UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- So many times this year, Penn State has been left to complain, harmlessly, that it left points on the board. This time, at the most crucial point of the game, it left nothing to chance.
With under three minutes left in the game, the ball on the Northwestern five, third down and a deficit of three points, Matt McGloin scrambled to the outside for the winning score in Penn State's 39-28 victory against Northwestern at Beaver Stadium on Saturday.
Trailing 14-10 at halftime, Penn State retook the lead midway through the third quarter when wide receiver Allen Robinson caught an eight yard touchdown pass.
Northwestern fired back on its drive. After catching a pass weaved in between multiple defenders, multi-threat Kain Colter scored on a 10-yard touchdown run.
Penn State's next drive stalled, and the Nittany Lions had to punt to running back Venric Mark. After a 54-yard Alex Butterworth punt, Mark broke free to the outside and ran the punt 75 yards for a touchdown and a 28-17 lead.
In the last three weeks, several players, along with coach Bill O'Brien have noted the team's inability to capitalize on scoring situations, needed turnovers, etc. None of it hurt Penn State against weaker opponents, but Northwestern comes into this game with a 5-0 record. The little misses matter.
In the first half, Penn State missed out on a touchdown when Kyle Carter dropped a would-be touchdown pass. Sam Ficken made a field goal on that possession.
Penn State also missed out on at least four interceptions in the first half. Either by tipped pass or with an opponent nearly there, Penn State hasn't quite been able to convert the turnover.
Northwestern did. In the second quarter, Jesse Della Valle dropped the ball on a punt return, and Northwestern's Nick VanHoose recovered inside the 20, setting up a two-yard touchdown run.
That cut Penn State's lead to 10-7. The Nittany Lions had scored earlier, first on a Ficken field goal in the first quarter and then on a one-yard Zach Zwinak touchdown run with 9:34 left in the second quarter.
Northwestern added its second touchdown in the final minute of the half. Shortly after a controversial pass interference call against Penn State, Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Tony Jones.
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Mark Dent: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter@mdent05 First Published October 6, 2012 5:45 PM