UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – For the second year in a row, Ohio State came back from a multi-score deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat Penn State in an instant classic.
The Buckeyes scored two touchdowns in the game’s final seven minutes to come back from a 12-point deficit and defeat the Nittany Lions, 27-26, silencing a record crowd of 110,889 at Beaver Stadium to improve to 5-0 on the season.
|#4 OHIO STATE||0||7||7||13||27|
Penn State was dominant for most of the first half of Saturday’s game, out-gaining Ohio State by 200 yards (293 to 93) in the first 30 minutes. Ohio State’s offense was forced to punt on seven of its first eight possessions, and turned the ball over on the other, when a Dwayne Haskins pass went off of Rashod Berry’s hands and was intercepted by Penn State safety Garrett Taylor.
Despite a spectacular 31-yard one-handed catch by Juwan Johnson on Penn State’s opening possession, a 51-yard run by Trace McSorley on the Nittany Lions’ second possession and Taylor’s 45-yard interception return to the 28-yard line, Ohio State was able to hold the Nittany Lions to field goal attempts after each of those big plays, and Jake Pinegar only made two out of three, limiting Penn State’s lead to 6-0 through its first six series.
On Penn State’s seventh possession of the game, however, Ohio State’s defense surrendered its second 93-yard touchdown in three weeks when Penn State wide receiver KJ Hamler beat Shaun Wade in the slot and caught Isaiah Pryor out of position to break away from the Buckeyes and run all the way to the end zone, tying the longest play ever allowed by Ohio State’s defense and extending Penn State’s advantage to 13-0 with 5:59 to play in the second quarter.
The Buckeyes finally swung the momentum of the game in their favor with less than three minutes to play in the first half, when Tuf Borland forced a Miles Sanders fumble and Dre’Mont Jones recovered it at the 25-yard line. Two plays later, J.K. Dobbins took a short pass from Haskins 26 yards into the end zone to cut Penn State’s lead to six points before halftime.
That gave the Buckeyes the opportunity to take the lead after receiving the opening kickoff of the second half, and they took advantage, driving 75 yards on 13 plays for the go-ahead touchdown. After barely converting a 4th-and-1 to keep the drive alive, Dobbins capped the drive by running for the score from four yards out.
Ohio State put together another promising drive on its next possession, but that drive stalled after a 4-yard loss on a K.J. Hill direct snap run and a false start penalty against Thayer Munford. Ultimately, the Buckeyes settled for a 33-yard field goal attempt, which Sean Nuernberger converted – but a facemask penalty nullified that kick, and Nuernberger missed his subsequent 48-yard attempt.
Ohio State was able to retain its 14-13 lead for one more defensive series and into the fourth quarter when Chase Young got the Buckeyes off the field by swatting down a McSorley pass attempt on 4th-and-1 on Penn State’s final possession of the third quarter.
Following a 3-and-out by Ohio State on its subsequent possession, however, the Nittany Lions took advantage of their next opportunity to retake the lead, driving 73 yards on six plays to take a 20-14 lead with 12:22 left to play. A 36-yard pass from McSorley to Hamler, followed by a targeting penalty against Ohio State safety Isaiah Pryor, set the Nittany Lions up at the 15-yard line; two plays later, McSorley completed a two-yard touchdown pass to Pat Freiermuth.
|Ohio State||Penn State|
|389||NET TOTAL YARDS||492|
|3.2||AVERAGE PER RUSH||4.7|
|12.3||AVERAGE PER COMPLETION||17.9|
|8||RUSHING 1st DOWNS||9|
|11||PASSING 1st DOWNS||9|
|2||PENALTY 1st DOWNS||4|
|5.1||YARDS PER PLAY||6.5|
Ohio State went for it on 4th-and-1 from the 48-yard line on its next offensive possession, but Haskins was stopped on an attempt to run the ball up the middle. Penn State took advantage of the short field and drove 52 yards for its second straight trip to the end zone, capped by a 1-yard Sanders touchdown run to extend the Nittany Lions’ lead to 26-14 with eight minutes to play.
Binjimen Victor responded back with a spectacular play on Ohio State’s next possession, however, catching a high throw from Haskins and weaving his way around several Penn State defenders to score a 47-yard touchdown, cutting the Nittany Lions’ lead to 26-21 with 6:42 to play.
The Buckeyes were able to force a punt on Penn State’s ensuing possession, giving the Buckeyes the ball back at their own 4-yard line with 4:35 to play.
Dobbins gained 35 yards on a catch-and-run to start Ohio State’s ensuing drive, and Hill finished the drive by scoring a 24-yard touchdown on a pass from Haskins, as the Buckeyes went 96 yards in just eight plays to take a 27-26 lead over Penn State with just 2:03 remaining.
Penn State still had a chance to win the game, and McSorley started the potential game-winning drive by completing a 27-yard pass to Freiermuth. But the Nittany Lions wouldn’t get another first down, as Young buried Sanders for a two-yard loss on the 4th-and-5 that Penn State needed to extend the game.
Ohio State will look to improve to 6-0 next Saturday against Indiana. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.
- Terry McLaurin, Isaiah Prince, Tuf Borland and Jordan Fuller were the game captains for Saturday night's coin toss.
- Davon Hamilton made his second consecutive start at defensive tackle in place of Robert Landers. Landers did play in the game even though he did not start.
- Haskins, Isaiah Prince, Victor and Penn State defensive end Shareef Miller were all penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct for a scuffle following Taylor's 45-yard interception return.
- Teradja Mitchell was penalized for a personal foul on Penn State's opening kickoff return of the second half.
- Ohio State’s defense has held its opponent scoreless on the opening possession in all five games thus far.
- Dobbins’ second-quarter touchdown reception was the second of his career.
- Hill has multiple receptions in all five games this season.
- Drue Chrisman set career highs for number of punts and punting yards.
- Urban Meyer is now 48-3 in Big Ten games since 2012.
- Ohio State owns an all-time record of 8-6 at Beaver Stadium with three wins in the last four trips.