The Penn State Nittany Lions (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) returned a blocked field goal for a touchdown and took down the second-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes (6-1, 3-1), 24-21. Here are the game’s “Cheers and jeers.”
Return of Bell and Cabinda— Linebackers Brandon Bell and Jason Cabinda made their returns to the Nittany Lions’ defense after being out since Game One and Two of the season, respectively. Bell and Cabinda made their presence known early and often throughout the night in a Penn State defense that direly needed the depth at linebacker. The duo combined for 31 tackles and two sacks on the evening.
Trace McSorley soars (and scores) with arm and legs— Redshirt sophomore quarterback Trace McSorley became the first Penn State quarterback since 2012 and Matt McGloin to rush and throw for a touchdown in the same game for three straight games. McSorley finished with 63 yards on the ground and 154 yards through the air.
Defense and special teams come up big— Ohio State came into Saturday night’s contest averaging 49.3 points per game on the season, yet the Nittany Lions held the Buckeyes to just 21 points. The Penn State defense benefited largely from the return of Bell and Cabinda, but it was the performance of defensive end Garrett Sickels in the second half that helped keep the Ohio State offense at bay. Sickels, who was suspended for the first half for an undisclosed reason, finished with nine tackles and two-and-a-half sacks on the night.
A blocked field goal taken 60 yards for a touchdown gave Penn State the lead with 4:27 left in the game.
Inability to sustain drives— While the defense held up its end of the bargain, the Nittany Lions’ offense struggled to sustain drives throughout the game. The offense marched down the field in eight plays on the opening drive of the game, but it resulted in a blocked field goal. Aside from the seven-play touchdown drive at the end of the first half, the Nittany Lions were unable to get more than seven plays on 11 of 15 total drives.
Miscues turning into points— Ohio State took advantage of Penn State’s special teams miscues, and it paid dividends on the scoreboard. John Reid muffed a punt late in the first quarter, and the Buckeyes converted the good field position into a field goal to give the early lead to the road team. Early in the third quarter, long snapper Tyler Yazujian sailed a snap over punter Blake Gillikin’s head into the end zone for a safety.
Highlight of the Game
Plays don't get much bigger than this @PennStateFball one.
— Penn State On BTN (@PennStateOnBTN) October 23, 2016
The highlight of the game comes from cornerback Grant Haley. No description necessary.
Penn State hits the road next weekend to take on the Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday at 12 p.m. EDT. The Boilermakers come into the Big Ten conference game off a 49-35 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday afternoon. Purdue sits at 3-3 on the season and 1-2 in the Big Ten.
With the victory over Ohio State, the Nittany Lions move to 5-2 on the season and 3-1 in the Big Ten.
Image credit: Centre Daily Times