STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – It ended in a hurry.
What once looked like it would be a comfortable victory quickly turned into a stunning 24-21 loss for Ohio State on Saturday night when Penn State scored 17 unanswered points over the last quarter and a half.
And the play that turned into the game-winning touchdown for Penn State started out with Ohio State being in a bit of a hurry.
With a 21-17 lead with less than five minutes to play, OSU looked like it rushed kicker Tyler Durbin onto the field to attempt a career-long 45-yard field goal.
It turned into a disastrous play when Penn State’s Marcus Allen blocked the kick and Grant Haley recovered it and ran 60 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 4:27 left in the game.
The blocked field goal attempt was the second special teams collapse in the fourth quarter by the Buckeyes. With 11:42 to play, Cam Brown blocked a Cameron Johnston punt and the Nittany Lions turned that into a field goal that cut Ohio State’s lead to 21-17.
It was the first loss for No. 2 Ohio State (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten). It also ended a 20-game winning streak on opponents’ home fields by OSU.
For Penn State (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten), it was a signature victory for the Nittany Lions and coach James Franklin, even though Franklin said after the game he doesn’t like that term.
Ohio State outgained Penn State 413 yards to 276 yards of total offense, but the Buckeyes’ offense didn’t make plays when it needed them and the defense allowed big plays at crucial times.
“Offensively, we didn’t control the line of scrimmage,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “He (Barrett) was under pressure on pass plays and we didn’t move them off the line of scrimmage on running plays.
“Every goal we have is still alive. We’re not a great team now. We’ve got to regroup, get some guys healthy and keep swinging,” he said.
Ohio State appeared close to taking control of the game twice, but both times Penn State responded with quick-strike long drives.
The Buckeyes had increased a 12-7 halftime lead to 14 points at 21-7 with 8:31 left in the third quarter on a 74-yard touchdown run by Curtis Samuel and a safety when Penn State’s long snapper sailed the ball over the punter’s head an into the end zone.
But the Nittany Lions got their crowd back into the game in a hurry when they went 90 yards in five plays to cut the lead to 21-14 on a 2-yard run by McSorley with 13:32 left to play.
A 37-yard run by Barkley and a 35-yard pass to Saeed Blacknall were the big plays in the drive.
That drive mirrored a Penn State drive in the final minute of the first half after OSU had gone up 12-0 with 1:14 left in the half when the Nittany Lions went 74 yards in a minute to cut the lead to 12-7.
Ohio State’s last chance showed how completely the game turned after it had gone up 21-7.
On the Buckeyes’final four plays, Barrett threw two incompletions and was sacked twice. Penn State then ran out the clock to seal its big win.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley was 8 of 23 for 154 yards and a touchdown. Tailback Saquon Barkley rushed for 99 yards on 12 carries.
For Ohio State, Samuel rushed for 71 yards on two carries and caught 8 passes for 68 yards. Mike Weber rushed for 71 yards on 21 carries. Barrett was 28 of 43 for 245 yards and a touchdown.
Samuel didn’t touch the football for the first time until 9:15 was left in the first half and had only 10 touches overall (two runs and eight passes).
“We probably have to get him more than that,” Meyer said.
Meyer said he had confidence in Durbin to hit a 45-yard field goal under pressure even though he had never kicked one in a game from more than 40 yards.
“He hits that easily in practice. I can’t tell if he kicked it low or what,” the OSU coach said.
Overall, Ohio State had three obvious mistakes in special teams. What appeared to be a problem with the snap resulted in a missed extra point by Durbin in the first half.
Both teams rediscovered their offenses in the last 10 minutes of the first half after the only score in the first 20 minutes was an Ohio State field goal on the first play of the second quarter.
The Buckeyes dodged trouble early when Penn State got to their 22-yard line on its first possession of the game, but Tyler Davis’ 39-yard field goal attempt was blocked.
What they had more trouble avoiding, though, was bad field position. Three of Ohio State’s first five drives started at its own 4-yard line, 8-yard line and 11-yard line. A scoreless first quarter was the first time OSU was held scoreless in a quarter this season.
Durbin’s 33-yard field goal, which got OSU on the scoreboard, was set up when Penn State’s John Reid fumbled a punt at the Nittany Lions’ 38-yard line and Terry McLaurin recovered.
Barrett’s contributions in the passing game and running game were keys in two Ohio State scores in the final five minutes of the first half.
His 26-yard touchdown pass to tight end Marcus Baugh, who spun away from a defender and narrowly avoided stepping out of bounds on the play put Ohio State up 9-0 with 4:53 left in the first half. The extra point kick was no good after a problem with the snap.
Then, on OSU’s next time with the ball, he scrambled out of the grasp of a Penn State rusher for 19 yards and hit McLaurin with a pass for another 19 yards to set up a 30-yard field goal by Durbin for a 12-0 Ohio State lead with 1:14 left in the first half.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.
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