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Updated: Sunday, November 17, 2002 12:45 AM EST
NCAA FOOTBALL RECAP
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(16) Penn St 58, Indiana 25
PENN ST. NITTANY LIONS
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BLOOMINGTON, Indiana (Ticker) -- Larry Johnson became the single-season rushing king at Penn State with a Heisman-type performance.

Johnson eclipsed his own school record with 327 yards on 28 carries and surpassed Lydell Mitchell's single-season school rushing record as the 16th-ranked Nittany Lions rolled to a 58-25 rout of Indiana in a Big Ten Conference game.

The 6-2, 222-pound senior started the day behind Mitchell, Ki-Jana Carter, John Cappelletti and Blair Thomas on the single-season list and ended it on top with 1,736 yards. He needed 159 yards to break Mitchell's record of 1,567 yards set in 1971.

"I can't picture myself on a list like that with those names," Johnson said. "It's a real honor to follow the running backs at this school and to have success."

Mitchell, Cappelletti, Thomas, Franco Harris, Curt Warner, Ki-Jana Carter, Curtis Enis and D.J. Dozier are among the pantheon of great backs that Joe Paterno has coached at Penn State (8-3, 4-3 Big Ten). Yet none of those players rushed for more than 300 yards in a game and now the single-season record belongs to Johnson.

"He is just a big, strong kid who loves to run the football," Paterno said. "I see him every day and he hasn't stopped surprising me. He's strong and he's got great speed."

A somewhat overlooked player in the Heisman Trophy race despite leading the nation in all-purpose yardage and ranking third in rushing, Johnson also had a career-high four touchdowns, including runs of 69, 43 and 41 yards.

"I can't tell you who the best player in America is, but they've got to consider Larry Johnson," Paterno said. "Whether he's going to get it or someone else is going to get it, I don't know but I think certainly everybody better take a good look at him."

The 327 yards also set a Memorial Stadium record for yards rushing by an opponent, breaking the mark of 286 set by Lorenzo White of Michigan State in 1985.

LaDainian Tomlinson holds the NCAA single-game rushing record with 406 yards for Texas Christian against Texas El Paso in 1999. Central Michigan's Robbie Mixon rushed for 377 yards against Eastern Michigan earlier this year.

Using his power to bounce off tacklers, Johnson averaged 11.7 yards per carry and personally outgained Indiana, which totaled 275 yards. Along with the long touchdowns, Johnson also broke free for runs of 25, 21 and 41 yards.

"He has to be one of the better backs I have ever seen," said Indiana coach Gerry DiNardo. "He's in that group with Rudi Johnson at Auburn and Cecil Collins and Kevin Faulk (at Louisiana State). I think he's in that group. How you rate them one through 10 I don't know, but I think he's up there."

Johnson rushed for 100 yards on 11 carries in the first quarter alone, capping it with a 69-yard TD with eight seconds left. He scored on a 43-yard run with 7:43 remaining in the half and passed Mitchell with a 25-yard run less than a minute later following an Indiana turnover.

Despite Johnson's heroics, Penn State had just a 28-18 lead at the half.

With his first carry of the second half, Johnson surpassed 200 yards in a game for the third time this season, tying a school record set by Cappelletti in 1973 en route to winning the Heisman Trophy.

Johnson scored on a one-yard run and Robbie Gould kicked a 28-yard field goal in the third quarter to increase the advantage to 38-18.

After freshman Yamar Washington scored on a six-yard run for Indiana 27 seconds into the fourth quarter, Johnson broke off a 41-yard touchdown run.

Indiana (3-8, 1-6) never has beaten Penn State, going 0-8 against the Nittany Lions since the schools became Big Ten rivals in 1993.

Twice in a span of 15 days, Johnson broke the school record for rushing yardage in a game, accumulating 279 yards in a November 2 win over Illinois and 257 yards in an October 19 victory against Northwestern. Over his last five games, Johnson has rushed for 1,117 yards.

"The numbers are there and he's coming on strong," Paterno said of Johnson. "He's doing everything you would want a good football player to do."

When he wasn't admiring Johnson's running, Zack Mills threw for 137 yards and two touchdowns for Penn State, which won its third straight and closes the season next week against Michigan State.

Mills' first TD pass was a two-yarder to tight end Mike Lukac with 7:12 left in the first quarter.

But on Penn State's next possession, defensive lineman Kris Dielman deflected a pass by Mills and freshman safety Buster Larkins picked it off and returned it 59 yards for a touchdown with 4:43 remaining in the quarter.

Indiana's defense came up with another big play when linebacker John Kerr intercepted Mills again deep in Penn State territory to set up a six-yard touchdown pass from Tommy Jones to Courtney Roby with 27 seconds left in the quarter. A missed extra point and a failed two-point conversion after the touchdowns left Indiana with a 12-7 lead.

Following the ensuing kickoff, Johnson busted through the middle, broke two tackles and sprinted to the end zone for a 69-yard score, giving Penn State a 14-12 lead.

Indiana followed with an 18-play, 80-yard drive which resulted in a one-yard scoring pass from Jones to tight end Stephen Anthony. Another failed two-point conversion left Indiana with an 18-12 advantage

The next time Johnson touched the ball, he raced 43 yards for a score, giving the lead back to Penn State, 21-18, with 7:43 left in the half.

On the next series, Johnson broke Mitchell's record with a 25-yard run. Mills capped the drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Casey Williams with 4:57 remaining.

Johnson's one-yard touchdown in the third quarter capped a seven-play, 80-yard drive.

Cornerback Rich Gardner scored on a 35-yard interception return and Mike Gasparato, who replaced Johnson, added a three-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to complete the rout.


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