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GAMEDAY College Football

Penn State 17, Northwestern 7

(AP Photo/Barry Reeger)

By TRAVIS JOHNSON
Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - As rain pounded the field during warmups, Penn State's PJ Mustipher found himself in his natural element.

Frolicking shirtless, the 320-pound defensive tackle high-stepped and skipped, grinning ear-to-ear as he kicked up grass and dirt an hour before No. 11 Penn State outlasted Northwestern 17-7 in the slop.

Penn State's defensive captain stuffed Northwestern quarterback Ryan Hilinski at the goal line early in the fourth quarter to snuff out the Wildcats' second-half momentum, and Penn State scored 14 points off three Northwestern turnovers to overcome five of its own giveaways.

"It was a grimy game," Mustipher said. "We executed our defense, made the plays we were supposed to and that's about it."

Nick Singleton had 21 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown, Sean Clifford completed 10 of 20 passes for 140 yards with a touchdown and Kaytron Allen added 86 rushing yards on 21 carries to help Penn State (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) stay unbeaten heading into an off week where they'll have plenty to clean up.

Both teams struggled early, combining for six turnovers in the first half.

Penn State coughed up the ball twice on its first three drives. Xander Mueller recovered a Singleton fumble and Bryce Gallagher intercepted Clifford, but Penn State's defense kept the Wildcats (1-3, 1-1) from taking advantage.

Northwestern gained just 13 yards in the first quarter and gave the ball back when Ji'Ayir Brown intercepted Ryan Hilinski and returned it to midfield.

Clifford led a quick five-play drive from there, and found tight end Brenton Strange open in the flat. Strange leapt over a defender at the goal line to make it 7-0 late in the first.

Hilinski didn't complete his first pass until 10 minutes before halftime. Shortly afterward, a bad snap bounced at his feet and Penn State defensive end Nick Tarburton hopped on it.

The Nittany Lions turned that giveaway into points, too, when Singleton plowed in from two yards out seven plays later.

Singleton's up and down day continued, with the freshman fumbling again Penn State's next possession when Rod Heard drilled him behind the line of scrimmage. Cameron Mitchell recovered for the Wildcats. But they couldn't block Tarburton.

Penn State's end hit Hilinski two plays later to force another fumble. Linebacker Curtis Jacobs recovered to keep the score 14-0 at halftime.

The Nittany Lions held the Wildcats to just 31 rushing yards. Northwestern running back Evan Hull, who entered leading the country in yards from scrimmage, finished with 96.

Kicker Jake Pinegar added to Penn State's lead with a 38-yard field goal with 14:29 left.

FINAL SHOT

Hilinski got into a rhythm in the fourth quarter before Mustipher shut him down.

Northwestern's quarterback went 5-for-9 with 54 yards to steer his offense to the Penn State 1 on the Wildcats' 11th possession of the day. Instead of opting for a field goal that would've made it 17-10 with just under 12 minutes left, Fitzgerald tried to sneak Hilinski over the goal line.

"That was the turning point in the game to be honest with you," Fitzgerald said.

NO EXCUSES

Franklin was not pleased with his team's turnovers, especially after the Nittany Lions entered the game second in the country at plus-8 in turnover margin.

In addition to Singleton's two fumbles, Allen and Keyvone Lee also lost hold of the ball.

"I'm never going to allow the weather to be an excuse," Franklin said. "It doesn't matter. We have to protect the football."

INJURY REPORT

Penn State wideout KeAndre Lambert-Smith suffered a right leg injury in the first quarter and spent the rest of the game on the sideline with his right leg in a boot.

THE TAKEAWAY

Northwestern: Northwestern has been plagued by turnovers all season. Saturday was no different. They gave the ball away nearly every time they had any momentum going. Meanwhile, Hull entered the game as the team's leading receiver, but didn't catch his first pass until late in the third quarter.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions are off next week before they travel to Michigan to face the No. 4 Wolverines on Oct. 15. They'll have a lot to clean up.


Scoring Summary
First Quarter NWPSU
PSU TD 0:15 Brenton Strange 20 yd pass from Sean Clifford (Jake Pinegar kick) 0 7
Second Quarter NWPSU
PSU TD 5:02 Nicholas Singleton 2 yd run (Jake Pinegar kick) 0 14
Third Quarter NWPSU
NW TD 2:10 Jacob Gill 47 yd pass from Ryan Hilinski (Adam Stage kick) 7 14
Fourth Quarter NWPSU
PSU FG 14:29 Jake Pinegar 38 yd FG 7 17
Team Stats
  Northwestern Penn State
First downs 12 21
  Rushing 3 12
  Passing 7 9
  Penalty 2 0
3rd Down Efficiency 4-16, 25% 4-15, 27%
4th down efficiency 1-4, 25% 3-3, 100%
Rushes-Yards 28-31 58-220
Passing Yards 210 140
Return Yards 19 42
Completions-Attempts-Int 15-37-1 10-20-1
Sacks-Yards Lost 1--5 0-0
Punts 7 5
Punts-Average 39.9 40
Fumbles Lost 3-2 4-4
Penalties - Yards 2-10 7-55
Time of Possession 22:32 37:28
Northwestern Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
R. Hilinski 15 37 210 1 1
Penn State Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
S. Clifford 10 20 140 1 1
Northwestern Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
E. Hull 11 45 4.1 0
A. Tyus III 2 6 3.0 0
M. Washington 1 0 0.0 0
C. Porter 7 -5 -0.7 0
R. Hilinski 6 -10 -1.7 0
Penn State Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
N. Singleton 21 87 4.1 1
K. Allen 21 86 4.1 0
K. Lee 10 40 4.0 0
S. Clifford 3 13 4.3 0
Northwestern Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
D. Navarro III 4 55 13.8 0
J. Gill 1 47 47.0 1
M. Washington 4 42 10.5 0
M. Lang 3 34 11.3 0
E. Hull 3 32 10.7 0
Penn State Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
P. Washington 4 73 18.3 0
B. Strange 1 20 20.0 1
M. Tinsley 2 16 8.0 0
H. Wallace III 1 12 12.0 0
N. Singleton 1 11 11.0 0
T. Johnson 1 8 8.0 0
Northwestern Interceptions
Player Int Yards
B. Gallagher 1 0
Penn State Interceptions
Player Int Yards
J. Brown 1 30
Northwestern Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
H. Renner 5 205 41.0
L. Akers 2 74 37.0
Penn State Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
B. Amor 5 200 40.0
Northwestern Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
Penn State Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
P. Washington 1 12 12.0
Northwestern Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
E. Hull 1 19 19.0
Penn State Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
Northwestern Missed FG
Player Length
Penn State Missed FG
Player Length




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