LANDOVER, Md. (AP) – Matt McGloin threw for 315 yards and two scores, James Van Fleet returned a blocked punt for a touchdown, and Penn State found the nation’s capital to be a satisfactory home away from home Saturday as they beat Indiana 41-24.
Van Fleet’s 21-yard return broke a 24-24 tie in the third quarter as the Nittany Lions (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten) survived after blowing an early 14-point lead to give coach Joe Paterno his 401st career victory.
Indiana (4-7, 0-7) lost its 12th straight conference game and struggled again on defense, although not as badly as in last week’s 83-20 loss to Wisconsin. The Hoosiers have never beaten Penn State, having failed in all 14 tries.
The Hoosiers were technically the home team, having agreed to move the game for a $3 million payout, but Penn State recruits heavily in the region and has about 42,000 alumni living in the Washington, D.C., area. Nittany Lions white outnumbered Indiana red by about 3-to-1 among the fans at FedEx Field, home of the NFL’s Washington Redskins.
McGloin, making his third career start, completed 22 of 31 passes with touchdown passes to Brett Brackett and Derek Moye and had the Nittany Lions’ first 300-yard passing game of the season. Evan Royster, who went to high school in the D.C. area, ran for a touchdown and finished with 49 yards on 16 carries.
Tandon Doss ran for 61 yards, caught seven passes for 90 yards and also had 142 yards in return yardage for the Hoosiers, who employed a rotating quarterback tandem of Ben Chappell and Edward Wright-Baker for the first time this season.
The Hoosiers allowed Wisconsin to score on all 13 offensive possessions last week, and the streak ran to 15 when Penn State scored on drives of 87 and 99 yards to lead 14-0.
Royster’s 2-yard run was the opening score, and McGloin’s 3-yard pass to Brackett on the first play of the second quarter capped a 10-for-11 start for the quarterback.
The Hoosiers then starting having some success by rotating the quarterbacks. Chappell and Wright-Baker took five snaps apiece in a 78-yard drive that ended with Trea Burgess’ 4-yard run. Chappell’s 12-yard pass to Terrance Turner then cut the Nittany Lions’ lead to 17-14 at the half.
A career-long 49-yard field goal by Indiana’s Mitch Ewald tied the game early in the third quarter.
McGloin hit Moye for a 21-yard touchdown pass to put Penn State back ahead 24-17, and Chappell connected with Doss for a 3-yard score to tie the game again. But Andrew Daily stuffed the ball before it could leave punter Chris Hagerup’s foot to set up Van Fleet’s touchdown return. A 35-yard field goal by Collin Wagner made it a 10-point lead, and Silas Redd’s 1-yard run in the final minutes sealed the win.
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