CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Penn State played angry. Even the second-team defense got in the act, stuffing Illinois at the 1 on the game's final play.
This one meant a lot to the Nittany Lions, downing new nemesis Illinois 35-7 on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Zach Zwinak and Matt McGloin each scored two touchdowns on the ground and overwhelmed the Fighting Illini for the team's third straight win -- the first on the road for coach Bill O'Brien.
"Having it come against these guys... it was sweet," said the real star of the show, senior linebacker Michael Mauti. "That's really what it was. We never forgot about what happened in the summer. So yeah, to be honest with you, we had that in the back of our minds and that kept us going.
"It was just sweet."
Mauti backed up his tough talk from the summer, coming up with two interceptions and frightening an Illinois player into fumbling a punt by bearing down on him at full speed.
His first interception came on a fourth-down play at the goal line just before halftime, only to be dragged down at the Illinois 1. The 99-yard return broke the school record.
"That one," Mauti said with a smile and a shake of his head, "is gonna haunt my dreams."
Zwinak led the team on the ground for the second straight week, finishing with 100 yards on 19 carries in Penn State's best rushing performance of the season.
McGloin finished 18-of-30 for 211 yards and a passing touchdown to Matt Lehman to go with his two scores on the ground.
No need to sneak this time. Zach Zwinak caps off the best day of his young career with his second touchdown. Penn State leads 35-7 to open the fourth quarter.
Zwinak posts his first career 100-yard rushing day on his 19th carry, going left for a 1-yard score. The sophomore had 94 yards last week against Temple in his first extended playing time in three years at Penn State.
The touchdown was set up by -- guess who -- Michael Mauti, angling for national defensive player of the week honors after his second interception of the day.
Matt McGloin shakes off a rocky start to the second half by marching the Lions down the field for another touchdown and a 28-7 lead after three quarters.
And it's McGloin who takes it in at the goal line, scoring his second touchdown on a QB sneak in back-to-back weeks.
A uncharacteristically poor punt by Illinois' Justin DuVernois sets Penn State up at midfield and McGloin completes three straight passes, including two of his best throws of the day -- 18 yards to Brandon Moseby-Felder and 16 yards to Kyle Carter.
After three Zwinak carries puts it at the 1, McGloin is again successful getting low and driving over the goal line for the score.
Illinois has some life. The Illini reach into the bag of tricks, catching Penn State off guard with a halfback pass for a touchdown to cut the lead to 21-7 in the third quarter.
The Illini flipped field position with a perfect 57-yard punt that was downed on the Penn State 1. Illinois forced a three-and-out and grabbed some momentum by taking over at the Lions' 42.
Nathan Scheelhaase took the snap and pitched it back to tailback Josh Ferguson, who ran to the right sideline.
It was a pass all the way. Spencer Harris was wide open down the field and had plenty of time to camp out at the goal line and wait for the lob to reach him for a 22-yard score.
In one of the strangest endings possible to a first half, Penn State still leads Illinois 21-0.
But it was almost 21-7. And then 28-0. And then 24-0.
On fourth-and-goal from the Penn State 4 with 19 seconds to go, Illinois goes for it to try and cut the lead to two touchdowns. But Nathan Scheelhaase is intercepted at the goal line by none other than Michael Mauti.
The senior sets up blocks right in front of the Illinois sideline and makes a lunge into the end zone for what initially looked like a 100-yard return for a touchdown.
But third-string quarterback Miles Osei, out on the field as a receiver, barely catches Mauti from behind, bringing him down inside the 1-yard line.
Instant replay confirms that Mauti did not score, but it also shows that one second was left on the clock when his right knee went down. The 99-yard interception return is the longest in Penn State history, breaking a record set in 1958 by Wayne Berfield (98 yards) against Boston University.
Bill O'Brien elects to try a field goal on the final play, but Sam Ficken's 18-yard attempt is swatted down by V'Angelo Bentley.
The score stayed at 21-0.
Halftime hits and referees come in to diffuse a potential brawl on the field. The setup at Memorial Stadium requires the teams to cross paths to get to their respective locker rooms. Jawing from both sides ensues with the entire crew in stripes forming a barrier between the teams.
After about 45 seconds of high tension, the sides went off the field without incident.
Tempers are heating up as Penn State has jumped out to a 21-0 lead over Illinois late in the second quarter.
On second-and-8, Matt McGloin delivers a strike to Matt Lehman who hauls it in over the middle for a touchdown.
Then things started to get ugly.
A few steps after the catch in the end zone, Illinois safety Earnest Thomas doesn't slow down and leads with his helmet to deliver a shot to Lehman's chin, dropping the 6-foot-6 tight end quickly to the turf.
Four separate officials threw a flag on the hit. Thomas, a former high school teammate of Allen Robinson and Rob Bolden, was ejected.
The touchdown pass was McGloin's 10th of the season and the second one to Lehman, who walked off under his own power. It was also the 32nd career scoring strike by McGloin, moving him past Anthony Morelli for seventh place in school history.
The Lions have controlled the game, but mistakes are allowing Illinois to hang around at 14-0.
After again driving into Illini territory, Matt McGloin doesn't get rid of the ball and loses 19 yards on a sack while trying to scramble around. That ultimately leads to a 47-yard field goal attempt by Sam Ficken.
As has been the case all season, distance isn't an issue for the sophomore. But the attempt sailed well wide of the target to keep it a two-score game.
A Penn State defensive stand keeps it at a 14-0 lead for the Nittany Lions after one quarter at Memorial Stadium.
Matt McGloin's fourth-down pass was batted away in Illinois territory, giving the Illini their first spark of the game.
Donovonn Young broke off a 52-yard run, with safety Malcolm Willis saving a touchdown with a shoestring tackle at the Penn State 11. It paid off.
The Lions came up with a stop on third-and-7 from the 8 and Illinois kicker Taylor Zalewski pushed a 26-yard field goal attempt wide.
Zalewski is Illinois' backup kicker, filling in for injured starter Nick Immekus.
After going three games without scoring a rushing touchdown, Penn State already has two in the first nine minutes against Illinois.
Matt McGloin scored on a QB sneak from the 1 to put the Lions up 14-0 midway through the first quarter at Memorial Stadium.
McGloin, who came into the year with two rushing scores, already has three this season.
Illinois continues to shoot itself in the foot, getting flagged for holding to stall its only offensive series. After punting back to Penn State, the Illini tacked 15 yards onto Penn State's scoring drive with a personal foul penalty on top corner Terry Hawthorne for targeting the head.
Fittingly, it's Michael Mauti to open things up with a big play, forcing a turnover that has Penn State leading 7-0 early.
The senior linebacker puts a scare into punt returner Tommy Davis, who muffs the punt just before Mauti lays into him. Long snapper Michael Fuhrman is on the spot for the recovery, falling on the loose ball at the Illinois 26.
Mauti was the most outspoken player on the team over the summer in the wake of opposing schools -- most notably Illinois -- coming to State College to recruit Penn State players.
Zach Zwinak polished off the drive on a 1-yard touchdown for his first career score. But that came only after an Illinois penalty for running into Sam Ficken on a successful field goal gave the Lions a first down.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Emotions are high as Penn State opens Big Ten play against Illinois at noon, and The Times Leader is live from Memorial Stadium with updates.
It's exactly 11 months since Joe Paterno's final game, which also happened to come against Illinois. Combine that with the dust-up from the summer in which Illinois coaches came to State College to recruit Penn State players, and today's game stirs up plenty of strong feelings for the Nittany Lions.
The Lions (2-2) have won two in a row, but the Fighting Illini (2-2) are the most talented squad they have faced in the early season. But that hasn't translated to much success thus far for the Illini, who have struggled against a pair of spread offenses, allowing 97 points in a pair of losses.
Starting tailback Bill Belton is on the trip and expected to return to the lineup after a nagging ankle injury kept him out the last three weeks. Top backup Derek Day (shoulder) is also likely to return after sitting out two games.
Players not on the trip include defensive end Pete Massaro (shoulder/knee) and linebacker Nyeem Wartman (knee).
Get ready for the game with our position-by-position breakdown for Penn State and Illinois.
Check back to timesleader.com for updates from the stadium throughout the afternoon. For instant commentary and analysis, follow coverage on Twitter (@TLdlevarse).