STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- One defender latched on to Matt McGloin as he trudged toward the goal line, then a second. Carrying two players with him, the senior quarterback took two laborious steps forward before falling on his right knee in the end zone for a touchdown.
The 1-yard run, like the rest of the game, wasn't pretty -- but it got the job done for Penn State.
McGloin threw for a career-high 318 yards and ran for two short scores, and linebacker Michael Mauti led another strong defensive effort to lead the Nittany Lions to a 24-13 win Saturday over Temple.
"It's all those squats (training coaches) were making me do in the summer," McGloin joked about his plodding plunge into the end zone to make it 14-3 with 22 seconds left in the first half. "At that point, you get so close to the end zone, you kind of just push forward and do whatever you can."
It was another blue-collar effort for Penn State (2-2), which had to overcome nine penalties, an interception in the red zone and a couple other mistakes to extend Temple's decades-long streak of misery against its in-state rival.
"I think we left a lot of points off the board," said rookie head coach Bill O'Brien.
Officially, the Temple (1-2) losing streak in the series stands at 23 games since the seven Penn State victories between 2003-2011 have been vacated because of NCAA sanctions. The Owls tied Penn State 7-7 in 1950, but otherwise have been winless in the series since a 14-0 shutout on Oct. 18, 1941.
Temple couldn't capitalize on a number of Penn State penalties and mistakes. The Owls finally got a touchdown on Matt Brown's 1-yard catch off a shovel pass with 1:33 left in the game.
It was way too late for Owls' coach Steve Addazio.
"We made our mind up going into that game that we were going to try to be more balanced. We're going take our shots," Addazio said. "When we did, we missed on the plays that were there to be made. We missed on them."
Penn State held decisive edges in first downs (27-13) and total offense (491-237). Running back Michael Zordich himself had 101 total yards of offense by halftime -- or five more than Temple's entire team for the half.
After early struggles against Temple's blitz, Penn State moved the ball at will on the Owls but tripped themselves up with penalties. At one point late in the second quarter, two consecutive long gains into Temple territory were negated by offensive pass interference and holding penalties, respectively.
A roughly 15-minute spurt from the second quarter into the third finally got Penn State on track. The defense kept Temple at bay before the offense got going again after being hampered by penalties.
Mauti, who had a team-high nine tackles, set the emotional tone again. Defensive tackle Jordan Hill pushed around Temple's front five with seven tackles and a sack.
"As a football player, you use any type of edge you can get, so we got mad about that," Hill said about the penalties. "We went out there and said, 'Hey, they're not going to score on us.' "
Temple, pinned deep in its own territory, went 3-and-out on its next drive to give Penn State the ball back with 1:10 left in the half at the Owls' 35.
Plenty of time for McGloin against the Owls' porous defense.
The senior connected with freshman tight end Kyle Carter for gains of 13 and 20 to get Penn State to the 2, and a personal foul penalty pushed them a yard closer.
On the drive, sunlight broke through the heavy, gray clouds that lingered over Happy Valley most of the day and streamed down on the Beaver Stadium field -- an ideal setting for McGloin's first touchdown run with Owl defenders Marcus Green and Nate Smith hanging on to him.
"He kept his poise a lot better than I did," O'Brien said about McGloin's performance on the day.
A Temple offense that couldn't move the ball through the air opened the third quarter with two more 3-and-outs, and the Nittany Lions answered with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended with a 2-yard touchdown run for McGloin.
After going three games without a rushing score, Penn State's first two touchdowns on the ground for the season came from the senior quarterback. McGloin finished 24-of-36 passing with his touchdown to Robinson and one interception, which occurred after a pass near the goal line deflected off of Brandon Moseby-Felder's hands and into the arms of Temple's Tavon Young.
McGloin ran for 13 yards on six carries, while Allen Robinson added to his torrid start as the Nittany Lions' top receiver with a 41-yard touchdown catch on a fourth-down play to open Penn State's scoring.
Temple added two field goals from standout Brandon McManus. Quarterback Chris Coyer ran for 64 yards on 13 carries but Penn State contained the Owls' passing game -- not exactly a Temple strength in the first place.
"On offense, we've got to throw and catch better," Addazio said. "We tried to throw the ball more, but we missed some opportunities."
Coyer finished 13-of-26 passing for 124 yards -- 65 coming in the final drive with less than three minutes left that ended with Brown's short score.
This isn't the kind of momentum Temple was hoping for before returning to the Big East in two weeks against South Florida.
Zordich finished with 15 carries for 75 yards and four catches for 39 yards before leaving with a left knee injury in the fourth quarter. A team spokesman said it was just a bruise, and the senior said afterward he would be fine after icing down the knee.