Lions fend off Illinois
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- For the first 57 minutes Saturday, Penn State did very little offensively against Illinois.
Then, quarterback Matt McGloin put together a late, 10-play, 80-yard drive, capped by Silas Redd's 3-yard run with 1:08 left, to give the Nittany Lions their first lead.
It was not until the final play, however, when Derek Dimke missed a potential tying, 42-yard field goal which banked off the right upright, that No. 21 Penn State was able to escape with an ugly, 10-7 win against the Illini.
Dimke's first miss of the season helped Penn State (8-1, 5-0 Big Ten) win its seventh consecutive game in front of an estimated crowd of 62,000 on a blustery day at Beaver Stadium.
"To all the fans out there, thank you for sitting through that today," said coach Joe Paterno, who was presented with a special plaque after the game that commemorated his becoming the winningest coach in Division I history with victory No. 409. "You gotta be nuts."
McGloin, who started his second consecutive game, was 4 of 6 passing for 58 yards on the winning drive against Illinois (6-3, 2-3), which suffered its third consecutive loss.
To that point, McGloin was 5 of 18 passing for 40 yards and an interception in the snow. He also was sacked three times.
"It's exciting to win a game like that," McGloin said. "The offense really played bad all day. I don't know if it was the weather or what.
"I would have liked that drive to come a little earlier, but we got it at the end and got the `W' and we're happy with that."
The winning drive was aided by a 15-yard pass-interference penalty against Illinois cornerback Justin Green, who grabbed the arm of wide receiver Derek Moye in the end zone on a fourth-down play from the 32.
Moye, the team's top receiver from Rochester High School, returned to the field late in the third quarter after missing the previous two games with a broken bone in his left foot.
Moye and Justin Brown both had two catches for 29 yards each on the winning drive, and Redd had four carries for 12 yards.
"It felt good to get back out here and good to be part of the winning drive," Moye said.
"I thought Matt did a good job."
Redd finished with 137 yards on a career-high 30 carries as Penn State managed 209 yards total offense.
It was the fifth consecutive 100-yard rushing game for Redd, giving him 1,006 yards this season as the Nittany Lions head into their bye week.
His rushing touchdown on the final drive was his team-leading seventh this year.
"I think we just buckled down," Redd said. "We were a little riled up the whole game. And we put a lot of pressure on ourselves.
"We just took a step back, took a couple deep breaths and rallied."
Penn State's defense forced a season-high four turnovers, and Brad Bars blocked a punt early in the fourth quarter to set up Penn State's first score -- a 30-yard field goal by Anthony Fera.
McGloin was stuffed on a fourth-down play early in the third quarter.
That set up the first touchdown as Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase tossed a 10-yard pass to wide receiver Spencer Harris with 3:32 to go, putting the Illini up. 7-0.
Penn State weakside linebacker Gerald Hodges had a career-high 19 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble against Illinois, which had 286 yards total offense.
Defensive tackles Devon Still and Jordan Hill had 10 tackles each, and Still added a sack.
There were more punts (13) in the first half than completions by the four quarterbacks (10) as Penn State played to its first 0-0 tie at halftime since 1984 against Alabama.
But, for just the second time this year, the offense pulled off a late and winning touchdown drive.
"We needed one of them, just one," strong safety Drew Astorino said. "The offense punched it in when they really needed to."
NOTES -- Penn State athletic director Tim Curley was asked if there had been any discussion about Paterno's future after this year, when his contract expires. "No," Curley said. "We're still focused on finishing out this season. We'll talk about that stuff at the end of the season." ... Penn State quarterback Rob Bolden was 0 of 4 passing with two fumbles, losing one. He was sacked once.
First Published October 30, 2011 12:00 am