Joe Paterno didn’t care much for the way the game ended. He liked the beginning even less.
Quarterback Major Harris turned a broken play into an early 27-yard touchdown run and threw 2 long scoring passes later in the 1st half Saturday, leading 7th-ranked West Virginia to a 51-30 rout of Penn State.
The game was halted with 49 seconds left when delirious West Virginia fans engulfed the field and tore down 1 goalpost.
“I think the West Virginia officials ought to control the behavior better than that,” Paterno said. “Kids all around you calling you names . . . I just thought it was a stupid end to a football game.”
Four years ago, when West Virginia beat Penn State for the 1st time in 29 years, 17-14, the game also ended prematurely when fans flooded the field after a West Virginia interception with 38 seconds left.
This time it was over at halftime when the Mountaineers (8-0) built a 41-8 lead. It’s the 1st time in their 97-year history that they’ve captured their 1st 8 games.
“It was probably the best we’ve ever played since I’ve been here,” West Virginia Coach Don Nehlen said. “We did some things I couldn’t believe.”
The Mountaineers scored on 7 of 8 1st-half possessions--5 touchdowns and 2 field goals--and outgained Penn State, 421 yards to 140.
The 51 points were the most ever scored against a Paterno team--UCLA beat Penn State, 49-11, in 1966--and the setback saddled him with a 3-game losing streak for only the 3rd time in 23 years as Penn State’s head coach.
The losing streak matches the longest of Paterno’s career and the Nittany Lions’ 4-4 record is the 1st time they haven’t been over .500 this late in the season since 1966, Paterno’s 1st year, when they also were 4-4 en route to a 5-5 finish.
“We just got licked,” Paterno said. “We wanted to try to stop them from scoring points, and obviously we didn’t. They played awfully well.”
Nehlen was just happy to see Saturday’s game end.
“It was the longest game,” he said. “It must have lasted 10 hours. When we win, we never get to finish. The end was a shame.”
Harris had touchdown pass plays of 40 yards to flanker Reggie Rembert and 49 to split end Calvin Phillips for West Virginia’s 2nd and 3rd touchdowns, which were sandwiched around Charlie Baumann’s 24-yard field goal.
“Major made plays I can’t believe,” Nehlen said. “I don’t know how far he throws the ball, but it looks like he throws it from here to Pittsburgh.”
The sophomore quarterback also set up fullback Craig Taylor’s 2-yard touchdown run with a 41-yard pass to Phillips and lobbed a screen pass to Undra Johnson for 17 yards, 2 plays before the first of Baumann’s 3 field goals.
Johnson made it 41-8 by running 55 yards for a touchdown with 3 seconds left in the half when the Mountaineers were just trying to run out the clock.
Harris finished with 12 completions in 20 passes for 230 yards and carried 10 times for 36 yards. Freshman Tony Sacca, who was the quarterback for Penn State most of the way, was only 5 of 19 for 64 yards, with 2 interceptions.