JoePa became the first major college coach with 400 victories as Penn State rallied from a three-touchdown deficit Saturday night to defeat Northwestern 35-21.
Backup quarterback Matt McGloin threw for four touchdowns and the Nittany Lions (6-3, 3-2 Big Ten) shut down Wildcats quarterback Dan Persa in the second half to get the 83-year-old Paterno his latest milestone.
Only two other coaches have more wins. Eddie Robinson had 408 with FCS school Grambling State, while John Gagliardi had 476 entering the weekend with Division III St. John's, Minn.
Mobbed by his teammates, fans and wife Sue afterward, Penn State honored Paterno with a postgame ceremony as backup tailback Stephfon Green held a sign that read "400. The Paterno Way."
"People ask me why I've stayed here so long, and you know what, look around, look around. Now that the celebration's over, let's go beat Ohio State," he said as the crowd roared.
Persa ran for two scores and threw for another to build a 21-0 lead for Northwestern (6-3, 2-3).
But McGloin rallied Penn State and Silas Redd put Penn State ahead for good with a 4-yard touchdown run for a 28-21 lead in the third quarter.
Northwestern had a last gasp when Persa drove the offense to the Penn State 9 with 8:13 left but threw incomplete into the end zone on fourth down. Linebacker Michael Mauti led a furious second-half defensive charge to contain the dual-threat quarterback.
The 100,000-plus fans packed into Beaver Stadium began celebrating with anticipation, and chants of "Joe Paterno! Joe Paterno," echoed through the stands with 6:30 left and Penn State up comfortably by two touchdowns.
Camera flashes lit up the stands and Paterno stood idly by on the sideline, hands in his gray Penn State parka, not paying much attention to all the ruckus.
As if enough history wasn't being made at raucous Beaver Stadium, the win also matched the biggest come-from-behind win under Paterno, in 1994 when the Nittany Lions also rallied from 21 down to beat Illinois.
The festivities at Beaver Stadium seemed like they were going to be put on hold when Persa cut through Penn State. He had touchdown runs of 6 and 4 yards in the first half, then found tight end Drake Dunsmore in the back of the end zone for a 9-yard touchdown pass for a 21-0 lead late in the first half.
It turned out to be Northwestern's last big play, and Penn State dominated from there.
Freshman Rob Bolden started for the first time since getting knocked out of the Minnesota game two weeks ago with a concussion, but was pulled after fumbling the ball away on a sack on his second series.
McGloin had a so-so start after entering before energizing the crowd with a two minute-drill drive to close the first half that ended with a pretty catch by Brett Brackett in the back of the end zone to cut the lead to 21-7 at the half.
The Nittany Lions could seemingly do no wrong in the second half. McGloin found Nate Cadogan for a 3-yard score before hitting Derek Moye on perfect pass down the right sideline over corner Mike Bolden to tie the game at 21.