Nittany Lions Fall to Buckeyes in White House, 35-23

Story posted October 28, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio by Jared Abbott

Under the lights at Beaver Stadium Saturday night, the Ohio State Buckeyes (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) outdueled the Penn State Nittany Lions (5-3, 3-1 Big Ten) 35-23.

As thousands of fans donning their white Penn State attire entered the White House, the sky above resembled the night’s theme. With white clouds rolling over the hills into Happy Valley, it appeared that anywhere an Ohio State player would look, they would see white.

However, by game’s end the sky would be dark and the curtain would have fallen on head coach Bill O’Brien’s Nittany Lions. The first-year head coach got his first taste of the Penn State-Ohio State rivalry, but didn’t quite seem ready to take down the Buckeyes.

“I didn't do a very good job tonight as the head football coach,” said O’Brien.

The usually aggressive Lions offense seemed timid and reserved at times, especially on third down where they converted just 5-of-17 times. The offense spent just 5:53 on the field in the 1st quarter, punting in all three drives, including two three-and-outs.

Despite the offense’s struggles, Linebacker U lived up to its name defensively, pressuring the Buckeyes early. Ohio State was forced to punt on its first six possessions, and had to start those drives inside their own 20 four times.

The first quarter was filled with sloppy play and missed opportunities from both sides. Safety Steven Obeng-Agyapong missed an easy interception less than five minutes into the game after reading quarterback Braxton Miller’s eyes and jumping the route. Later on the same drive, Miller overthrew a receiver wide open down the right side, which would have resulted in an easy touchdown.

After multiple dropped interceptions and overthrown passes, the sloppiness would finally bite the Buckeyes. On a night when special teams would play a pivotal role, neither team punted particularly well. Backed up on their own 14-yard line, Ohio State punter Ben Buchanan looked to quickly release the ball, but wasn’t quick enough. Linebacker Mike Hull, who plays a unheralded role as a great special teams player, blocked the punt, causing a roar from the crowd.

“It was pretty awesome blocking the punt,” said Hull. “As soon as you break free, your heart starts pumping and you just want to help out your team.”

Fifth-year senior linebacker Michael Yancich fell on the ball in the end zone for his first career touchdown. Making a game-changing play in front of 107,818 screaming fans was a lifetime memory for Yancich.

“It was a truly tremendous feeling,” said Yancich. “Words can't describe what was going through my mind and my body as I was getting up.”

After the blocked punt, Penn State seemed to have all the momentum as the crowd was rocking. Ohio State's offensive players noticeably struggled in the first half with the roaring student section in their ears every snap. Helping excite the crowd was the play of senior linebackers Gerald Hodges and Michael Mauti. Hodges led the way with 14 total tackles and a sack, with Mauti right behind him totaling 13 stops.

Linebacker U’s finest was controlling the play until the final drive of the half. After playing as well as the defense did in the first two quarters, going into the half tied 7-7 was a bit of a letdown. Ohio State took over with 6:06 left in the second quarter right after their special teams blunder. Braxton Miller and running back Carlos Hyde pounded the ball on the ground, including Miller’s 33-yard scamper to the Penn State 6. Three plays later Hyde punched in the equalizer from one yard out left 0:34 left in the half.

The second half was a completely different story and you could tell right away which team was going to take over. After deferring in the first half, the Nittany Lions got the ball to start the thirdquarter. On the return, Bill Belton had troubling handling the ball and only got out to the 11-yard line. Following a run, McGloin was sacked back at the Penn State 8-yard line, leaving a third down and long.

The next play shifted the momentum so far in Ohio State’s favor that Penn State wouldn’t be able to recover. McGloin threw an interception to Buckeye linebacker Ryan Shazier, who returned it 17 yards for a touchdown.

After the pick six, the Buckeye running game took over, controlling the tempo and tiring the Lions’ defense. Braxton Miller led the way rushing 25 times for 134 yards and 2 touchdowns. Hyde added 55 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. The Buckeyes totaled 234 yards on the ground, compared to the Lions’ 32 yards.

Matt McGloin threw for a career-high 327 yards, tying Kerry Collins for the most 300-yard passing games in school history with four.

McGloin and the Nittany Lions look to get back on track next Saturday on the road at Purdue (3-5, 0-4 Big Ten) at 3:30 p.m. That game will be broadcast live from West Lafeyette on ComRadio. Tune in at psucomradio.com.

Jared Abbott is a senior majoring in Broadcast Journalism and Psychology and is a ComRadio News Director. To contact him, email: jda5104@psu.edu.