The junior QB threw for three scores and 206 yards to key a 34-16 win.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- On his first pass as Penn State's starting quarterback, Anthony Morelli showed coach Joe Paterno that his offense was in good hands.
The throw sailed through raindrops and over two defenders into the end zone. Morelli pumped his fist after wideout Deon Butler came down with a 42-yard touchdown pass to give Penn State a 7-0 lead.
The strong-armed junior threw for two more scores and 206 yards, as No. 19 Penn State showed some different wrinkles on defense to defeat Akron, 34-16, at rain-soaked Beaver Stadium.
Morelli, replacing last year's do-it-all leader, Michael Robinson, did make a few mistakes, including a third-quarter fumble. With a trip looming next week to No. 2 Notre Dame, Paterno offered cautious praise.
"I thought he started out well, did a good job, but overall he was fine," said Paterno.
Akron coach J.D. Brookhart was a little more gracious.
"That kid can throw from one half to the other, 20 yards deep," Brookhart said. "You won't see a better arm this year."
Morelli also connected for TD passes with Jordan Norwood and Derrick Williams for Penn State (1-0), delighting fans bundled up in rain slickers after the remnants of Tropical Storm Ernesto drenched Happy Valley.
The running game struggled, and Tony Hunt, who ran for 1,000 yards last season, gained just 36, though Hunt did have a late touchdown.
"I think they got their [butts] kicked in today," Paterno said about the offensive line "Simple as that."
But given time to throw, Morelli clicked with his talented receiving corps.
"He just kept a level head today," said Butler, who had two catches for 50 yards. "He never got nervous or mad when he came back to the huddle."
Zips bounce back
Trailing 17-3 at halftime, the Zips (0-1) gained some momentum after Penn State freshman A.J. Wallace fumbled the second-half kickoff at midfield.
Luke Getsy kept the ensuing drive alive by hitting Kris Kasparek for a 12-yard gain on fourth-and-7 from the Penn State 16. On the next play, Dennis Kennedy bowled over Justin King to get into the end zone for a 4-yard score -- but Matt Domonkos missed an extra point -- and Akron cut the deficit to 17-9.
Getsy finished 22-for-42 for 160 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions, while Kennedy ran for 59 yards on 25 carries.
"We made too many mistakes to have a chance to win that football game," Brookhart said.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.