STATE COLLEGE —
Undisciplined, out of luck and out of time.
Penn State turned in an uncharacteristically uneven performance to bring its five-game winning streak to a screeching halt in a 35-23 loss Saturday night to No. 9 Ohio State.
Star quarterback Braxton Miller was a one-man offense with 134 rushing yards and two touchdowns for the Buckeyes (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten), but Penn State (5-3, 3-1) had itself to blame, too.
With a chance to make a statement in front of a national television audience, in a season of change for a program trying to rebound from the wreckage left by the Jerry Sandusky scandal, the Nittany Lions lost.
“It starts with me. I didn’t do a very good job tonight as the head football coach,” Penn State’s Bill O’Brien said. “We made mistakes, but we win as a team, we lose a team and it starts with me.”
Some of Penn State’s nine penalties sapped momentum at critical spots, including a questionable defensive holding call that turned an Ohio State punt from its own 27 into a second chance and a touchdown.
A foiled fake punt attempt by Penn State at midfield led to the first of Miller’s two 1-yard scoring runs. A Penn State 2-point conversion try in the fourth quarter was stuffed.
And O’Brien’s uptempo “NASCAR” offense couldn’t get on track under withering pressure from an Ohio State front seven that didn’t give quarterback Matt McGloin much time to throw.
“It was just one of those nights, I guess. We just didn’t have it I guess. We can’t focus on the loss now,” said McGloin, who finished 27 of 45 for a career-high 327 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Boy, was it a big one.
A momentum-killer on the opening drive of the third quarter after linebacker Ryan Shazier returned the pick 17 yards for a score and 14-7 Buckeyes lead. The touchdown came one play after Shazier sacked McGloin, one of four times that the Buckeyes officially got to the quarterback on the night.
Unofficially, McGloin had Buckeyes defenders in his face much of the night. And Penn State couldn’t get much going on the ground either. Zach Zwinak had a team-high 42 yards on 12 carries, ending Penn State’s streak of three games with a 100-yard rusher.
A missed opportunity on Penn State’s first offensive series foreshadowed the theme for the rest of the evening, after a pass deep to open receiver Allen Robinson was dropped by the normally sure-handed sophomore. Hang on to that ball and Robinson would have an easy jaunt to the end zone.
“Those are the things that are going to stop a drive from stringing plays together,” Zwinak said about the penalties and missed opportunities. “But again, you have to let them go and just go on to then next game. You can’t let it bring the team down.”
The Nittany Lions had turned an 0-2 start into a reason for Nittany Lions fans to get excited about football again.
It felt like a big game in Happy Valley, something many thought wouldn’t happen this year after Penn State was hit with crippling NCAA sanctions for the Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.
But the Nittany Lions weren’t quite ready to step up in competition.
McGloin and Penn State rolled to an 18-play touchdown drive that he finished with a 2-yard pass to Matt Lehman to make it 28-16 with 9:49 left in the fourth quarter. The 2-point conversion try was stopped.
With plenty of time to pull off a comeback, the Penn State crowd roared and waved pom-poms as Ohio State started its next drive backed up to its 8.
But Miller connected with receiver Jake Stoneburner in stride over the middle for a 72-yard touchdown to make it 35-16.
The Nittany Lions added one more touchdown, almost as a thank you to all of the fans – and there were plenty in the crowd of 107,818 – who stayed to the end.
The Penn State players appreciated the gesture from a fan base that has fervently backed them all season – even though they couldn’t thank them back with a win.
“It was an amazing atmosphere,” said linebacker Gerald Hodges, who finished with a game-high 14 tackles and a sack. “Things didn’t go our way but the fans stayed by our side throughout the whole game.”
STATE COLLEGE —
Undisciplined, out of luck and out of time.
- Local Sports
Pirates rally to keep sweep
Taking the extra base was the key for the Pittsburgh Pirates in completing a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Rockies 5-3 Sunday.
AAABA League playoffs: Laurel Auto Group moves closer to advancing
Second-seeded Laurel Auto Group fell behind early against No. 3 Berkley Hills Renegades on Sunday afternoon at Roxbury Park. But Laurel’s players didn’t lose their composure.
Urtz, Pope lead AAABA League award votes
Logan Urtz hadn’t fielded a ground ball as an infielder or swung a bat in a game for a couple seasons.
But you can’t take the former infielder out of a starting pitcher.
Polanco, Walker lift Pirates over Dodgers
Gregory Polanco broke out of a slump with a solo home run and a tiebreaking two-run single, lifting the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 12-7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.
Polanco, hitting just .133 in his previous 11 games, smacked a bases-loaded single with two outs in the sixth to put Pittsburgh in front for good.
ACC schools get optimism from stability
Welcome to the new Atlantic Coast Conference.
It’s where a founding member is out, a fast-rising program is in, Notre Dame is there, too – sort of – and nobody else is leaving.
Martella’s sweeps past Delweld
A six-run rally in the first helped guide Martella’s Pharmacy to an 8-1 win over Delweld in Game 3 of their best-of-5 AAABA League semifinal series at Point Stadium, sweeping the series in the process.
That rally also continued season-long trends for the clubs, according to their respective managers.
Warshel selecting UPJ
For Kelci Warshel, the call to attend Pitt-Johnstown was based on the availability of her desired major – nursing.
Taking an opportunity to join the university’s women’s track and field program was a very nice add-on and one that the Richland High graduate is ready to jump into ...
... Or hurdle over.
Rallying Dodgers snap Pirates’ win streak at 3 games
Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven strong innings, Adrian Gonzalez reached base five times and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Monday night.
Ryu (11-5) joined Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in making the Dodgers the first team in the majors with three 11-game winners.
Pitt picked sixth in cluttered Coastal
Florida State was an obvious choice as a favorite in one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s divisions.
In the other one, the pecking order was nowhere near that clear.
- Local Sports Briefs
- More Local Sports Headlines
- Pirates rally to keep sweep