EVANSTON, Ill. – Jack Mitchell's 35-yard field goal with nine seconds left gave Northwestern a 23-21 victory Saturday over Penn State.
"I knew it was going to come down to me," Mitchell said.
Backup quarterback Zack Oliver passed for one touchdown and ran for another, and Justin Jackson rushed for 186 yards for Northwestern (7-2, 3-2 Big Ten). Mitchell missed an extra point and a pair of field goals but recovered to give the Wildcats a dramatic victory over the Nittany Lions (7-3, 4-2).
"I've got great confidence in Jack," Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald said. "I had full confidence he was going to make that kick. He's pretty good."
Solomon Vault added a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 2:04 left in the first half for Northwestern, which is No. 21 in the College Football Playoff rankings and won its second game in a row after consecutive losses. For Vault, it was his second kickoff return for a score this season and the third of his career, both school records.
Oliver replaced Clayton Thorson after Thorson was hit with 3:09 left in the first quarter by Penn State's Carl Nassib.