STATE COLLEGE – The Penn State Nittany Lions were close to pulling off an upset against No. 2 ranked Ohio State, but in the end couldn’t finish it off. The game was an exciting once that had fans on their toes throughout. When it mattered, the Buckeyes found a way to pull away.
The Ohio State offense got off to a quick start on its first drive of the game. The possession saw a 37-yard connection through the air from C.J Stroud to Marvin Harrison Jr. on the first third down of the game. Penn State’s bend but don’t break defense showed itself soon after. With help from the crowd forcing a delay of game penalty and a stout rushing defense, the Nittany Lions would hold Ohio State to just a field goal. Ohio State 3, Penn State 0.
The Nittany Lions offense would move the ball on the ensuing drive with a couple of first-down receptions by Parker Washington. However, a Sean Clifford pass on third down would be tipped at the line and intercepted by DE Zach Harrison.
The Ohio State offense would take over at midfield. Penn State’s defense would have to hold tight again, and they did. Zakee Wheatley made a tremendous open-field tackle on third down to force a 53-yard field goal attempt by Ohio State. It would be unsuccessful, and the Penn State offense would take over at their own 35.
The Nittany Lions offense could not take advantage of an exceptional defensive effort again. Sean Clifford targeted Kaytron Allen short of the sticks, and his pass was intercepted again by J.T Tuimoloau.
The number-one-ranked scoring offense in the Big Ten came alive on the drive following Clifford’s second interception. Ohio State would score in three plays, capping it off with a four-yard rush up the middle by Miyan Williams. Ohio State 10, Penn State 0.
The second quarter would begin with a tackle for loss by Coziah Izzard on third-and-one to force an Ohio State Punt.
The Nittany Lions offense would answer in a big way. Sean Clifford found Parker Washington on a slant on third-and-four, and Washington would take it the distance for a 58-yard touchdown. Ohio State 10, Penn State 7.
The Penn State sideline had a noticeable jolt of energy and exhilaration during Parker Washington’s touchdown. The momentum likely carried over to the defense as a pair of tackle-for-losses by Dvon Ellies and Kalen King forced an Ohio State punt.
The Sean Clifford experience has been tumultuous this season and continued in this game. After his first two interceptions, Sean Clifford would follow with a crowd-surging touchdown reception to Parker Washington. Following the stout defensive effort, Sean Clifford and the Penn State offense would execute a touchdown drive in six plays. Sean Clifford made a beautiful throw to Brenton Strange on the far left sideline while on the run. He would cap it off the next play with a 23-yard reception by KeAndre Lambert Smith. Penn State 14, Ohio State 10.
After a kickoff out-of-bounds penalty and a pass interference by Joey Porter Jr, the Buckeyes’ offense would find themselves past midfield. A tackle for loss by Keaton Ellis would force a 3rd and 15. Pressure by Abdul Carter on the following play forced an incomplete pass, leading to a successful field goal attempt. Penn State 14, Ohio State 13
The second quarter would end after consecutive unsuccessful drives by both offenses.
The first drive out of halftime was all Parker Washington for the Nittany Lions offense. A tough effort after the catch on 3rd down led to a fourth down conversion and later a 27-yard reception to put them past midfield. However, the drive would stall after a failed fourth down conversion on fourth-and-2 in field goal range.
The Buckeyes’ offense would be unable to respond on the ensuing drive. Marvin Harrison J.R dropped a downfield pass off his fingertips in a reception that would’ve at least put the Buckeyes in the red zone, if not a touchdown.
Following a punt by the Nittany Lions offense, the Buckeyes would begin to march it down the field. A pair of receptions by Marvin Harrison J.R and Mitch Rossi placed the offense past midfield. However, like all game, the Buckeyes’ offense would stall near the red zone. As a result, Ohio State would have to settle for a successful field goal. Penn State 14, Ohio State 16.
After falling behind, Penn State needed a resurgence if it wanted to defeat its Big Ten rival, Ohio State. The crowd in Beaver Stadium appeared dull after a sack on Sean Clifford that forced 3rd and 16. Fans craved a momentum shift, and they received it on the very next play. Sean Clifford aired a pass to Harrison Wallace on the sideline that fell incomplete but resulted in a defensive pass interference. Parker Washington, the definite star of the game, followed it up with a big play of his own. Washington made a miraculous leaping catch on the far right sideline over his defender to put the Nittany Lions in Ohio State’s territory. Kaytron Allen would later end the drive off on a one-yard touchdown rush. Penn State 21, Ohio State 16.
No. 2 ranked Ohio State is in its position for a reason. The Buckeyes responded quickly, scoring in just three plays and taking just 35 seconds. TreVeyon Henderson rushed 41-yards to the left, outrunning safety Ji’Ayir Brown for the touchdown. Ohio State 23, Penn State 21.
The second play of the ensuing drive saw Sean Clifford get strip-sacked by J.T Tuimoloau. The play silenced the fans in Beaver Stadium. What followed was a 24-yard touchdown reception by Cade Stover, where he broke three tackles. Ohio State 30, Penn State 21.
The next Penn State drive would be do or die for the offense. Kaytron Allen began with a rush up the middle for 27 yards. The possession would end in a successful field goal by kicker Jake Pinegar. Ohio State 30, Penn State 24.
Ohio State refused to take its foot off the pedal. It would score in a hurry again, putting the dagger in the hearts of Penn State fans who began to head for the exits. TreVeyon Henderson rushed to the left for a gain of seven yards for a touchdown with two minutes left on the clock. If that weren’t enough, Sean Clifford would be intercepted by J.T Tuimoloau, who returned it for a touchdown. Sean Clifford would connect with Kaytron Allen for a touchdown in the last seconds of the game, but it was already out of arms reach.
The Nittany Lions will have a chance to rebound when they travel to Indiana to face the Hoosiers next Saturday.
Andre Monroe covers Penn State Football for Insider Institute. Follow him on Twitter @amonroe_ and Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.