Rout doesn't bring smiles to Happy Valley Penn State rips E. Michigan, 52-7


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Happy Valley was a misnomer for this scenic setting yesterday after Penn State pounded overmatched Eastern Michigan, 52-7.

The line of long faces formed to the right:

There was quarterback John Sacca, who threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to flanker O. J. McDuffie in the third quarter, only to find an irate Joe Paterno waiting for him on the Nittany Lions' sideline seconds later.

There was tailback Richie Anderson, who rushed for two touchdowns, but admitted he doesn't like to play in games like this.

There was McDuffie, who caught two touchdown passes, but was upset that he didn't score on two long punt returns.

And we haven't even gotten to Eastern Michigan coach Jim Harkema, who watched his team fall behind 28-0 before it got a first down.

"It's like playing Jack Nicklaus and you hit the first five tee shots out of bounds," Harkema said. "You say, 'Hey, can we go home now?' "

Not before 10th-ranked Penn State (3-0) feasted on another September patsy, satiating the appetite of 94,578 at Beaver Stadium on a sun-splashed afternoon.

The Lions have won their last two games by a combined score of 101-15, but the competitive pace figures to pick up next Saturday when Maryland brings its run-and-shoot attack north.

"I hope so," said McDuffie. "The game today went on forever."

The Lions -- with Sacca starting at quarterback -- made short work of the winless Eagles (0-3) from the Mid-American Conference. Penn State scored touchdowns on its first three offensive series and picked up a defensive touchdown when cornerback Shelly Hammonds raced 32 yards untouched with an interception. It was 28-0 and the game wasn't 11 minutes old.

Sacca hadn't played since Penn State's season-opening, 24-20 victory over Cincinnati, when he severely bruised his right collarbone. After a week of guessing games, Paterno decided to start Sacca, a redshirt junior, ahead of freshman Wally Richardson, who started last week's 49-8 rout of Temple.

"I thought it was better for the team at this stage," Paterno said. "it was a tough decision."

Sacca made it the right decision. He completed 10 of 17 passes for 153 yards and a pair of touchdown passes to McDuffie. But after he hit McDuffie for a long scoring strike in the third quarter, he drew the wrath of Paterno coming off the field.

"He said O. J. was open on the play before the touchdown," Sacca said. "He was disgusted with the play before."

Sacca's five series at quarterback produced four touchdowns and one missed field goal. Richardson gained experience (6-for-13 for 84 yards) in a backup role.

Anderson, from Sandy Spring, Md., rushed for 65 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 5 and 21 yards, but was non-plused by his performance.

"You really don't like being in games like this," he said. "It doesn't get you in a tough game mode."

McDuffie set up Penn State touchdowns with punt returns of 31 and 28 yards in addition to catching four passes for 79 yards. But he was dissatisfied that he had been tackled on one return by Eastern Michigan's punter.

"If I can't make the kicker miss," said McDuffie, "I don't deserve to be back there. I should have broken the first and third punt returns."

8, It was that kind of day in Happy Valley.

Presidential edge

President Bush lives about a half-hour away from Byrd Stadium, but he has never visited a Maryland football practice. This week he'll travel all the way to University Park, Pa., however, to drop in on Penn State coach Joe Paterno as he prepares for next Saturday's game against Maryland.

"He's a friend of mine," said Paterno, who seconded Bush's nomination at the 1988 Republican National Convention. "I don't think I'm too busy to take time off when the president of the United States comes to town."

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