EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) -- Brett Basanez threw a 41-yard touchdown
pass that was batted into the air by two defenders and caught by
Brandon Horn for the go-ahead score in Northwestern's 17-7 win over
Penn State on Saturday.
The loss was the sixth in a row for Penn State (2-8, 0-6 Big
Ten), its longest losing skid under coach Joe Paterno. The last
time the Nittany Lions lost six straight was in 1931.
With the game tied at 7, Basanez dropped back and threw a deep
pass over the middle -- a yard or two short of his receiver.
Yaacov Yisrael had a play on the ball and nearly intercepted it
when teammate Rich Gardner leaped up and knocked it out of his
grasp. The ball bounced up in the air and into the hands of Horn.
It was the second of two bizarre plays that helped Northwestern
(5-5, 3-3) take over the game in the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats trailed 7-0 and faced fourth-and-7 at the 19 when
they ran a trick play similar to the one that helped them beat
Wisconsin two weeks ago. Northwestern brought its field goal unit
onto the field, with holder Eric Batis running under center and
taking the snap. He faked a handoff and sprinted around the left
end for a first down. Jason Wright then ran it in from 6 yards.
Noah Herron had 180 yards rushing on 35 carries for the
Wildcats, who added a late 27-yard field by Brian Huffman.
Penn State was in control most of the game before falling apart
late -- just as it did last week in a loss to Ohio State.
Penn State led 7-0 and came up with a huge stop early in the
third quarter, stuffing Northwestern on fourth down from the 1 when
freshman linebacker Paul Posluszny fought off a blocker and wrapped
up Herron short of the end zone.
The Wildcats got the ball back at their own 30 and reeled four
straight first downs -- only to have Herron fumble at the Penn State
9 after tripping over a teammate.
The Penn State defense, which forced three turnovers, appeared
to tire late in the fourth quarter when it gave up all 17
Playing in a light snow, Penn State also missed field goal
attempts of 27 and 34 yards in the first half but still lead 7-0 at
The Nittany Lions took the lead on a 1-yard touchdown plunge by
Zack Mills in the first half. Northwestern had Penn State stopped
at the 8, but the Wildcats were called for pass interference in the
end zone on third down to give Penn State another chance at the 2.
Mills dove over the top two plays later for the TD -- although
replays showed the ball was well short of crossing the goal line.
Michael Robinson, who didn't play last week against Ohio State,
made several key plays during the Penn State scoring drive. He had
a catch for 12 yards and a first down, rushed for a 7-yard gain and
then caught a 15-yard pass to get Penn State to the 8.
Sean McHugh led Penn State with 79 yards rushing on 10 carries.
Penn State lost one of its top defenders early in the game.
Senior linebacker Gino Capone, tied for first in the Big Ten in
tackles, was helped off the field in the first quarter with a right
leg injury. He didn't return.