STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Daryll Clark threw for 353 yards and three touchdowns, and No. 9 Penn State celebrated coach Joe Paterno's return to the sideline with a 31-7 win Saturday over Akron in the season opener.
A tenacious defense overwhelmed the Zips' spread attack, holding Akron to 186 yards of total offense. Akron didn't record a first down until the third quarter, with Penn State leading by 31.
The Nittany Lions scored on their opening drive on a 5 yard run by Evan Royster and never looked back. Graham Zug 's leaping 19-yard touchdown catch gave Penn State a 31-point cushion just before halftime. Clark threw for 254 yards in the first half alone, a school record.
It was a happy return for Paterno in his first game on the sideline since hip replacement surgery last November. He jogged out of the tunnel with his team and paced the sideline in his trademark khakis and black sneakers.
This marks his 60th season at Penn State - 16 as an assistant and the next 44 as the man in charge - and he walked off the field with his 384th victory, now two ahead of Florida State's Bobby Bowden. The Seminoles play Monday night.
There was much for Paterno to smile about on a warm, sunny afternoon at Beaver Stadium.
Royster's TD with 6:15 in the first quarter capped a seven-play, 84-yard drive for a 7-0 lead to get the blue-and-white party started
Akron's next series typified the Zips' frustrating afternoon.
Defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu stuffed Norman Shuford for a three-yard loss. Akron went with a no-huddle attack, but defensive end Jack Crawford took down Alex Allen on an outside run for a four-yard loss. Quarterback Chris Jacquemain threw incomplete on third down, his pass in the flat sailing high over the head of Shuford, who was smothered by linebacker Sean Lee .
Akron went three-and-out on drives the rest of the first half, held to a paltry eight yards and minus-17 rushing.
Penn State played most of the game without linebacker Navorro Bowman , the leading returning tackler who apparently was bothered by a sore right groin.
On offense, the Nittany Lions played pitch-and-catch all afternoon. The Zips were the perfect opponent for a Penn State offense breaking in a new receiving corps and three new starters on the offensive line.
Chaz Powell caught an eight-yard score in the first quarter before Clark connected with Derek Moye and Zug for touchdown catches 1:03 apart late in the second to give the Nittany Lions a 31-0 lead.
By that time, a handful of bored fans in the student section started body-surfing in the stands.
Clark finished 29 for 40 passing with one interception, while Jacquemain was 13 for-22 passing for 158 yards, one interception and a 40-yard touchdown to Deryn Bowser in the third quarter for Akron's only score.
Penn State was held scoreless after halftime, but the second half was a mere formality.