Former Penn State QB Matt McGloin enjoys winning debut for New York Guardians in XFL

Centre Daily Times (TNS)
Matt McGloin is shown here during his days with the Oakland Raiders.
  • Matt McGloin led the New York Guardians to a 23-3 XFL win vs. Tampa Bay on Sunday.
  • The former Penn State quarterback finished 15 of 29 for 182 yards and a touchdown.
  • The 30-year-old McGloin had been out of football since 2018.

Matt McGloin’s still got it.

Despite being out of football since 2018 — when he was released by the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs in September — the former Penn State quarterback impressed Sunday in his XFL debut by going 15 of 29 passing for 182 yards and a touchdown while running for another score. His New York Guardians, a three-point Vegas underdog, stunned the Tampa Bay Vipers, 23-3.

“A lot of emotions,” McGloin told FOX’s sideline reporter during the pregame. “And seeing my family in the stands — it doesn’t get better than that.”

The 30-year-old signal caller didn’t wow the MetLife Stadium crowd of 17,634 with his arm strength but, in true McGloin-like fashion, it was his poise under pressure and clutch play that made him so successful.

Making immediate impact: The former Nittany Lion, known for his moxie, made his presence felt immediately. On the opening drive, on fourth-and-4, McGloin found his tight end over the middle for a 15-yard gain. Three plays later, on third-and-7, his spiraling over-the-shoulder toss found Joe Horn for 18 yards to put the Guardians just 6 yards shy of the end zone.

McGloin rumbled in for the touchdown on a QB sneak after a pass-interference call. So, early in the game, his head coach didn’t have many complaints.

“I think he’s done a great job,” Kevin Gilbride, the New York Giants’ former offensive coordinator, said on the FOX broadcast in the second quarter. “He’s seeing where the pressures are coming from. I think he’s identified where those things are, directed our protection the way it needs to be. He’s made some terrific throws.”

Passing exploits: McGloin’s first passing touchdown came on the Guardians’ third drive, when a 45-yard completion set up a short field. On the next play, on first-and-10 from the 12, McGloin read the free-safety blitz and floated it in the end zone to a wide-open Colby Pearson.

The Penn State grad, who worked in a broadcasting role this past season for the Penn State Radio Network and GoPSUSports, even finished the end of the first half with a 32-yard pass that set up a 49-yard field goal. McGloin’s Guardians led 17-0 at halftime.

Not all highlights: But it wasn’t all highlights for McGloin and the Guardians. McGloin underthrew a number of passes, and his teammates dropped some catchable balls. In other words, despite the big win, New York’s offense was inconsistent.

In the fourth quarter, McGloin underthrew a catchable touchdown to Pearson, who just couldn’t come up with the potential 39-yard completion. One play later, on third-and-long, McGloin threw another catchable ball — slightly behind Horn — that wasn’t pulled in. New York punted.

It wasn’t a perfect day for the Nittany Lions’ former quarterback, who last played for PSU in 2012 and went from college walk-on to undrafted NFL free agent. But he outplayed Tampa Bay QB Aaron Murray, a former fifth-round draft pick from Georgia, and committed no turnovers. (Murray tossed two interceptions, one TD and 231 yards.)

Moving on: McGloin will look to keep his team’s perfect 1-0 record intact when it takes on the D.C. Defenders (1-0) at 2 p.m. Saturday at Audi Field. The eight-team league will play 10 games in the regular season with the postseason kicking off April 18.

“A lot of good and a lot of things we need to improve on,” McGloin said when asked to evaluate the Guardians’ performance. “But there were flashes out there.”