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PSU-Northwestern highs, lows

October 7, 2012
By Neil Rudel ( , The Altoona Mirror

UNIVERSITY PARK - Following are the highlights and lowlights from Penn State's 39-28 victory over Northwestern on Saturday at Beaver Stadium:

Play of the game: On third-and-goal from the Northwestern 5, trailing 28-25, Matt McGloin scrambled for a 5-yard TD rush, diving into the right corner of the end zone to give Penn State a 32-28 lead with 2:37 remaining in the game.

Offensive player of the game: McGloin completed 35-of-51 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns. He was not intercepted.

Article Photos

Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski
Penn State linebacker Gerald Hodges wraps up Northwestern running back Venric Mark.

Defensive player of the game: Gerald Hodges led Penn State with 11 tackles, including one for loss, and forced a fumble. He also broke up two passes.

Most telling statistic: Thanks to 10 third-down conversions and five more on fourth down, PSU nearly doubled Northwestern in time of possession, 39:17-20:43.

Hidden statistic: The Nittany Lions' 99 offensive plays were 38 more than Northwestern's and tied a PSU single-game record set in a 38-6 win at West Virginia in 1966.

Best run: There were longer ones on the day, but Zach Zwinak's 12-yarder in the second quarter, in which he broke a tackle, spun to elude another and lunged to the NW 1, was impressive.

Best return: Northwestern's Venric Mark brought back a punt 75 yards for a TD late in the third quarter to extend the Wildcats' lead to 28-17.

Best pass: It wasn't gorgeous, but on fourth-and-2 from the NW 19, McGloin hit Brandon Moseby-Felder for 13 yards to the Wildcats' 6, which helped set up the go-ahead score. If McGloin misses there, down 28-25 with three minutes left, the outcome could well have been reversed.

Worst pass: After directing Moseby-Felder into an open space, McGloin badly overshot him in the third quarter.

Best catch: Northwestern's Tony Jones made a leaping snag of a 10-yard touchdown pass that was slightly behind him, giving the Wildcats a 14-10 lead with 30 seconds left in the first half.

Catch it, will ya: Tough day for PSU receivers. Allen Robinson and Moseby-Felder each dropped an early pass, and tight end Kyle Carter dropped two, including what would have been a touchdown. But the most glaring miss came with the Nits up 10-0, seemingly in control, and Jesse Della Valle muffed a punt at the Penn State 17 in the second quarter. The Wildcats' Nick VanHoose recovered, and three plays later, the Wildcats cut the lead to 10-7. One more: Evan Lewis' decision not to catch a late punt cost the Nits 15-plus yards.

Hold it, won't ya: Beyond Della Valle's muff, Hodges had an interception in his hands in the second quarter but dropped it while trying to make a return. McGloin also fumbled but alertly recovered at the NW 5 on the game-winning TD drive.

Best block: Lion right tackle Mike Farrell dove to spring a 12-yard gain (for a first down) by Robinson in the first quarter.

Best tackle: On third-and-1, with the Lions leading 10-7, Hodges broke through to dump Northwestern's Mike Trumpy - son of the former Bengals' tight end - for a 1-yard loss, forcing a punt.

Best hit: Glenn Carson closed quickly and decked Mark after a 4-yard reception in the second quarter, forcing a third-and-1 that NW didn't make.

Best coverage: Derek Day hustled downfield and was good in position to alertly down Alex Butterworth's first punt, a 33-yarder, at the Northwestern 1 - pinning the Wildcats in an early hole.

Best kick: Sam Ficken's second-half kickoff traveled 65 yards, clanked off the crossbar and went through the Northwestern uprights.

Worst kick: Butterworth shanked a 22-yard punt in the second quarter.

Worst penalty: Northwestern cornerback Quinn Evans was hit with a 15-yard personal foul for shoving Bill Belton when the latter was already out of bounds, cost NW 15 yards on the game's first possession.

Best call: Penn State won the toss, didn't defer and took the ball, eager to keep Northwestern's offense off the field. It worked as the Lions won time of possession in the first quarter, 12:00 to 3:00.

Worst call: Probably a copout to shift to the officials, but it sure didn't look like Stephon Morris should have been called for interference in the second quarter. The call gave NW 15 yards on third down and extended a possession that culminated with the Wildcats scoring to take a 14-10 lead.

Best effort: Zwinak, with 173 yards of total offense, gaining 121 on 28 rushes and another 62 via five receptions.

Unsung hero: Let's give a shoutout to PSU quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher on the superior job he's doing with McGloin.

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