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Penn State shuts down Northwestern in second half in 34-24 win

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Silas Redd ran for 168 yards and a touchdown and Matt McGloin threw for two scores, but it was Gerald Hodges' third-quarter interception that changed the game and led Penn State to a 34-24 win over Northwestern Saturday night.

An explosive offensive output and a stifling second-half defensive performance earned Joe Paterno his 408th win as Penn State toppled Northwestern in classic Penn State style, 34-24.

Penn State came into Saturday night’s match up undefeated in conference play, looking to beat a Northwestern team on a four-game losing streak. It seems Penn State has finally found a starting quarter back in Matt McGloin who threw for almost 200 yards and was a defining factor in the victory. The Penn State offense tallied 389 total yards, with an even distribution between the passing game and the running game with 197 yards on the ground and 192 through the air. Penn State's defense was able to hold the Northwestern running attack to only 94 yards and recorded a huge interception early in the third quarter to push the Lions through the second half.

Most of the scoring was done in the first half as the squads see-sawed offensively, with neither team able to stop the scoring drives of the other. Opportunity knocked early for Northwestern as they recovered the fumbled kickoff on the Penn State 34 and drove in for a score on six plays. This quick strike only took 2:34 seconds off the clock and put the Wildcats up 7-0. A nice kickoff return by Penn State’s Chaz Powell for 54 yards set the Lions up on the Northwestern 44 yard line. From here a 10-play, 44-yard drive evened the score after Matt McGloin hit Justin Brown on a four-yard stop route in the end zone.

A bomb of a pass with 5:57 left in the first quarter from McGloin to Devon Smith for 45 yards put the Lions up 14-7. The Wildcats would not go away though, and ground out another 10-play, 87-yard drive to bring the game to 14-14 at the end of the first quarter.

The scoring frenzy continued in the second quarter, with a Penn State field goal and another Northwester touchdown, a Kain Colter rush for 4 yards, which put the Wildcats up 21-17. It was at this point in the game that the Lion’s junior quarterback took over, as McGloin completed 5 of 7 passes in their next drive, although the Lions had to settle for a field goal. Northwestern tacked on a field goal of their own before the Lions struck again, this time on the legs of Silas Redd who broke out for a 42-yard gain that brought the Lions to the Northwestern doorstep. Stephfon Green capped the drive with a one-yard run and brought the score to 27-24 Penn State into the half.

Defense was the name of the game in the second half for both teams as the only scoring was done by Redd, a 19-yard touchdown scamper that occurred one play after Gerald Hodges picked off a deflected Northwestern pass and carried it 62 yards into enemy territory, finally going down on the Northwestern 19. Hodges had a monster game with 13 tackles to go along with this crucial interception.

The Penn State defense collected seven sacks in total, including two big stops in the fourth quarter that preserved their victory.

Through the Air
Penn State’s McGloin and Northwestern’s Dan Persa both had good games. McGloin was 17/26 with 192 yards and two touchdowns while Pennsylvania high school star Persa completed 26 of his 34 attempts for a total of 294 yards, a touchdown and one interception. The receptions were spread around for the Lions, but junior Devon Smith had 6 for 110 yards and a touchdown. Northwestern’s top receiver was Jeremy Ebert who had 5 catches for 109 yards.

On the Ground
Penn State's rushing attack was huge in this game, lead by Silas Redd, who collected 164 yards on 18 carries including a touchdown. Northwestern was held to only 94 yards, their top rushing being Kain Colter who gained 51 yards on 9 carries.

Defense
The Penn State defense came up big in this game, recording seven sacks and stopping Northwestern in important points of the game. Although they gave up more production then has been the normal this season, 406 total yards, they were able to record a game-changing interception early in the second half that kept their hold of the momentum and allowed for a victory.

Special Teams
Penn State kick returns played a large roll in the Lions' victory on Saturday as Powell and Amos combined for 140 return yards and gave Penn State important field position multiple times in the contest.

Game Ball
This week's honors have to go to Penn State's Silas Redd, as he achieved the highest number of rushing yards of his career in 164 and spearheaded a Lions offense that was determined to win one for the gipper.

Next Up
Penn State will face Illinois on the 29th at home as they look to continue their winning season.

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