Ohio State Hangs On, Penn State Offense Continues to Struggle
Both defenses were able to hold the offenses in check at Beaver Stadium on Saturday night. It was the No. 13 Ohio State Buckeyes (6-1, 3-0 BIG) defense who held firm to hold on to a 31-24 double overtime win over Penn State (4-3, 1-3 B1G).
After a 63-14 loss for Penn State against the Buckeyes last year in Columbus, neither offense was able to sustain success until late in the game.
It was the Penn State offense that was able to force overtime after trailing 17-0 at halftime.
“These ones hurt the most,” said sophomore linebacker Brandon Bell. “We just got to build off of it.”
After an Anthony Zettel pick six and a 24-yard Saeed Blacknall touchdown, the Nittany Lions found themselves starting on their own nine-yard line with left 2:58 to play.
Sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg completed nine of his 13 passes en route to a Sam Ficken 31-yard field goal to force overtime.
“Guys were fighting hard to get open,” Hackenberg said. “We gave ourselves a shot.”
Penn State started the first overtime similar to how the game was initially started. After a holding call backed Penn State up to the 35, an 18-yard pass to freshman receiver DaeSean Hamilton moved the offense in the right direction.
Hamilton finished with a season-high 14 catches to go along with 126 yards.
“We’re going to need to continue to grow his package and find ways to get him the ball because he’s proved to us he’s a playmaker,” said Franklin.
Following a few short running plays Bill Belton found the endzone on a one-yard run out of the wildcat formation, which was used only once the entire game.
Ohio State responded quickly with four plays of their own capped off by a three-yard sneak from freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett.
The Buckeyes started at the 12-yard line to begin the second overtime due to a leaping call on Penn State from the ensuing extra point attempt.
The Buckeyes scored on their fourth play of the second overtime on a J.T. Barrett 4-yard sneak. He finished with three total touchdowns on the evening.
Penn State failed to convert a fourth down pass attempt as Hackenberg was sacked by sophomore defensive end Joey Bosa. Bosa had a game-high two and a half sacks to lead the Buckeyes who finished with five total.
“We’re making progress,” Franklin said. “It may not show it on the scoreboard, but we’re making progress.”
Penn State finished the game with 16 rushing yards, the lowest total of the year for the Nittany Lions offense. The running game took a hit when senior running back Zack Zwinak was carted off on the opening kickoff with a lower leg injury.
Sophomore running back Akeel Lynch saw his production increase to complement senior Bill Belton in response to the Zwinak injury. Lynch finished with a team-high 38 rushing yards on the night.
“I was pleased with Akeel because he’s decisive,” Franklin said. “Those guys are a nice complement for us.”
Senior linebacker Mike Hull finished with a game-high 19 tackles to complement the offense for the entirety of the game.
“When you’re that close, you look back at a couple plays,” said Hull. “I really think we kind of dropped the ball in overtime as a defense.”
Controversy, however, surrounded the game from the first drive on.
A Vonn Bell interception was upheld despite replays throughout the stadium showing the ball hit the ground. Replay equipment was not functioning properly and led to the call appearing to be wrong on the field.
“The play technically was not thoroughly reviewed due to some technical difficulties with the equipment,” referee John O’Neill said. “The replay rules are clear that we have to use the equipment provided.”
Another sequence in the second quarter created even more controversy with the officiating crew.
The game clock on the television feed read zero before freshman kicker Sean Nuernberger converted a 49-yard field goal to give Ohio State a 10-0 lead.
“That is not reviewable in terms of when the ball is snapped in relationship to the zeros on the clock,” official Tom Fielder said.
(Photo Credit: AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Ryan Stevens is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism
Ryan is a senior from Bloomington, Illinois majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in english. He has been involved with numerous radio shows, play-by-plays, beat writes and producing various Penn State athletics events since his first days of being on campus in the fall of 2012 with ComRadio. Since the fall of 2013, Ryan has been involved with State College’s ESPN Radio 1450 as an assistant producer intern and high school football reporter.
During the summer of 2014, Ryan co-hosted Sports Central with Cory Giger streaming over Altoona, Pa. and State College Pa. markets. Ryan also assisted USA Basketball media coverage in New York for World Cup of Basketball exhibition games.
Ryan was the marketing & communications intern for USA Track & Field at the national office in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was the media contact for the 2015 USATF Hershey Youth Outdoor Championships as well as the 2015 National Junior Olympics.