Saturday’s result: Penn State 39, Northwestern 28
By Neil Hayes firstname.lastname@example.org October 6, 2012 2:36PM
Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter (2) is tackled by Penn State cornerback Stephon Morris (12) and Penn State linebacker Glenn Carson (40) as he attempts to catch a pass during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Updated: October 6, 2012 5:52PM
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. --- Northwestern was outscored 22-0 in the fourth quarter of a 39-28 loss to Penn State before an announced crowd of 95,769 at Beaver Stadium on Saturday.
It was the first loss in six games for Northwestern (5-1 overall, 1-1 Big Ten) and the fourth straight win for Penn State (4-2, 2-0).
Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin rolled out on third-and-5 and ran into the end zone untouched to give Penn State a four-point lead with 2:37 left in the game. The play capped a 15-play, 85-yard drive for the Nittany Lions and came one year after
Penn State added another late touchdown on Michael Zordich’s three-yard run to pad a final score that didn’t reflect the back-and-forth nature of the tight game.
Penn State had a fourth-and-4 on Northwestern’s 6-yard line and coach Bill O’Brien elected to go for it rather than kick the field goal and cut the Wildcats’ lead to eight. Lions kicker Sam Ficken had made only 3 of 9 field goals on the season but did connect on a 21-yarder earlier in the game.
McGloin responded by hitting a well-covered Allen Robinson in the end zone. Michael Zordich then scored on a 3-yard run on the two-point conversion to pull Penn State to within 28-25 with 9:49 left.
Venric Mark gave the Wildcats an 11-point lead with an electrifying 75-yard punt return with 50 seconds left in the third quarter. It was Mark’s second return for a touchdown this season.
Colter held his fake to Mark until the last possible moment before pulling the ball back and running around left end and dragging tacklers into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown that put the Wildcats up 21-17 with 3:12 left in the third quarter.
It was a huge play from Colter, who had been quiet up to that point. The junior quarterback/receiver caught nine passes for 131 yards in a win over Indiana last week while also rushing for 164 yards and four touchdowns but was contained by a Penn State defense that held him to 24 yards on five carries and three catches for 17 yards.
Penn State went back on top 17-14 on a 12-play, 80-yard drive that was capped by Matt McGloin’s eight-yard touchdown pass to Allen Robinson. An earlier pass interference call on Quinn Evans in the end zone gave the Lions a first-and-goal on the Northwestern 8.
After racking up a school-record 704 yards in last week’s win over Indiana, the Northwestern struggled early against a Penn State defense that has helped the Nittany Lions outscore opponents 52-0 in the first quarter this season. Field position contributed to the Wildcats woes as their first four drives started on the 16,1,21 and 8-yard lines.
Penn State led 10-0 when a muffed punt set Northwestern up on the Lions’ 17-yard line. Three plays later, Mark took and option pitch from Colter and accelerated into the end zone from two yards out to cut the lead to 10-7 with 6:23 left in the half.
Penn State converted on fourth down three times in the first half before being stopped short with 2:20 seconds left in the first half. Northwestern took over and marched 55 yards on seven plays before Siemian found a well-covered Tony Jones in the back of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown that put the ‘Cats up 14-10 at the break.
The touchdown pass was Northwestern’s first since the game-winner against Syracuse in the season opener and broke a streak of 14 consecutive rushing touchdowns.