Penn State races past No. 24 Northwestern 39-28


Penn State races past No. 24 Northwestern 39-28

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) With his team a little stunned after giving up a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown, Penn State coach Bill O'Brien walked up and down the sideline giving players a pep talk.

After everything they've been through over the past year, these Nittany Lions weren't going to be denied, even after trailing by 11 going into the fourth quarter.

Quarterback Matt McGloin had the go-ahead score on a 5-yard touchdown run with 2:37 left, one of three fourth-quarter scores for Penn State, and the Nittany Lions stormed past No. 24 Northwestern 39-28 on Saturday.

``Our staff and myself, we tried to talk to the players and get them going,'' O'Brien said. ``We felt like we could move the ball.''

And how.

The Nittany Lions (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) scored three times in the final 9:49, starting with McGloin's 6-yard touchdown pass to Allen Robinson on fourth down as the receiver dragged along the back line of the end zone. Michael Zordich had a 2-point conversion run to get Penn State within 28-25 before McGloin's scramble for a score sent the homecoming weekend crowd into a frenzy.

``Nobody's down. There's no quit in that locker room,'' O'Brien said. ``I don't know what's going to happen the rest of the year, but there will be no quit in that locker room.''

The Nittany Lions then stuffed Northwestern's last-gasp drive after Trevor Siemian's pass for Kain Colter was tipped away on fourth down. Zordich added a 3-yard touchdown run with 1:30 left to put a punctuation mark on the wild finish.

Things looked so good for Northwestern (5-1, 1-1) after Venric Mark's 75-yard punt return for a touchdown with 50 seconds left in the third quarter demoralized the blue-and-white faithful for a 28-17 lead.

Mark also ran for a score and finished with 72 yards on 13 carries.

The Wildcats couldn't get to 6-0 for the first time in 50 years. Even worse for Northwestern, the loss continued a disturbing trend of second-half shortfalls against Penn State. The Wildcats also had halftime leads two of the previous three years before falling to the Nittany Lions.

This year, they couldn't hang on to an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter.

``It was tough,'' safety Ibraheim Campbell said about the last 15 minutes. ``We've just got to find a way to make a play. Guys were out there for a while. The offense was out there the same as us. We've just got to find a way to focus in, make a play and get off the field.''

Some of it couldn't be helped given the way Penn State kept going for it on fourth down, including Robinson's second touchdown catch of the game. Penn State was an astounding 5 of 6 on fourth-down conversions on the day.

``I didn't think twice about it,'' O'Brien said. ``You've got to make the touchdown. You've got to make the play.''

Adding to his reputation as a bold play-caller, O'Brien then decided to go for two. Zordich rumbled up the middle to get the Nittany Lions within three.

It's certainly a new era for the Penn State offense if nothing else. Under late head coach Joe Paterno, the Nittany Lions were known more for the running game and playing for field position.

But the defense, with a few tweaks, remains a hallmark in Happy Valley.

After bending in the middle of the game against Northwestern's high-octane spread, Linebacker U. didn't break in the fourth. Dual-threat quarterback Kain Colter found his running lanes filled with swarming defenders, and defensive backs smothered the receivers.

Linebacker Gerald Hodges led the charge with 11 tackles and a forced fumble.

McGloin struggled at times, too, but bounced back in the clutch. McGloin directed blockers in front of him as he rolled right but couldn't find a receiver. So the savvy senior just got into the front corner of the end zone for the touchdown.

McGloin finished 35 of 51 passing - setting a school record for completions in a game - for 282 yards and two scores. Zack Zwinak ran for 121 yards and a score on 28 carries.

A week after dismantling Indiana for 704 yards of total offense, Northwestern hit a speed bump in Happy Valley. The Wildcats were outgained 443-247 in total offense and 30-14 in first downs.

Northwestern was also 4 of 14 on third- and fourth-down plays, while Penn State was 15 of 28.

``That's a recipe for disaster. We're on the field way too long. We're not sustaining drives,'' Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. ``Our recipe is exactly what they did for success. We got beat at our own game.''

Yet they still were in a good spot in the third quarter after Colter had a 10-yard scoring run with 3:12 left before Mark's terrific punt return touchdown about two minutes later for a 28-17 lead.

Colter, who had nearly 300 yards of total offense last week, was held to five carriers for 24 yards and three catches for 17 yards. Robinson finished with nine receptions for 85 yards and two touchdowns.

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 75 Capitals at Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


The Capitals (43-24-7) take on the Canadiens (27-36-12) Saturday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Montreal.


The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals at Canadiens
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime


You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—D-line scoop, Alex Smith's big deal

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—D-line scoop, Alex Smith's big deal

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 24, 33 days before the NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington.

Free agency update: What's next for the Redskins on the D-line? The Redskins have been casting out lines for defensive linemen since before free agency officially started but they haven’t been able to reel one in. Part of the issue might be that they know that Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne are likely to be available in the draft. They have to balance spending big on a lineman vs. being able to get one pretty cheap for the next five years.

Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility—Speaking of the D-line, the team negotiated the removal of a salary guarantee for one player to give themselves more flexibility when it comes time to cut the roster down to 53 in September. See the post for details.

Redskins guarantee Alex Smith a whopping $71 million in new contract—In the words of Joe Biden, this is a big f-----g deal. It showed that the Redskins aren’t afraid to pay a quarterback big money if they think it’s the right guy. It should be noted that whether or not they chose the right guy is something that remains to be seen. Although the post shows that it’s plausible for the Redskins to terminate the deal after three years, I anticipate Smith playing out at least four if not all five years of the contract.

Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign Scandrick—Orlando Scandrick has struggled with injuries the past few years and Redskins fans did not greet the news of his signing with great enthusiasm, to say the least. To point out the bright side, his contract is not pricey by NFL terms ($2.6 million cap hit this year, no guaranteed money beyond a $1 million signing bonus) and from what I have been able to gather it’s possible that change of scenery might give him a boost for a year or two.

Tweet of the week

Well before free agency started, I wrote that the Redskins’ top priorities in free agency should be to get extensions done for Smith, Brandon Scherff, and Jamison Crowder. They should have about $15 million to work with after a few more free agent signings and that would be plenty to get all of those extensions done. And if they do score a big free agent signing, it would be worth it to restructure the contract of someone like Ryan Kerrigan to get them done.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 23
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 124
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 169

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