Share this article

print logo


Two teams in the Mid-American Conference had contrasting games with a couple of highly ranked teams Saturday.

Akron, the University at Buffalo's opponent in the season opener this Saturday, was hammered by No. 2 Penn State, 70-24, while fourth-ranked Florida got a scare before finally pulling away from Western Michigan, 55-26.

Penn State's victory turned into milestone Saturday for the Nittany Lions.

Rashard Casey got his first college touchdowns, one rushing and one passing. John Gilmore, Eddie Drummond and Bryant Johnson each caught their first TDs at Penn State. Mick Blosser ran for his first score and Askari Adams returned an interception for his first TD.

"It feels good to get them out of the way," Casey said of his first TDs. "I hope more will come -- and soon."

The Lions (2-0) scored 70 points for the first time since beating Maryland, 70-7, in 1993. Akron (0-1), a 45-point underdog, remained winless in 10 games against Top 25 teams since joining Division I-A in 1987.

Mike Cerimele added two TDs, while Eric McCoo and Omar Easy had one apiece as Penn State outgained the Zips 553 yards to 281.

But Akron didn't roll over right away, scoring 10 points in the second quarter to pull within four.

"I think we were a little nonchalant today," said Penn State linebacker LaVar Arrington, who had just one tackle. "I don't think we had a real big letdown, but it took them punching us in the face a couple of times for us to wake up and start playing a little bit."

Wake up Penn State did, picking off two Akron passes and scoring three times in seven minutes to lead, 35-10.

Kenny Watson returned a kickoff 53 yards and McCoo gained 25 yards on two shifty runs to set up Cerimele's second score, a 3-yarder. On the next series, linebacker Maurice Daniels intercepted Greg Gromek's pass and returned it to the Akron 10. Casey found Gilmore for the 10-yard TD three plays later.

Gromek had another pass picked off two series later, this time by Askari Adams, who slid up the right sideline 59 yards for the TD.

No. 4 Florida had as many things to worry over as to be happy about Saturday night.

Doug Johnson threw for four touchdowns and Earnest Graham ran for 158 yards, but Western Michigan quarterback Tim Lester had as big an impact on the game as anyone.

Lester finished with 405 yards passing -- 314 in the first half -- against a Florida defense that didn't have a starter remaining from the lineup that opened last season.

Florida coach Steve Spurrier improved to 10-0 in openers with the Gators, although this one stayed competitive for much longer than anyone thought it would. Western Michigan trailed by only 31-26 in the third quarter before Florida pulled away.

In other games involving MAC teams:

Travis Prentice ran for two scores to move into third place on the NCAA career rushing touchdown list and Mike Bath threw two second-half TD passes to Sly Johnson as Miami of Ohio (1-0) routed Northwestern (0-1), 28-3, ruining Randy Walker's debut as coach of the Wildcats.

Most of Miami's players were Walker recruits. He coached at Miami for nine years, compiling a 59-35-5 record before moving to Northwestern last January to replace Gary Barnett, who went to Colorado.

Doug Chapman scored on a 7-yard run with 1:10 to play to give Marshall (1-0) a 13-10 victory over Clemson (0-1).

Billy Cockerham threw a career-long 89-yard touchdown pass and scored on a 35-yard bootleg as Minnesota (1-0) opened a season of high expectations with a 33-7 rout of Ohio (0-1).

Backup quarterback John Turman took over early in the second quarter to throw for a touchdown, run for another and set up two scores with his passing as Pittsburgh (1-0) beat Bowling Green (0-1), 30-10.

The Big Ten freshman of the year in 1998, Antwaan Randle El passed for 154 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 118 yards and a TD as Indiana (1-0) started the season with a 21-9 victory over Ball State (0-1).

Around the nation

Brandon Tinson returned a fumble 66 yards with 33 seconds remaining, giving Colgate (1-0) a stunning and controversial 28-21 victory over Maine (0-1). Tinson picked up a loose ball that game officials ruled was a fumble by wide receiver Dwayne Wilmot, even though Wilmot appeared to never have had possession. . . . David Garrard scored on a 1-yard sneak with 56 seconds left, lifting East Carolina (1-0) to a 30-23 victory over sloppy West Virginia (0-1). Garrard's score capped a game in which East Carolina rolled up 496 total yards against a team that returned eight starters on defense from last year. . . . Kyle Atteberry missed an extra point in overtime and Boston College (1-0), behind Cedric Washington's 177 yards rushing and three touchdowns, beat Baylor (0-1), 30-29.

There are no comments - be the first to comment