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    'Cats' Homecoming Effort Falls Short Against Nittany Lions, 34-24

    NUSPORTSDOTCOM Dan Persa completed 26 of 34 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown against Penn State.
    Dan Persa completed 26 of 34 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown against Penn State.

    Oct. 22, 2011

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    Site: Evanston, Ill. (Ryan Field)
    Score: #RV/22 Penn State 34, Northwestern 24
    Records: NU (2-5, 0-4 Big Ten), Penn State (7-1, 4-0 Big Ten)
    Next NU Event: Saturday, Oct. 29 -- at Indiana (Bloomington, Ind.), 11 a.m. CT

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    EVANSTON, Ill. -- It was a tale of two halves Saturday night at Ryan Field in Northwestern's Homecoming game against Penn State. The 'Cats racked up 281 yards and 24 points in the first half but were shut out in the second despite putting up a fierce battle as Northwestern fell to Penn State, 34-24.

    Northwestern racked up 406 yards in the game as quarterback Dan Persa finished 26-of-34 passing for 294 yards. Jeremy Ebert accounted for 109 yards on five receptions, including a 54-yard catch in the second quarter. Kain Colter led the 'Cats in rushing with 51 yards on nine attempts and scored two touchdowns.

    The Wildcats' special teams were opportunistic from the start as Mike Jensen forced a fumble on the game's opening kickoff that was recovered by Jeravin Matthews, giving NU the ball on the Penn State 34-yard line.

    Dan Persa completed a seven-play drive by sneaking it into the end zone from less than a yard out on fourth down to help give Northwestern an early 7-0 lead.

    A long return on the ensuing kickoff allowed the Nittany Lions to start their drive from the Wildcats' 44. A four-yard touchdown completion from Matt McGloin to Justin Brown on third down helped PSU tie the game.

    It didn't take Penn State long to take the lead following a Northwestern punt as McGloin hooked up with Devon Smith on a 45-yard scoring pass to put the guests in front 14-7 with 5:51 still remaining in the first quarter.

    Penn State Game Highlights

    The Nittany Lions entered the contest ranked sixth in the nation having allowed an average of just 11.6 points per game, but the 'Cats surpassed that total in the opening stanza by answering right back on their next possession. NU marched 87 yards in 10 plays with Kain Colter hauling in a 12-yard completion from Persa for his first career touchdown reception to make it 14-14.

    The back-and-forth battle continued on Penn State's next drive as a 37-yard field goal by Anthony Fera put the visitors back up by three, but Northwestern responded yet again. A 46-yard run by Colter gave the Wildcats first and goal at the PSU 7 before he finished the drive two plays later with a four-yard scamper to put NU up 21-17 with 8:43 to go in the first half.

    The teams capped the frenetic half by trading field goals -- a 33-yarder by Fera and a 25-yarder by Jeff Budzien -- before a one-yard touchdown run by Stephfon Green with just seven seconds remaining gave the Nittany Lions a 27-24 lead at the intermission.

    Northwestern drove inside the Penn State 20 on the first possession of the second half before an interception off a tipped ball allowed the Nittany Lions to take over at the NU 19. One play later, Silas Redd scampered into the end zone to extend the PSU lead to 10.

    Both defenses finally settled in as neither offense was able to put points on the board the remainder of the third quarter and both were shut out in the fourth quarter.

    After Northwestern forced punts on three consecutive Penn State possessions, the Wildcats marched to the Nittany Lions' 13-yard line, but consecutive sacks after Persa had to leave the game due to injury took NU out of field goal range.

    Penn State was able to run three minutes off the clock, giving Northwestern the ball back with just 2:51 remaining and the ball at its own 18. The Nittany Lions were able to hold off the Wildcats the rest of the way to improve to 7-1 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten.

    Northwestern returns to action at 11 a.m. CT Saturday when it travels to Indiana.


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