EVANSTON (AP) Joe Paterno needed help from an unlikely hero a freshman backup quarterback in the final two minutes Saturday to finally tie the major-college coaching record.
Called off the bench for the first time with 1:39 remaining, Zack Mills threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Eric McCoo with 22 seconds to go as previously winless Penn State rallied for a 38-35 upset of then No. 2 Northwestern .
Paterno tied Bear Bryant for most Division I-A victories with 323, and can surpass Bryant next week against Ohio State, although Saturday”s dramatics will be hard to top.
Entering the game averaging just eight points a game and with the nation”s worst rushing offense, Penn State (1-3 Big Ten, 1-4 overall) enjoyed a productive afternoon against Northwestern”s porous defense. In coming from behind five times, the Nittany Lions piled up 501 yards total offense, including a season-high 213 on the ground, and exceeded their previous point total of 31 in one game.
Mills, a redshirt freshman, was summoned early in the subsequent game-winning, 69-yard drive after junior Matt Senneca, enjoying a career game, was knocked out on a jarring tackle. Penn State had the ball on its own 48, second and 10.
He promptly completed 5 of 8 passes for 54 yards, including the game-winner to McCoo near the goal line on the left side on a first-down play.
Senneca had career-best totals of 20-of-39 passes for 234 yards, threw a 16-yard touchdown to McCoo and had the first two rushing TDs of his college career, each from a yard out.
North Carolina 38, Clemson 3: Carolina defensive end Julius Peppers was tired of hearing about Clemson”s Woodrow Dantzler. So he and the Tar Heels shut down the talk where it counted most on the field.
Peppers had a remarkable interception and North Carolina held Clemson”s Heisman hopeful to one of his worst games with 118 yards in the Tar Heels 38-3 victory over then 13th ranked Tigers on Saturday.
“He had 900-something yards the past two games but we”re better than that,” said Peppers, the 6-foot-6, 285 pound end. “Our defense is better than that.”
They proved it against Clemson (2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference, 4-2 ) to win their fifth straight after opening 0-3.
Peppers tipped Dantzler”s pass and lunged for the interception, which led to the first of Bosley Allen”s two touchdown catches. The rest of the time, North Carolina (4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference, 5-3) never gave Dantzler the chance to dazzle them like he did Georgia Tech and North Carolina the past two games.
Both North Carolina quarterbacks, freshman Darian Durant and senior Ronald Curry, played more like Dantzler than Dantzler.
Durant was 11-for-11 for 97 yards. He threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Allen following Pepper”s interception and rushed for scores of five and one yard in the second half. Curry, before leaving with a left hamstring strain in the third quarter, ran for 82 yards and passed for 109, including a 48-yard touchdown to Bosley as the Tar Heels led 21-3.
North Carolina, led by Peppers, held the ACC”s top offense to 209 yards less than half its 455-yard average.
Dantzler was held to 36 yards rushing and 8-of-18 passing for 62 yards in the opening half.
He was 2-of-7 for 13 yards and had 7 yards rushing in the third quarter before Simmons came in.
“They did some things because of their defensive ability,” Bowden said. “A lot of it was them, they made it tough to execute.”