With all odds stacked against them, the Nittany Lions created opportunity where there seemed to be none, and stayed motivated even when things seemed hopeless. It was this kind of determination that allowed this young, driven team to take down one of the most legendary teams in college football.
“You know, obviously these types of wins are important,” said Head Coach James Franklin of the incredible win. “To be honest with you, I don’t really want to spend a whole lot of time thinking about the big picture right now. I just want to soak this all in… I told these guys in the locker room… savor it.”
With a total attendance of just over 107,200 fans in Beaver Stadium plus the hype of the whiteout and evening time slot, this game had all the makings of being one for the books.
Penn State came out strong in the first quarter, but the Lions’ first attempt at a field goal was blocked. A combination of a punt, touchdown, and field goal allowed Ohio State to gain the lead of 12-0, and things looked questionable heading into halftime.
That is, until quarterback Trace McSorley (Ashburn, Va.) launched a 34 yard pass to DaeSean Hamilton (Fredericksburg, Va.) to set up the Lions for a touchdown, which was caught thanks to a 20 yard pass from McSorley right into the hands of a heavily defended Chris Godwin (Middletown, Del.).
Heading into the half, Penn State trailed OSU, 12-7.
The second half started out rough, with Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett passing to Curtis Samuel, who then found a hole in the defense large enough to grant him a 74 yard touchdown.
Then, a high snap resulted in a safety for Ohio State, but incredible athleticism by kicker Blake Gillikin (Smyrna, Ga.) allowed him to beat out an OSU player in a footrace to recover the ball. A touchdown would have been far, far worse.
The fans never lost hope. In fact, they just got louder as the game went on. It was easy to see that the high decibel of noise was getting to Ohio State. The Buckeyes had to resort to individual audibles before a play and wasting timeouts just to overcome the noise and clarify their plays.
Just as it seemed Ohio State might be gaining traction, Penn State scored a touchdown. After driving down the field from the PSU 10 yard line, Saquon Barkley (Coplay, Pa.) received a pass from McSorley and made a staggering 37 yard run to put Penn State in a great position to score.
At the Buckeye’s second yard line, McSorley was looking for the open player, but then, seeing none, ran the ball in himself, just making it over the right pylon to bring the score within one touchdown, 21-14.
This touchdown caused Beaver Stadium to erupt with energy, and the momentum swing was obvious.
It was special teams and defense, who saw the return of Captain Brandon Bell (Mays Landing, N.J.) and standout Jason Cabinda (Flemington, N.J.) who helped lead the team to victory thanks to strong and intelligent leadership.
Cam Brown (Burtonsville, Md.) blocked a punt by Ohio State, which opened up the opportunity for Penn State to kick a field goal, bringing the Lions so close to victory that the electricity was tangible, 21-17.
In an amazing turn of events, safety Marcus Allen (Upper Marlboro, Md.) blocked the Buckeyes’ next attempt to kick a field goal, and the ball was scooped up by Grant Haley (Atlanta, Ga.), who ran 60 yards to score the winning touchdown for the Nittany Lions.
Haley was hotly pursued as he sprinted down the field, but ultimately beat out two Ohio State defenders as he collapsed into the end zone, overcome with joy.
A successful field goal by Tyler Davis (St. Charles, Ill.) brought the score to a Penn State lead, 24-21.
Perhaps the most important plays of the game, however, were the final two downs for Ohio State, when Evan Schwan (Harrisburg, Pa.) and Garrett Sickels (Red Bank, N.J.) sacked Barrett on both the third and fourth downs, giving Penn State the ball for the win.
The crowd erupted at a whole new level of excitement. Beaver Stadium was quaking with energy.
With three timeouts left for Penn State and a minute left on the clock, and the Buckeyes’ only having one timeout, all there was left to do was to take a knee.
Fireworks went off and students stormed the field to celebrate the win of the century for Penn State. The crowd, the community, and the team had just taken down the No. 2 team in the country, and also dealt Ohio State coach Urban Meyer his first ever away game loss.
The Nittany Lions take on Purdue next Saturday away at noon for what will undoubtedly be another example of excellent football.
Make no mistake, Penn State football is back.