell to 0-2 for the first time since 1990.
"It's the biggest win of my career," said Toledo coach Gary Pinkel, who improved to 3-3 against the Big Ten. "It's great for the conference. It's great for the
University of Toledo."
Toledo (1-0) hadn't beaten a top opponent since opening the 1997 season with a 36-22 victory over Purdue.
"What better place for the Rockets to show we can play than here. They're Penn State," said defensive end Leo Frierson.
Taylor had touchdown runs of 13 and 1 yards as Toledo took a 17-0 halftime lead. The Rockets made it 24-0 on a 13-yard pass from Bolden to Lyle Green on
the first possession of the third quarter.
Toledo quarterback Tavares Bolden (1) gets a block from teammate Michael Schaefer, rear, on
Penn State defender Tyler Valoczki to gain
short yardage in the second quarter.|
"It's the biggest win so far, but a bigger win is a Bowl game," Taylor said. "That'll be the next big win. We proved we can play with anybody as long as we play
Penn State has lost five consecutive regular-season games for the first time since dropping seven straight in 1931.
The Nittany Lions entered the season with questions marks on defense after losing nine starters, including Courtney Brown and LaVar Arrington, the top two picks in the NFL draft.
But the Nittany Lions, who lost 29-5 to No. 12 Southern California in the Kickoff Classic last Sunday, may miss Kevin Thompson and Chafie Fields more.
Penn State's offense hasn't been able to produce, and went six quarters without a touchdown.
After gaining just 142 yards, including 6 rushing, against Southern Cal, Penn State had 166 yards against Toledo - 64 in the first half.
"I think we need to take a realistic look at whether we are any good," Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. "We have not played a decent offensive football game
in two weeks."
Thompson, who threw for 1,916 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, made the Cleveland Browns' roster as a third-stringer. Fields, a flanker who accounted for
830 total yards in 1999, was among the final cuts for the San Francisco 49ers.
With Rashard Casey starting his third career game - he led Penn State to a 24-0 victory over Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl last season - the Nittany Lions went
three-and-out on their first two possessions.
Taylor's 13-yard run gave Toledo a 7-0 lead with 10:12 left in the first. A 24-yard field goal by Todd France made it 10-0 with 3:06 remaining in the first.
"They're a top-notch team. They're physical," guard Jim Harding said. "Our first drive helped us a lot. The defense got us good field position. It really set the
Penn State didn't get a first down until Casey scrambled for five yards on a third-and-1 with 1:35 left in the first.
The play drew mock applause from the crowd of 94,296 at Beaver Stadium. The fans booed loudly when Penn State receivers dropped three straight passes
before settling for a field goal attempt in the second quarter.
"Well if you can't run the football, you have to throw it," Paterno said. "And if you can't catch it when you throw it, you have some problems."
The Rockets made it 17-0 when Taylor ran in from the 1 with 32 seconds left in the half. The touchdown capped a 14-play, 83-yard drive that consumed 6:07.
"It was crucial for us to go in with a score," Harding said. "We knew they would make adjustments."
Penn State finally scored its first touchdown as Casey improvised a 61-yard pass to Larry Johnson that cut it to 24-6 with 7:27 left in the third. Ryan Primanti
missed the extra point.
Casey scrambled right, stopped just before running out of bounds, jumped and threw across his body and over several defenders to Johnson, who ran untouched
to the end zone.
Casey was 5-of-13 for 98 yards. He was replaced by Matt Senneca in the fourth quarter for the second straight week.
The Nittany Lions moved inside Toledo territory for the first time in the second quarter, but the drive stalled at the 29 and David Kimball hooked a 46-yarder - his
first field-goal attempt.
Penn State, which fell out of the Top 25 for the first time in eight years after the loss to USC, hadn't lost a home opener since Texas beat them 17-13 in 1990.
Paterno remains seven victories shy of breaking Bear Bryant's Division I-A record of 323.