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Penn State Pulls Off Miraculous 24-21 Upset Over No. 2 Ohio State

James Franklin’s Nittany Lions pulled off the mother of all upsets Saturday night under White Out conditions, topping No. 2 Ohio State 24-21. Penn State (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) snapped Urban Meyer’s perfect 20-0 road record with the Buckeyes.

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions knew how big this game was and didn’t hesitate to make a statement early. Two momentum swinging plays put Penn State deep in Ohio State territory, but the sparkplug offense wasn’t able to keep the drive alive. A 39-yard field goal attempt by Tyler Davis was hit low and blocked. But the Penn State defense held strong. The two teams traded punts after each recording three an outs in a scoreless period early in the first quarter.

Saquon Barkley got the crowd on its feet with another long run to set the Lions up over the 50. Unfortunately, that drive also stalled after a failed reverse backed the Lions up roughly 15 yards. Blake Gillikin’s knuckleball punt was muffed by Dontre Wilson. Ohio State was able to recover, but could only muster another three and out. Muffs became the theme of the quarter after John Reid muffed the ensuing punt — with Ohio State falling on the ball. The ensuing Buckeye drive resulted in a field goal, but not after the Lions managed to hold Ohio State scoreless in a quarter for the first time all season.

The Lions seemed hesitant to ride Barkley after opting to let McSorley operate with his legs. At the 10-minute mark in the second quarter, Barkley only tallied five carries despite leading the team in yardage with 51 on the ground. The Buckeyes scored the first touchdown of the game after Marcus Baugh spun and broke a pair of tackles on his way to the endzone after the feed from Barrett. The extra point wouldn’t have such luck after Durbin hooked it left. Ohio State took a 9-0 lead with less than five minutes to go in the second half. The two traded blows before Ohio State marched down on the Lions again thanks to a wizard-like escape by J.T. Barrett to pick up a key first down. The Buckeyes had to settle for a 30-yard chip shot to take a 12-0 lead.

But you can’t count out the Lions. Trace McSorley led his team down the field in commanding fashion before finding Chris Godwin on a fade route in the corner of the endzone to bring the Lions within four just before the half.

The Nittany Lion defense carried its momentum into the second half forcing Ohio State into a key three and out with a sack around Barrett’s blind side. A spell of bad luck hit the Lions after Curtis Samuel’s 74-yard touchdown run was followed up by a high snap that punter Blake Gillikin recovered in the endzone for a safety.

Penn State held the Buckeyes for the remainder of the quarter and forced the Buckeyes to punt it back to start the fourth quarter. The Lions capped off arguably the best drive of the game with a long Barkley run followed by a bomb to Blacknall that set up the offense right on the five. Trace McSorley then did what he always does and pounded it in himself, becoming the first Penn State quarterback since Matt McGloin to have a rushing and passing touchdown in three consecutive contests.

The Lions blew the roof off the place after freshman linebacker Cam Brown blocked the Ohio State punt. Botched blocking assignments led to a costly sack and burned timeout, forcing the Lions to settle for a 34-yard field goal to make it 21-17 Ohio State.

Junior corner Grant Haley brought the house down as he scooped up Marcus Allen’s blocked field goal and scored a 60-yard touchdown that would be the eventual game-winner. The Buckeyes couldn’t get much going on offense with their backs against the wall, and Barrett would be sacked on back-to-back plays to seal the upset. McSorley took a trio of knees and fans poured over the railings and onto the field.

Player Of The Game

Grant Haley | Junior | Cornerback

We could’ve given this distinction to any number of Nittany Lions, but Haley’s scoop-and-score was undoubtedly the play of the season.

What’s Next?

Penn State will hit the road for a noon clash with Purdue this coming Saturday at Ross-Ade Stadium.

About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected]


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