Paterno gets 400th win

Joe Paterno got career win No. 400 as the Nittany Lions (6-3, 3-2 Big Ten) had to rally from a three-touchdown deficit to defeat Northwestern 35-21 and get the 83-year-old Paterno his latest milestone.

Only two other coaches have more wins. Eddie Robinson had 408 with FCS school Grambling State, while John Gagliardi had 476 entering the weekend with Division III St. John’s, Minn.

The festivities looked like they would be put on hold after a dreary first half for the Nittany Lions, and dual-threat Wildcats quarterback Dan Persa did his best to play spoiler.

He sliced through the defense for 109 yards on 25 carries and touchdown runs of 6 and 4 yards in the first half. He was also 16 of 25 passing for 201 yards, including a throw caught with one hand by leaping tight end Drake Dunsmore in the back of the end zone for a 21-0 lead late in the half for Northwestern (6-3, 2-3).

It turned out to be Northwestern’s last big play, and Penn State dominated from there.

Freshman Rob Bolden had started for the first time since getting knocked out of the Minnesota game two weeks ago with a concussion, but was pulled after fumbling the ball away on a sack on his second series. Enter McGloin, the scrappy former walk-on who finished 18 of 29 passing for 225 yards. Paterno said afterward that Bolden wasn’t hurt.

After a so-so start, McGloin re-energized the team with a two-minute drill that ended with a 7-yard touchdown catch by Brett Brackett with 3 seconds left in the half to cut the deficit to 21-7.

McGloin threw two more touchdown passes in the third quarter against a shell-shocked Northwestern defense before freshman tailback Silas Redd put Penn State up for good with a 4-yard scoring run with 1:31 left in the quarter.

As if enough history wasn’t already being made at raucous Beaver Stadium, the win also matched the biggest come-from-behind victory under Paterno. In 1994, the Nittany Lions also rallied from 21 down to beat Illinois.

Northwestern had a last gasp when Persa drove the offense to the Penn State 9 with 8:13 left but he threw an incompletion into the end zone on fourth down. Linebacker Michael Mauti led a furious second-half defensive charge to contain the dual-threat quarterback.

 

 

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