"In key situations, I try to step up to the occasion," said Powell, whose return went for 92 yards. "I got the opportunity to get the ball in my hands, and I was trying to make a play, and I did."
Unfortunately for Powell, he flipped the ball up in the air instead of handing it to the official, and was flagged for an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. Penn State managed just a field goal out of it.
Powell took responsibility for the error.
"That's the rule," he said. "It happens. You've just got to learn from your mistakes. I've got to be smart next time and hand it off."
Purdue had a 71-yard kickoff return by Raheem Mostert that set up a touchdown.
A fine fill-in
Filling in for Derek Moye, the Lions' top receiver, sophomore Brandon Moseby-Felder made an impact early by catching two passes for 40 yards from Rob Bolden on his team's first touchdown drive.
"With Moye being out, he's like a brother to me," Moseby-Felder said. "It hurt me a little bit. But at the same time, it was time for me to step up and make the plays for my team."
Moseby-Felder's second catch was a beauty, a 19-yard strike from Bolden between two defenders to the Purdue 1. Curtis Dukes scored on the next play.
"He did a great job," Bolden said. "He's a great player. He's going to continue to improve and help this offense out."
Penn State scored on five of six trips inside the red zone. The only time it did not came as Matt McGloin was taking a knee to run out the clock at the end of the game. . . . The Nittany Lions' three interceptions increased their season turnover total to 17. That matches the number grabbed by the Lions during the entire 2010 season. . . . Silas Redd's 131-yard rushing game was his third in a row, and fourth of the season. . . . Regarding previously injured players, the Lions welcomed back cornerbacks D'Anton Lynn and Stephfon Morris to the lineup, but tailback Brandon Beachum and wide receiver Curtis Drake, who both suited up, did not play.
Inquirer staff writer Jake Kaplan contributed to this article.