Buckeyes Erase Fourth Quarter Deficit in Comeback Win Over Penn State
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Ohio State Buckeyes (5-0, 2-0) came to Happy Valley to face the whiteout crowd and the Penn State Nittany Lions (4-1, 1-1). Much like the last two meetings, the game was close all the way through and featured a fourth-quarter comeback. This time around the Buckeyes came out on top with a 27-26 win.
“This one hurts, we didn’t finish the game the way we should’ve finished the game,” Penn State head coach James Franklin said. “Obviously you second guess some things after a loss like that.”
In the first quarter, Penn State made promising drives, but the lone points came off of a field goal from freshman kicker Jake Pinegar from 34 yards. The Nittany Lions took a 3-0 lead to the end of the first quarter.
After an Ohio State punt pinned Penn State at their own two-yard line, the Nittany Lions found the end zone for the first time on a 92-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Trace McSorley to sophomore wide receiver KJ Hamler to jump out to a 13-0 lead.
“I didn’t feel like [we were] going to beat that type of opponent [by] kicking field goals,” Franklin said. “We had opportunities and we didn’t make plays.”
The Buckeyes responded after recovering a fumble deep in Nittany Lion territory, and they were able to cash in on a 26-yard connection between junior quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. and sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins to make the score 13-7. That score held when both teams hit the locker room for halftime.
The Buckeyes continued their scoring run in the third quarter, going right down the field on their first drive. Dobbins scored his second touchdown, this time a run from four yards out. Ohio State led 14-13, their first lead of the game with 12:22 to go in the third quarter.
“We have gone from an average football team to a good football team, to a great football team,” Franklin said. “But we aren’t an elite football team yet.”
Penn State was finally able to end their scoring drought in the fourth quarter, as freshman tight end Pat Freiermuth pulled in his first career touchdown to give the Nittany Lions the lead 20-14. The score was set up by a big gain from Hamler, who went out after being on the receiving end of a targeting call that resulted in sophomore safety Isaiah Pryor’s ejection.
The Nittany Lions doubled up on that lead with a one-yard touchdown from junior running back Miles Sanders, and extended the lead to 26-14 after a failed two-point conversion.
“Right now we’re comfortable being great,” Franklin said. “I’m going to make sure that everyone in our program is very uncomfortable [with how we are].”
The Buckeyes started their comeback with just under seven minutes to go when Haskins found junior Binjimen Victor, who was able to break away and find the end zone for a 47-yard score. The Buckeyes pulled to within one possession and trailed 26-21.
The Ohio State comeback was complete on a Haskins pass to junior wide receiver KJ Hill with just over two minutes to go, and the Buckeyes led 27-26. The Nittany Lions had one more shot to drive down the field to try and take the lead with McSorley leading the way.
The Penn State offense started to stall around midfield, and the Nittany Lions were faced with a 4th and 5 to extend the series and the game. Franklin decided to hand the ball off to Sanders, and he was stuffed behind the line for a turnover, ending the Nittany Lions shot at a comeback.
“Obviously we should’ve called something different there,” Franklin said. “I’m hurting for those guys in the locker room.”
Penn State has a week off before hosting Michigan State in two weeks at Beaver Stadium. Ohio State hosts Indiana in Columbus next week.
Joe Skinner is a sophomore broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org