CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — His elbow ailing from absorbing two powerful first-half blows, quarterback Matt McGloin returned to the Scott Stadium field on Penn States third offensive play of the second half.
What followed in the final 25 minutes of Saturdays 17-16 loss to Virginia demonstrated McGloins importance to the Nittany Lions.
The fifth-year senior, who split time with Rob Bolden the past two years, further cemented his status as Penn States No. 1 quarterback with a gritty performance.
Wearing tape around his right arm, McGloin completed 11 of 21 second-half passes for 140 yards. He finished the game 19 of 35 for 197 yards and led a turnover-free performance.
McGloin threw two touchdown passes and calmly led a drive in the final 1 1/2 minutes to put Penn State in field-goal range. The game ended with Sam Ficken missing a 42-yard field goal.
X-rays on McGloins elbow at halftime returned negative, but Coach Bill OBrien decided to begin the second half with true freshman Steven Bench before inserting McGloin on a third-and- 10 play. McGloin calmly fired a 23- yard pass to Alex Kenney.
As a competitor, you never want to be taken off the field in any situation, McGloin said.
McGloin was vague on the treatment he received yet lauded the work of trainer Tim Bream and team physician Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli. McGloin said he will play next weekend against Navy.
Its just bruised up, he said. Nothing ice and some Motrin cant fix.
Bench took all of the snaps in McGloins absence. The late addition to Penn States 2012 recruiting class completed 2 of 7 passes for 12 yards. He also rushed for 18 yards.
OBrien turned to Bench instead of strong-armed sophomore Paul Jones. OBrien said after the game that Jones is now playing F tight end and quarterback.
Bench is the second true freshman in the past three years to play quarterback for Penn State. Bolden shared the starting duties with McGloin in 2010.
He handled himself very well in the huddle and he spoke up, Kenney said of Bench. Hes very clear. He knows exactly what hes doing. Hes going to be a great player in the future.
McGloins ordeal epitomized another physically painful afternoon for the Nittany Lions (0-2). Starting tailback Bill Belton didnt make the trip because of an ankle injury. Derek Day, who started in Beltons place, returned home with his shoulder in a sling. Day said he injured the shoulder in the third quarter.
I got pinned down on the bottom of the pile, said Day, who rushed for a team-high 47 yards on 18 carries. Not exactly sure what it is.
Left tackle Donovan Smith, linebacker Nyeem Wartman and defensive end Pete Massaro also left the game with unspecified injuries.
Follow Guy Cipriano on Twitter@cdtguy.