Nittany Lions Fall to Top-Ranked, Unbeaten Buckeyes
Oct. 27, 2007
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; October 27, 2007 -- Penn State's bid to knock off the nation's No. 1 team was thwarted, as top-ranked Ohio State posted a 37-17 victory over the Nittany Lions in front of a enthusiastic crowd of 110,134 fans, second largest in Beaver Stadium history.
Senior tailback Rodney Kinlaw (Goose Creek, S.C.) delivered another solid performance with 81 yards rushing and a touchdown. Senior All-America linebacker Dan Connor (Wallingford) made a career-high 18 tackles to go along with his first interception of the season, while junior linebacker Sean Lee (Pittsburgh) added 13 tackles.
The Buckeyes moved the ball well on the opening drive of the game, including a 27-yard pass from Todd Boeckman to flanker Brian Robiskie. After another Ohio State first down, the Nittany Lion defense held the Buckeye to a 50-yard field goal attempt. Kicking into the raucous student section, Ryan Pretorius' attempt snuck over the crossbar to give Ohio State the early 3-0 lead at the 12:16 in the opening frame.
Penn State quickly responded on its first possession of the contest. After a trio of Anthony Morelli (Pittsburgh) passes for 19 yards, Kinlaw moved the Nittany Lions into OSU territory with a 21-yard run down. Morelli then connected on a 30-yard toss to Andrew Quarless (Uniondale, N.Y.) to give Penn State a first-and-goal from the 4-yard-line. Kinlaw danced into the end zone from two yards out to give the Lions a 7-3 lead with 8:25 remaining in the first quarter. Kinlaw's touchdown was the first score allowed by the Ohio State defense in the first quarter this season.
Ohio State then put together an 80-yard, six-play drive in 3:26 to take a 10-7 lead. The drive included a 60-yard pass from Boeckman to Ray Small and was capped by a nine-yard touchdown catch by Robiskie with 4:59 left in the first quarter.
The Nittany Lions again drove into Ohio State territory, including a 14-yard run by Kinlaw and a 28-yard jaunt by Morelli. But, the drive stalled and brought on Jeremy Boone (Mechanicsburg) for a punt, which was downed at the OSU 11.
On the ensuing drive, Chris Wells and Maurice Wells combined to gained 52 yards on the ground. After having a touchdown run called back on a holding penalty, Ohio State found the end zone on a 16-yard pass from Boeckman to Brian Hartline to extend the OSU lead to 17-7 with 9:53 remaining in the half.
Connor ended another OSU possession at the PSU 39 with an interception. Freshman tailback Evan Royster (Fairfax, Va.) gained 13 yards to get the Nittany Lions into OSU territory, but Penn State was forced to punt against the OSU defense, which entered the game leading the nation in total and scoring defense.
Ohio State put together an 87-yard drive that ended in a Boeckman touchdown pass. Chris Wells and Maurice Wells combined for 54 rushing yards on the drive. Boeckman capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to Jake Ballard with 6:10 remaining in the third quarter.
Penn State moved the ball well on its next drive and had a first-and-goal from the 8 yard line, but had to settle for a 27-yard field goal from Kevin Kelly (Langhorne, Pa.) to make it 24-10. Highlighting the drive was a 21-yard run by wide receiver Derrick Williams (Greenbelt, Md.) and an 18-yard run by Kinlaw.
The Buckeyes responded with a 37-yard field and essentially sealed the win with a 24-yard interception return for a touchdown by Malcolm Jenkins with 9:52 remaining in the game.
After a 35-yard field goal by Pretorius, sophomore A.J. Wallace (Waldorf, Md.) returned the kickoff 97 yards for a Penn State touchdown to make it 37-17 with 3:15 remaining. It was Penn State's first kickoff return for paydirt by a deep returnman since Larry Johnson's TD return against Illinois in 2001, which was also 97 yards. Anthony Scirrotto returned an on-side kick 29 yards for a score against Illinois in 2006.
The Nittany Lions play their final home game of the season against Purdue on Senior Day on Saturday. Game time and television coverage will be announced on Sunday.