NU GAME: Rudel Highs & Lows

EVANSTON, Ill. — Following are the highlights and lowlights from Penn State's 34-29 win over Northwestern on Saturday at Ryan Field:

PLAY OF THE GAME: On third-and-6 with 51 seconds left, Michael Robinson hit Derrick Williams, who eluded Northwestern safety Reggie McPherson and scored on a 36-yard play to set the final score.

OFFENSIVE MVP: Despite three interceptions that weren't entirely his fault and four fumbles that were, Robinson accounted for 331 yards of total offense and had a hand in four touchdowns.

DEFENSIVE MVP: PSU linebacker Paul Posluszny racked up 22 tackles, two short of the school single-game record (held by Greg Buttle and Bill Banks).

MOST TELLING STAT: Northwestern ran 95 plays, including 30 in the first quarter.

HIDDEN STAT: The Wildcats converted 12 of 24 third-down opportunities, including 8 of 12 in the first half when they surged to a 23-7 lead.

BEST RUN: Lion freshman Justin King took a reverse 43 yards in the fourth quarter, setting up a touchdown that gave the Lions their first lead at 27-26 with 8:52 left.

BEST PASS: Facing fourth-and-15 from the PSU 15 with 1:35 left, Robinson found tight end Isaac Smolko over the middle for 20 yards, keeping alive what would become the game-winning touchdown drive. An incompletion here ends the game.

WORST PASS: Robinson's first pass, a short attempt into the flat, was right into the arms of Northwestern linebacker Tim McGarigle, who somehow dropped it.

BEST CATCH: Northwestern's Jonathan Fields, all 5-foot-8 of him, endured a pass interference penalty against Paul Cronin and hauled in a 38-yard reception to the Penn State 1 in the second quarter. On the next play, the 'Cats went up 20-7.

CATCH IT, WILL YA? Brendan Perretta, in his first non-blowout action of the season, bobbled a pass in the second quarter that was intercepted by Marquice Cole, who returned it 21 yards to the Nit 17. The play set up a Northwestern field goal that gave the Wildcats a 23-7 lead.

GET AWAY FROM IT, WILL YA? Cole made a fair catch at the Wildcats' 3 in the third quarter, a gaffe the Lions eventually turned into a field goal and cut the NW lead to 23-17.

BEST TACKLE: After the Wildcats took a 7-0 lead, Northwestern's Brendan Smith tripped up Derrick Williams at the PSU 37, closing a huge hole and perhaps saving a touchdown.

BEST HIT: Smith drilled Lion receiver Jordan Norwood following a 12-yard slant reception in the first half.

BEST BLOCK: Williams did a nice job to get out in front of a screen pass to Tony Hunt, who took it 16 yards in the fourth quarter.

BEST KICK: Leading 10-0, Northwestern's Joel Howells pooched a kickoff up the right sideline to the PSU 20 that the Lions allowed to bounce and the Wildcats' Ben Rothrauff recovered.

BEST CALL: Northwestern brilliantly executed a fake punt with punter Ryan Pederson taking a pitch from the protector, Chris Malleo, and rushing 19 yards around left end for a first down in the third quarter.

WORST CALL: Didn't like Penn State using its final timeout with the clock already stopped following the completion to Smolko.

OFFICIALLY SPEAKING: On Northwestern's first drive, the floodgates began to open when Tim Shaw appeared to stop Fields short of a first down at the Lion 9, but the referees gave the Wildcats a favorable spot.

BEST STRATEGY: Northwestern spread the field consistently and maintained total control of time of possession, doubling up PSU, 39:59-20:01.

WORST STRATEGY: The Nit staff failed to call one of two remaining timeouts with 2:34 left in the first half after a third-down running play was stopped short of a first down at the Northwestern 25.

BEST EFFORT: Wildcat quarterback Brett Basanez completed 20 of 38 for 229 yards in addition to rushing 21 times for a net gain of 54 more.

UNSUNG HERO: Norwood caught a career-high five passes for 83 yards.

Neil Rudel covers Penn State football for the Altoona Mirror. His post-game coverage can also be read on



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