Safely eluding one Temple defender and dragging two others into the endzone with him, none other than Matt McGloin dove across the plane for Penn State’s first rushing touchdown of the season.
The quarterback’s touchdown put the Nittany Lions up 14-3 with 22 seconds left in the first half and the momentum from the score helped the Lions go on to defeat the Owls, 24-13, on Saturday in front of 93,680. Led by McGloin, who threw for a career-high 318 yards, Penn State finished its non-conference schedule with two straight wins.
With Big Ten play looming, center Matt Stankiewitch said the effort on both sides of the ball showed the team is prepared for the increased challenge of facing upcoming conference opponents.
“This Big Ten schedule is going to be tough,” Stankiewitch said. “It’s going to be a grind, but I think we’re up to the challenge. We’re going to get guys back healthy and we’re going to be ready.”
Penn State’s first Big Ten clash will take place at Illinois on Saturday, when Penn State will look to keep momentum from the Temple win going.
McGloin played a role in each of the Lions’ three touchdowns, as he not only threw a 41-yard strike to Allen Robinson, but also rushed for two scores himself.
Robinson continued his blazing start with five catches for 82 yards and tight end Kyle Carter added five catches for 70 yards.
Carter said the biggest difference in the offense the past two weeks — in which it has produced 58 points — has been confidence.
“Now, we’re actually getting it rolling,” Carter said. “We stayed in pretty much control this whole game. So it’s definitely just we’re getting a lot more confident.”
With running backs Bill Belton and Derek Day still recovering from injuries, Michael Zordich and Zach Zwinak answered the call on the ground, as they combined for 169 yards rushing.
In all, the Lions dominated the Owl defense to the tune of 491 yards, doubling their opponent’s yardage total of 237.
Meanwhile, linebacker Michael Mauti said he was pleased with how his unit defended Temple’s dual-threat quarterback, Chris Coyer.
He added that the crowd — which was participating in a “Blue Out” event to promote the fight against child sex abuse — made an impact on the defense’s success.
“They were really energized about the whole day,” Mauti said. “They really kept us going. We had some really good field position. Backed up in the student section, they were loud as I’ve heard them.”
The defense sacked Coyer three times and held the Owls to six points until a late touchdown brought the final score closer.
Now, Mauti believes the team has no choice but to use the past two wins to build momentum heading forward.
“I think a lot of guys are thinking, ‘We could easily be sitting here 4-0 right now,’ ” Mauti said. “But that’s in the past and all we can really do is keep this thing rolling now. We still have a lot of work to do heading into Illinois and the rest of the Big Ten.”