Drawbacks in Penn State’s Consistency Contribute to a Halloweekend Loss to Ohio State

Story posted October 31, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Emma Holtz

COLUMBUS, OHIO-- The Shoe, shrouded in scarlet smoke, housed a physical battle between the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes and No. 20 Penn State Nittany Lions on Halloween eve.

Despite being handed its third consecutive loss after starting strong on a 5-0 run, the Blue and White only lost by nine points and disproved anticipations for a blowout by the Buckeyes with a score of 33-24.

The Nittany Lions’ performance against Ohio State was reminiscent of the beginning stages of the season where the defense came out swinging and the offense consistently put points on the board.

Unfortunately, the all-too-forgetful games against Iowa and record-setting nine overtime loss to Illinois in Beaver Stadium on Oct. 23 set back the Nittany Lions’ playoff hopes to wishing for a bowl game bid.

An addition to the Penn State offense that was absent against Illinois was the return of a healthy Sean Clifford at the helm.

Clifford looked dainty on the run against Illinois, but a much different Clifford came to play in the Shoe. Clifford logged 361 yards with a 67% completion percentage. Penn State head coach James Franklin said that Clifford’s health was one of the biggest differences in the game.

“I thought he battled,” Franklin said. “He took some shots. He made some big-time throws in traffic.”

Penn State running back John Lovett said that Clifford put in extra work in practice during the week’s preparation for their state border rivals. Lovett led Penn State’s rushing core with 13 carries for 20 yards.

The Nittany Lions converted 11-of-18 on third downs and mixed the run game and passing game on each possession. Star wide receiver Jahan Dotson managed the passing offense with 127 yards but was unable to find the end zone.

Turnovers came to haunt the Blue and White with a costly fumble and interception by Clifford that resulted in a touchdown and field goal respectively for Ohio State.

Consistency proved to be a cruel trick rather than a treat for Penn State. Franklin said that for the team to win on the road, consistency in play execution and minimization of turnovers needed to be polished.

Lovett emphasized the learning opportunity that the loss provided to the Nittany Lions after a physical battle on the field.

“We didn’t get the outcome we wanted but as an offense, we definitely got better from last week,” Lovett said. “That’s the goal to get better every single week.”

Emma Holtz is a second-year majoring in public relations. To contact her, email exh5337@psu.edu