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Nov. 20, 2010
LANDOVER, Md. (AP) - It was turning into quite a day of misadventures for Joe Paterno.
Four players, including three starters, were late for their morning team bus, so the Penn State coach decreed they wouldn't play in the first half.
Then Paterno's bus broke down on the way to the stadium, forcing him and about a dozen players to find room on another one.
Then his Nittany Lions blew a 14-point lead against Indiana, a team that had lost 11 straight Big Ten games.
And, by the way, his starting center was hurt.
Then, with the score tied in the third quarter, the tide turned. Andrew Daily stuffed the ball before it could leave the Indiana punter's foot, and James Van Fleet returned the block for a touchdown to give Penn State the lead for good in a 41-24 victory Saturday.
"I was concerned, let's put it that way," said Paterno, who got career win No. 401. "I was concerned that we had a good lead, and we let them back in the ballgame."
Matt McGloin completed 22 of 31 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns in his third career start, the first 300-yard game by a Penn State quarterback this year as the Nittany Lions (7-4, 4-3) found the nation's capital to be a satisfactory home away from home. Evan Royster and Silas Redd each ran for scores, part of Penn State's 171-yard rushing day.
Indiana (4-7, 0-7) struggled again on defense, although not as infamously as in last week's 83-20 loss to Wisconsin. The Hoosiers have never beaten Penn State, having failed in all 14 tries. They've lost 12th straight conference games, eight of which have been close in the fourth quarter.
"Today was no different," Indiana coach Bill Lynch said. "We just need to get over the hump and make those plays."
The Hoosiers were technically the home team, having agreed to move the game for a $3 million payout, but Penn State recruits heavily in the region and has about 42,000 alumni living in the Washington, D.C., area. Nittany Lions white outnumbered Indiana red by about 3-to-1 among the announced attendance of 78,790 at FedEx Field, home of the NFL's Washington Redskins.
Penn State led 14-0 early, but the Hoosiers rallied using the tandem of quarterbacks Ben Chappell and Edward Wright-Baker for the first time this season. It was 24-24 when Daily found himself with an amazingly clear path between him and Indiana punter Chris Hagerup.
"I might have got it on his drop, actually," Daily said. "I know the rule is if you hit the ball, you can hit the punter. I got there so fast I just jumped all over everything. After a play like that, it's just a domino effect. It's almost like baseball, it's contagious at the plate, and once one big play happened it just kept going."
An interception by Drew Astorino led to a field goal to get the lead to 10, and Redd's touchdown put the game away late in the fourth.
Of course, it might have been easier for Penn State if starting defensive tackles Ollie Ogbu and Devon Still and starting right tackle ChimA Okoli and his backup, DeOn'tae Pannell, hadn't held up the bus a few hours before kickoff. Mike Farrell, a backup left tackle, started at right tackle even though he hadn't played the position in practice all season.
"I'm sure there were a lot of mistakes," Farrell said. "But I was happy to just go out there and help us get a win."
The Nittany Lions also lost center Doug Klopacz in the first half. Paterno said the injury "doesn't look good" but had no further details.
The Hoosiers allowed Wisconsin to score on all 13 offensive possessions last week, and the streak ran to 15 when Penn State scored on drives of 87 and 99 yards to lead 14-0.
The Hoosiers then starting having some success by rotating the quarterbacks. Chappell and Wright-Baker took five snaps apiece in a 78-yard drive that ended with Trea Burgess' 4-yard run. Chappell's 12-yard pass to Terrance Turner then cut the Nittany Lions' lead to 17-14 at the half.
A career-long 49-yard field goal by Indiana's Mitch Ewald tied the game early in the third quarter. McGloin hit Moye for a 21-yard touchdown pass to put Penn State back ahead 24-17, and Chappell connected with Tandon Doss for a 3-yard score to tie the game again.
Doss finished with 61 yards rushing, 90 yards receiving and 142 yards in return yardage.
But the blocked punt effectively ended the Hoosiers' upset hopes.
"It's tough. It's like last year," Chappell said. "It just comes down to execution, really. Executing a punt, executing a throw and catch. It comes down to little stuff like that."