If Matt McGloin keeps this up, he may go from State College to a State Farm commercial.
McGloin celebrated his five-yard, go-ahead rushing touchdown against Northwestern as if he were wearing a championship belt, similar to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — who made the move famous as the “discount double check” in a series of insurance ads.
The run was the exclamation point on a furious fourth-quarter rally led by the senior quarterback. Before McGloin got to celebrate, however, he had to score. On third-and-goal from the five, McGloin rolled out to his right and made a few pump fakes before taking off and “diving” into the corner of the endzone.
“If we don’t get it there, we have to throw it away, it’s basically an extra point on fourth down,” McGloin said. “They just brought some pressure inside so I just rolled out and I saw an opening outside. Kyle [Carter] and Allen [Robinson] did a good job staying on their guys, blocking them and I got in.”
The touchdown run was just part of a memorable final 15 minutes for the Scranton native. In the fourth quarter, McGloin was 13-for-15 for 103 yards, accounted for two touchdowns, led Penn State on scoring drives of 82 and 85 yards and completed two fourth-down passes.
The first of the fourth-down completions was a diving touchdown catch by sophomore Allen Robinson, who hauled in both of McGloin’s touchdown passes. McGloin said the play coach Bill O’Brien called was something the team has been working on since in the spring.
“We felt very comfortable with [the play],” McGloin said. “Kyle Carter is going to draw a lot of attention. He came across and the safety bit down on it. And Allen did a great job of getting in behind him and making a great catch, like he always does.”
Penn State quickly got the ball back and 85 yards separated McGloin and the offense from the lead. The spotlight was shining on No. 11, which is what he likes.
“He came in the huddle, and we probably had 80 yards to go, 90 yards to go and he just said ‘I don’t know about y’all, but I love moments like this,’ ” tight end Kyle Carter said. “And we just looked at each other and nodded and we went right down and scored.”
McGloin finished with 282 passing yards, two touchdowns through the air and set a Penn State record with 35 completions, which came on 51 attempts. At halftime, McGloin’s numbers looked good (16-for-28, 132 yards), but his play was shaky as he fired some balls that were nearly intercepted. However, he made some adjustments at the break.
“He understands the things we talk about at halftime. We have to do this better or that better,” O’Brien said. “He understands it’s a 60-minute game. He’s grown up a lot. When you’re a senior and playing your last few games here at Penn State, that means a lot to him.”
With another solid performance, McGloin is certainly in the conversation when talking about the Big Ten’s top quarterbacks. With six weeks in the books, McGloin leads all conference passers with 249.8 passing yards per game and he is tied for the lead in the Big Ten with 12 passing touchdowns.
And it’s not all about McGloin’s arm this season.
Though McGloin is not the definition of a “mobile quarterback,” the 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior has been making plays with his feet. McGloin has the fewest rushing yards of anyone on the roster (-2), but has the most rushing touchdowns (5).
Most of his gains have come on quarterback sneaks, which have been a success all season, and McGloin has done well to elude linemen in the backfield and has been sacked just seven times this season.
The success on the ground from the quarterback has led to some jokes from both teammates and coaches. Senior center Matt Stankiewitch is the lead blocker on the quarterback sneaks and also one of McGloin’s closest friends on the team. He said he’s been hearing about all the extra touchdowns McGloin has this season.
“He should be buying me dinner or something instead of bragging,” Stankiewitch joked.
And in anticipation of hearing about his touchdown run at practice, O’Brien had a comeback ready after the game.
“Now he’s going to come in Monday and tell me he’s a 4.3 [second] 40 [yard dash],” O’Brien said. “I’m going to tell him we’re timing his 40 with a sundial.”