Penn State gets it together in second half to rout Northwestern

Drew Allar threw for a touchdown and ran for one, and No. 6 Penn State beat Northwestern 41-13 on Saturday in Evanston.

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Northwestern’s Cam Johnson breaks a tackle during the first half against Penn State on Saturday at Ryan Field.

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Out of sync and tied at halftime, Penn State found its rhythm. Once the Nittany Lions did, there was no stopping them.

Drew Allar threw a touchdown and ran for another and No. 6 Penn State beat Northwestern 41-13 on Saturday.

“That was my message to the team,” coach James Franklin said. “The first half is gone. Let’s play really well in the second half.”

Penn State (5-0, 3-0 Big Ten) did just that, outscoring the Wildcats (2-3, 1-2) 31-3 over the final two quarters. A 17-0 third broke open a game that was tied at 10 at halftime and sent the Nittany Lions to their 10th straight win since losing to Ohio State last October.

Allar completed 18 of 33 passes for 189 yards. He scored from the 1 on Penn State’s first possession of the second half and threw a 2-yard TD to Nick Singleton in the closing minutes of the third to make it a 17-point game.

Singleton ran for 80 yards and a score to go with his touchdown catch. That helped make up for a fumble deep in Penn State territory on the game’s opening kickoff, leading to a field goal for Northwestern.

Trey Potts ran for a TD and caught one. KeAndre Lambert-Smith caught four passes for 86 yards, and the defense produced seven sacks, helping Penn State pull away for a lopsided win.

“Defense battled all day,” Allar said. “Very impressed by them. Very, very happy that they’re our defense. They had our backs when we weren’t doing well in the beginning. We finally picked it up in the second half. They still did their thing. We were able to play a little bit better complementary football in the second half.”

Northwestern had won two of three. But after rallying from 21 down to beat Minnesota in overtime last week, the Wildcats came up short against one of the nation’s best teams.

Ben Bryant threw for just 122 yards after passing for 396 and four touchdowns in the previous game. He ran for a 1-yard score in the second quarter, but exited in the fourth after he landed on his right shoulder getting sacked for the fifth time.

Bryce Kirtz caught three passes for 12 yards after setting career highs last week with 10 receptions for 215 yards and his first two touchdowns.

Cam Johnson had 81 yards receiving. But the Wildcats managed just 175 yards overall against the nation’s No. 1 defense.

BIG SECOND HALF

Coming off a 31-0 win over then-No. 24 Iowa and its first shutout of a Top 25 team since blanking No. 18 Texas A&M 24-0 in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 28, 1999, Penn State took awhile to get going. But the Nittany Lions did just that in the third.

“We talked to each other in that locker room, talking about (how) we just got to stick to the gameplan, keep moving the ball downfield. They’ll get tired eventually, which they did,” Singleton said.

Allar gave Penn State a 17-10 lead when he pushed in from the 1 on fourth down, after keeping the drive going with a 35-yard pass to KeAndre Lambert-Smith on third-and-10 at the 50.

The Nittany Lions — aided by fourth-down stops in Northwestern territory — then tacked on 10 more points.

Alex Felkins kicked a 47-yard field goal after the Wildcats stopped Bryant on fourth-and-1 at the 31. Northwestern lined up for a punt on fourth-and-4 at the 31 on its next possession, but tight end Charlie Mangieri took the snap and came up a yard short on a run.

That led to a 2-yard pass from Allard to Clifford that made it 27-10.

Northwestern then drove to the 1, only to settle for a field goal early in the fourth after Bryant got sacked for nine yards. He appeared to land on his right shoulder, and Brendan Sullivan took over at quarterback on the next possession.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Penn State figures to stay right about where it is in the poll. No. 4 Ohio State and No. 5 Florida State were off this week.

THE TAKEAWAY

Penn State: The Nittany Lions never let Bryant get comfortable and made enough plays in the second half to turn this into a blowout. They’ve won by at least 14 in each game since last year’s loss to Ohio State.

Northwestern: The Wildcats showed they can hang with one of the nation’s best teams — at least for a half.

UP NEXT

Penn State: The Nittany Lions are off next week, then host UMass on Oct. 14.

Northwestern: The Wildcats host Howard on Oct. 7.

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