Penn State faced an uphill battle in the second half of its game against Northwestern in its attempt to obtain win No. 400 for coach Joe Paterno, but a touchdown the Nittany Lions scored before halftime could provide a spark.
After Northwestern's third touchdown with 1 minute, 1 second left until the half gave the Wildcats a 21-0 lead, the Nittany Lions took over on their own 9 with 50 seconds to play and two timeouts remaining. But instead of just running out the clock, they drove 91 yards in nine plays, with Matt McGloin throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to Brett Brackett with 3 seconds to play.
Brackett made a spectacular leaping catch at the back of the end zone and dragged his left foot in bounds just before reaching the end line. The touchdown was upheld upon review and the Lions were within 21-7 at the half.
After starting quarterback Rob Bolden appeared to be shaken up on a first-quarter sack that led to a lost fumble, McGloin entered the game and played the rest of the half. The redshirt sophomore completed just 3 of his first 10 passes but went 5 for 6 on the touchdown drive for 63 yards, including a pair of 20-yarders to Graham Zug and Joe Suhey.
Despite the relatively one-sided score, the halftime stats were virtually equal. Penn State outgained Northwestern 244-239 and held the ball for 18 more seconds. Bethlehem Liberty graduate Dan Persa rushed for 89 yards and two touchdowns for the Wildcats, and threw a scoring pass to Drake Dunsmore.