It took all 60 minutes on a snowy, sloppy Saturday in Happy Valley, but JoePa broke Eddie Robinson’s record with victory No. 409 as No. 21 Penn State defeated Illinois 10-7. Among all coaches, Paterno now only trails John Gagliardi, still active at Division III St. John’s, Minn., with 481 victories.
The Nittany Lions overcame six fumbles—losing two— with Silas Redd’s 3-yard touchdown run with 1:08 to go. Penn State’s only touchdown came after Illinois corner Justin Green was whistled for pass interference while breaking up a fourth-down pass for Derek Moye in the end zone.
Illinois then drove from its 17 to the Penn State 25 on the next drive, but Derek Dimke’s 42-yard field goal attempt bounced off the right upright as time expired.
An early-season snowstorm had fans bundled up in winter parkas and hoodies and both teams offenses seemed to be frozen stiff. One of the few offensive stars was Redd who had a career-high 30 carries for 137 yards.
And as he has done all season, when Penn State needed a drive at the end of the game for the win Matt McGloin delivered. Despite struggling most of the afternoon, McGloin drove Penn State from their own 20 to the Illini 32 on three long completions before the pass interference call gave the Nittany Lions a second chance.
Redd capitalized four plays later by barreling into the end zone, the crowd erupting in delight.
The Nittany Lions are an unlikely 8-1 this season and 5-0 in the Big Ten. For a team that has struggled as much as Penn State has offensively this season, the record is remarkable. But McGloin keeps making plays when it counts and this Penn State team is able to win the close games.
Next up for the Lions is a massive game against Nebraska on 12 November.