McGloin welcomes pressure in comeback

Matt McGloin's touchdown run gave the Nittany Lions the lead in the fourth quarter. Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Matt McGloin gathered his teammates into a tight huddle, while many in the crowd stared at the scoreboard -- Northwestern 28, Penn State 17 -- and figured the game was over.

The fifth-year signal-caller swore he wasn't nervous. He didn't yell, didn't raise his voice. He just looked into his teammates' eyes, and they could tell from his look the game was far from over.

"I don't know about you all," Kyle Carter remembered him saying, "but I love this."

McGloin welcomed the pressure. "There was no panic," he said. "We had a full quarter to play."

The former walk-on made the most of those final 15 minutes. He led his team to three touchdown drives, 22 points and a comeback win.

After marching the Nittany Lions 73 yards for a touchdown, McGloin wasn't done. On the next offensive drive, the game-winning drive, he went 6-of-7 for 49 yards until Penn State found itself on the Northwestern 5-yard line.

McGloin again gathered his team into a tight circle. On third-and-4, he took the snap. The Wildcats pressed up the middle. The 6-foot-1 quarterback, who's never been confused for a dual-threat, rolled to his right and saw an opening.

With the crowd rising to its feet, he sprinted for the end zone, dove for the goal line, and a referee raised his arms to signal a touchdown. Penn State fans began jumping on the bleachers to the tune of "Zombie Nation," and the press box swayed.

"I was unsure what to do," McGloin said. "I didn't know if I had to dive or not, but my brace unfortunately got stuck in the ground so I looked like a complete fool."

The crowd didn't seem to mind. More than a dozen Penn State students were launched into the air by their classmates, mimicking 32 push-ups for each point the Nittany Lions' offense had earned to that point.

Bill O'Brien appears to be running out of compliments for his senior quarterback. Every week, the first-year head coach has been asked about the surprising play of his quarterback and, every week, he tries to give a similar answer.

"He's grown up a lot," O'Brien said with a smile. "I can't say enough about Matt McGloin."

On the first score of the fourth quarter, McGloin found Allen Robinson streaking over the middle on a fourth down conversion. If no one believed Penn State could rally before that play, McGloin was the exception.

"We have a quarterback with a lot of confidence, and it gives you confidence," Carter said. "He's not going to shy away from the pressure."

He certainly didn't Saturday.