Northwestern’s bid for an undefeated season ended Saturday at the hands of Penn State as the Nittany Lions erased a 28-17 deficit in the 3rd quarter en route to a 39-28 victory at home.
Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin led the way as he passed for 282 yards and two passing touchdowns and ran for the go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats who came into the game with one of the better rushing offenses in the conference were stymied by a relatively strong Penn State defense. Northwestern was held to 245 yards of total offense after accumulating 704 yards last Saturday against Indiana.
Kain Colter and Venric Mark did what they could to keep the Wildcats in this game after Northwestern trailed 10-0. After being forced to punt again in the second quarter, Penn State punt returner Jesse Della Valle muffed the punt on the 17-yard line to give the Wildcats new life.
Mark later scored on a two-yard touchdown run as Northwestern trailed 10-7. Trevor Siemian led the Wildcats on another scoring drive before halftime and threw his second touchdown pass of the season to Tony Jones with :30 remaining in the first half.
Northwestern led 28-17 in the third quarter after Mark scored on his second punt return touchdown of the season, a 75-yard return. What appeared to be the Wildcats sixth consecutive victory of the season was quickly erased by a Penn State team that converted five fourth downs in the game.
The Nittany Lions attempted just one field goal as kicker Sam Ficken has been horrible this year for Penn State. This meant the team would gamble on fourth down if they were within scoring range and it paid off for them.
Penn State did a great job of running the ball against a Wildcats team that entered the contest only giving up 90 yards on the ground to its opponents. The Nittany Lions rushed for a total of 161 yards led by sophomore running back Zack Zwinak’s 121 rushing yards.
Northwestern will face Minnesota next Saturday in Minneapolis and vie for its sixth win of the season and become bowl-eligible for the fifth consecutive year.
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