BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Matt McGloin watched agonizingly as Penn State squandered its scoring chances Saturday.
He needed only one play to fix the whole darn thing.
McGloin made the right read and the perfect throw late in the third quarter, hooking up with Derek Moye on a 74-yard TD pass and leading the Nittany Lions past Indiana 16-10.
“They were pressing a lot, really challenging us to throw deep, so we sent Derek out on a go route and I let it fly and he ran under it,” McGloin said. “At times, we play extremely well. I think we just need to learn to be more consistent and stop with the penalties that we’ve been getting.”
The TD pass helped Penn State (4-1) put away the Hoosiers for a 15th consecutive time in the Big Ten opener for both teams.
For McGloin, it was a chance to shine on an otherwise bleak day for the offense.
Penn State blew one scoring opportunity with an interception at the Indiana 1, another with a lost fumble at the Hoosiers 2 and two other potential chances when players recovered their own fumbles. In between, there were dropped passes, errant throws and unsettling penalties — a dangerous combination that nearly had Joe Paterno yanking out his hair again.
But just when things were looking bleak, McGloin re-emerged as a steadying influence.
He returned to the game with 1:41 left in the third quarter, and when he saw the Indiana safety bite inside on a curl route and Moye sprint past the one-on-one coverage on the outside. All McGloin had to do was get the ball into Moye’s hands, and the receiver jogged the remaining distance to make it 13-3.
One play, one score.
“The corner was playing off, I had a double move, I faked the curl, he bit on it pretty hard and McGloin threw the perfect ball,” said Moye, who caught six passes for 158 yards.
McGloin wasn’t done.
On Penn State’s next possession, he took the offense 63 yards in 13 plays, burning more than 5 1/2 minutes. Anthony Fera capped the drive with a 33-yard field goal, his third of the day, to make it 16-3 with 10:10 to go.
McGloin finished 10 of 22 for 204 yards with the touchdown and no interceptions. It still may not be enough to win back the starting job from Rob Bolden.
“I think both of them did a decent job. I don’t think either one of them played a better job today, but they both hung in there,” said Paterno, who spent the first half on the sideline and then moved upstairs at halftime for the second straight week. “I think we’ll go back home and take a good look at it. I think we’ll take a look at where we are and what we can do to get a little better.”
The Hoosiers (1-4) might need an offensive overhaul.
For the second straight week, they failed to get in the end zone during the first three quarters. And for the second straight week, a late rally still fell short.
Yes, Dusty Kiel was solid in his in his first career start. He was 22 of 45 for 184 yards with one TD and one interception, and he got the Hoosiers within 16-10 with a brilliantly executed drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Ted Bolser.
Heck, he even had a chance to accomplish something no Hoosiers quarterback has — beating the Nittany Lions — after the defense forced a late punt.
Kiel got the Hoosiers to the Penn State 40, but his desperation heave into the wind came up 5 yards short of the goal line and fell through the hands of Damarlo Belcher anyway.
“The offense didn’t help the defense,” Hoosiers coach Kevin Wilson said. “The defense bailed the offense out a lot today. They had some yards, but our defense did a great job rallying.”
Actually, both defenses did a credible job.
Though the Nittany Lions had 241 yards and a 2-1 advantage in possession time during the first half, they only managed one score — a 22-yard field goal that tied the score at 3 with 2:57 to go.
Penn State finally took the lead after recovering a fumble at the Indiana 13 early in the third quarter. But after gaining only three yards, Fera made a 27-yard field goal to give Penn State a 6-3 lead.
Eleven minutes later, McGloin entered the game and changed everything with the quick-hitting TD pass and the long drive to set up Fera for his third field goal.
Perhaps it will even give the Nittany Lions’ offense a spark.
“We’re moving the ball more and more, but like I said, we’ve had the same problem the last couple games. We’ve just been stopping ourselves,” McGloin said. “I think we need to definitely improve in the red zone. Three field goals, that just can’t happen in Big Ten play.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)