Just before the game began last night, my wife asked me who had the first possession and I said, “hopefully, us, Northwestern is kicking off.” So, naturally Chaz Powell fumbled away a good kickoff return and Dan Persa and Northwestern quickly converted to go up 7-0 before Penn State QB Matt McGloin could even get on the field for his first start of the season.
McGloin and RB Silas Redd wasted little time and directed the Nittany Lions down the field. McGloin found Justin Brown for a 4 yard touchdown and the extra point tied it up. The defensive responded the next series and sacked Persa on consecutive plays to force a punt. Penn State responded quickly after the punt with McGloin throwing a bomb to Devon Smith for a touchdown on the first play of the drive.
Northwestern responded with Kain Colter taking over at QB. Persa came back in and finished the drive with a TD pass to Coulter tying up the game again. Penn State could only manage an Anthony Fera field goal on their next drive and Northwestern took the lead again behind a long Colter run and then a Colter touchdown. Penn State could only respond with another Fera field goal to make 21-20, Northwestern.
The Wildcats would expand their lead 24-20 with a field goal, leaving Penn State with less than a minute in the half. After two plays failed to get a first down, Redd took off for 42 yards on the third down, giving Penn State a chance to score before the end of the half. After an incompletion, McGloin connected with Smith to get down the 1. Stephfon Green scored from 1 yard out with just second in the half remaining. He and Redd were VERY fired up after the score as Penn State went into the half leading 27-24.
Northwestern started the second half by driving down the field, until Gerald Hodges intercepted a deflected Persa pass and returned it deep into Northwestern territory. On the next play, Redd took a handoff all the way to paydirt for what would be the final score of the game. Penn State led 34-24.
After a shootout in the first half, the defenses settled down and Penn State was content to sit on the lead for the most part. A promising Penn State drive near field goal range ended with McGloin getting sacked, forcing PSU’s first punt of the game after the midway point of the 3rd quarter. Penn State would sack Persa twice in a row on two drives in the second half. He’d leave the game with an apparent foot injury after a 4th quarter scramble. Another Penn State drive would stall just before field goal range. Northwestern would put Trevor Siemian in at quarterback, but he was unable to get Northwestern to the end zone. Penn State ran out the clock deep in Northwestern territory after the Wildcats couldn’t convert on 4th down.
Persa was deadly accurate passing and had an excellent first half. The Penn State offense matched him stride for stride though and the Wildcats ran out of a steam, the prevailing narrative of the Northwestern season apparently. Biggest surprise of the night — no crowd shot’s of Persa’s mom.
Hodges was a beast with interception and over a dozen tackles. He’s really blossomed this season.
Jack Crawford had one of his better games in a long time. He got to Persa a couple of times and created some havoc behind the line of scrimmage.
Everybody on the defensive line had a sack or more. I can’t ever recall a defense ever getting consecutive sacks on three different occasions.
McGloin had an excellent first half. If he made any stupid throws, I don’t remember them. He responded very well to his first start. I think he’s matured considerably as a quarterback, but need more data to make that a conclusion. I think we’ll get it.
Smith had his biggest game ever. I can’t say I’m shocked it was against Northwestern.
Redd had his fourth consecutive game over 100 yards rushing. He’s a beast.
Green contributed more than he had all season. He’s out of the doghouse.
Curtis Dukes and Brandon Beachum barely played.
Derek Moye getting hurt may be a blessing in disguise, it forced McGloin out of his comfort zone and made him throw to more wideouts.
No Joe Suhey yesterday, which was odd since he’s from Chicagoland. I wonder if he was hurt or in the doghouse.
Northwestern receivers were wide open throughout the game. The secondary needs to learn from this one. I though Tom Bradley would have gotten the defense settled down earlier than he did.
Penn State is now atop the Leaders division after Wisconsin’s shocking loss to Michigan State.
I was pleased to hear that The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus celebrated with Maker’s Mark last night. That was choice for a “good stiff bourbon” as well.
Oh and Northwestern — the silver helmets and monochromatic uniforms were stupid. If your jerseys don’t have a “Northwestern stripe” on them, you don’t deserve to win.