Mills leads Nittany Lions over Badgers

Jim Martinho

Zack Mills rebounded from a sprained shoulder to pass for 287 yards as the No. 20 Nittany Lions bounced back from last week’s loss to Iowa to beat No. 19 Wisconsin, 34-31.

Mills, who set a school record with 686 passing yards in his last two games, picked up fullback Paul Jefferson’s fumble and tumbled into the endzone for Penn State’s first touchdown. Larry Johnson rushed 14 times for 111 yards and a touchdown to help spoil the Badgers’ Big Ten opener.

Johnson’s 24-yard score and subsequent two-point-conversion catch staked the Nittany Lions to a 21-14 halftime lead they would never relinquish.

Mills landed awkwardly on his left (throwing) shoulder in the first quarter, but examinations assuaged fears that it was separated.

Robbie Gould kicked three field goals for Penn State (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten), including a career-long 51-yarder in the third quarter.

Wisconsin trailed 28-23 in the third and took over at the Penn State 47, its best field position of the game. But the drive stalled after consecutive dropped passes by sophomore Darren Charles and freshman Jonathan Orr.

Wisconsin (5-1, 0-1) was again without standout wide receiver Lee Evans, who practiced on Tuesday and Thursday and was a gameday decision. Evans, the Big Ten’s leading receiver in 2001, suffered a knee injury in the Badgers’ spring game April 20.

“I’d be lying if I said a lot of people didn’t have one eye on it or crammed into the back of their head,” quarterback Brooks Bollinger said. “But you can’t throw a kid out to the wolves with one leg. He’ll know when he’s healthy and that will be a happy day.”

Iowa 31, Purdue 28: No. 24 Iowa (4-1, 2-0) needed two special-teams touchdowns and an 87-yard scoring drive in the final minutes to overcome Purdue’s 509 yards of offense in a 31-28 win.

The Hawkeyes, ranked in the top 25 for the first time since 1997, placed their faith in quarterback Brad Banks for the second week in a row. Banks, who earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors after engineering an upset of Penn State last week, found Dallas Clark in the endzone on 4th-and-goal with 1:07 remaining to seal the victory.

“He just called the play. … I think everyone just kind of knew the situation,” Clark said. “Everyone just knew what they had to do and they went out and did their part. It was great the way it turned out.”

Purdue (3-3, 1-1) outplayed Iowa for most of the game behind quarterbacks Kyle Orton and Brandon Kirsch. Orton passed for 247 yards and a score before leaving with a mild concussion midway through the third quarter.

Kirsch helped Purdue rally back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit by scoring on a 16-yard run and setting up a one-yard Jon Goldsberry run on their next possession to lead 28-24.

Iowa’s special teams made up for a mediocre offensive performance and nine penalties for 80 yards. Trailing 14-3 in the second quarter, Antwan Allen picked up a blocked field goal and ran 85 yards for the touchdown. Later in the quarter, Jermire Roberts recovered a blocked punt in the endzone to give the Hawkeyes their first lead.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.