Joe Paterno continued writing his own chapter in the record books with his historic 400th career victory under the unlikeliest of circumstances.
The Nittany Lions came back, down 21-0 in the second quarter against Northwestern, to win 35-21. Stranger than that, it was walk-on quarterback Matt McGloin who led Penn State to victory, on in relief of freshman Rob Bolden. Never before this season had JoePa started a true freshman in a season opener, or a walk-on, under center. It just goes to show that an old dog can learn new tricks.
What is truly remarkable about this win is how Paterno handled the quarterbacks. Bolden got the start because, according to JoePa, a player shouldn’t lose his spot because of an injury. This is a very enlightened policy for dealing with the heightened awareness of concussions and presumably would keep players from coming back too soon because they feared being replaced.
After Bolden fumbled on a sack during the second series, however, McGloin came in and led the way to victory. After the final seconds ticked off the clock, Paterno was lifted onto the shoulders of defensive lineman ChimA Okoli and O-lineman Eric Shrive as some of his players carried signs that said “400. The Paterno Way.”
JoePa downplayed the milestone the entire week but it was easy to see that he was moved by the celebration. Always quick to deflect the credit, he complimented his team. “To see them come back the way they came back,” JoePa said in his post-game press conference, “really, it sounds phony, but really it was more important to me than whether it was 350 wins or 400 wins.”
He also directed the crowd to the next task at hand. “Now that the celebration’s over, let’s go beat Ohio State!”
After all, he has his 401st game to win.
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Written by Stephanie Geosits