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PENN STATE FOOTBALL Paterno not concerned about spring game call



Published: Wed, April 30, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



A fumble was ruled a touchdown as the Blue team won, 23-7.

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Let's see if Penn State coach Joe Paterno complains about this call.

Michael Robinson scored for the White team on a controversial 1-yard touchdown run, scooting left on a bootleg for the first touchdown in Saturday's Blue-White scrimmage, which the Blue team won 23-7.

Robinson was hit at the goal line, and safety Calvin Lowry scooped up the ball and returned it 98 yards untouched to the Blue end zone. The officials signaled a touchdown, but replays appeared to show that Robinson fumbled before he got to the goal line.

"Of course I crossed it -- did you see the ref put his hands up? Of course the defense is going to say they stopped me," Robinson said.

It was the first of two touchdowns for Robinson, who is challenging Zack Mills for the starting spot. That is, if it was a touchdown at all.

"That wasn't a touchdown. That was my touchdown," Lowry said. "The coaches even said it, but it's all fun and games."

Upset last season

It's the kind of play that might have set Paterno off last year, when controversial calls went against the Nittany Lions in losses to Iowa, Michigan and Ohio State.

But now Paterno is more concerned about evaluating talent for the coming year. After seeing four Nittany Lions chosen in the first round of the NFL draft Saturday, Penn State has big holes to fill at tailback, wide receiver and on the defensive line.

Even at quarterback, where Mills returns in the starting spot and Robinson has substantial experience, Paterno is still evaluating the position.

"Zack has been in games winning for us, and Zack is an outstanding quarterback. Michael's got to beat him out," Paterno said before the game. "But Michael has closed the gap -- I'll say that for him -- because he's had an outstanding spring."

Robinson started the game on the White team, but switched to the Blue at the end of the second quarter for practice on the 2-minute drill. With 1:42 remaining, Robinson led an 8-play, 51-yard drive, lofting the ball to Kinta Palmer in the corner of the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown, giving the Blue team a 17-7 halftime lead.

Quarterbacks coach Jay Paterno "wanted to get him in that two-minute situation, because he hasn't been in that many, hadn't been in any in game situations," Mills said. "And he did well, he did real well. He took the ball down and scored a touchdown.

Showdown short lived

The anticipated showdown between Mills and Robinson didn't last long. Mills didn't play after throwing a 57-yard touchdown pass to Palmer for a 10-7 Blue lead with 1:34 remaining in the first quarter. He finished with 105 passing yards, completing 5-of-9 with one interception

Robinson played the first White possession of the second quarter, subbed in for Blue at the end of the quarter, and played one possession in for White in the third quarter. He passed for 141 yards, completing 12-of-20 with one interception.

Robbie Gould kicked a 49-yard field goal to give Blue a 3-0 lead on the game's first possession.

Nolan McCready scored the game's final touchdown, intercepting a Greg Hennigar pass and returning it 60 yards with 3:49 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Palmer finished with five catches -- two of them for touchdowns -- and 90 yards.




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