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Nov. 13, 2010
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Devon Torrence tipped and snagged an interception and returned it 34 yards for the go-ahead touchdown to turn the tide in No. 8 Ohio State's 38-14 win over Penn State on Saturday.
The Buckeyes added scores when a long pass into double coverage ricocheted off a defender to Dane Sanzenbacher for a 58-yard score and Travis Howard picked off a pass and brought it back 30 yards, also in the fourth quarter.
The two defensive scores were nothing new in the series. Penn State (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten) has had six interceptions returned for TDs in the last seven meetings.
The victory sends the Buckeyes (9-1, 5-1) into a critical showdown at Iowa next week tied for first place with Michigan State and Wisconsin.
Instead of win No. 401 for Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno, the second-half scores tagged him with his 133rd loss, while the comeback from an 11-point deficit was the biggest in coach Jim Tressel's 10 years in Columbus.
The game swung on one play.
With a 14-10 lead on second and 9 at the Nittany Lions 37 midway through the third quarter, Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin fired a pass into the left flat meant for Michael Zordich. Torrence had slipped off coverage of another receiver, sliding inside and streaking in front of Zordich to tip the ball in the air. He tipped it once, juggled it off his shoulder and then finally collected it, racing for the touchdown and a 17-14 lead.
It was the second interception of the season for Torrence, a former outfielder in the Houston Astros system, and McGloin's first in his last 91 attempts.
Ohio State then forced a punt and on second and 23 from his own 42, Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor lobbed an arching pass down the middle of the field for DeVier Posey, with D'Anton Lynn and Drew Astorino pounding him as the ball arrived. But the ball squirted directly to Sanzenbacher trailing the play and he casually caught the ball and walked into the end zone.
Howard then stepped in front of McGloin's pass with 8:57 left to end the drama.
Ohio State outscored the Lions 21-0 in the fourth quarter, reeling off the final 35 points. Pryor, who was 8 of 13 for 139 yards with one interception and two scores, also hit Jake Stoneburner with a late TD pass.
The Buckeyes trailed 14-3 at the half and forced a punt, but had to start from their own 4.
But they covered the 96 yards--actually 98 because they had a false start penalty before they ran a play--in 11 plays. For the most part, they stayed on the ground, with Boom Herron going the final 5 yards through a gaping hole up the middle. Herron finished with a career-best 190 yards on 21 carries.
Then came the interception that flipped the game.
Tressel improved to 27-4 in November games as Ohio State's head coach--and just 3-4 in the week after a bye.
The Nittany Lions, angry that they were listed as 2 1/2 -touchdown underdogs, appeared to be the team that was rested and focused.
They took a 7-3 lead when McGloin engineered a 67-yard drive capped by his 23-yard TD pass to Justin Brown. McGloin, who finished 15 of 30 for 159 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, was leveled on the play, getting the pass off just in time to Brown, who was all alone at the goal line.
Amazingly, the Nittany Lions had never thrown a touchdown pass in Ohio Stadium in eight trips since joining the Big Ten in 1993.
Ohio State punted the ball away--as it did on its last four possessions in the half after the field goal--and Penn State motored 82 yards with McGloin hitting Derek Moye on a high 6-yard pass for the score. McGloin was 13 of 18 for 141 yards in the opening half.
Paterno's teams had never before scored more than 13 points in a conference game at Ohio Stadium.
Boos rained down on the Buckeyes as they left the field at the half. But everything changed on Torrence's return in the third quarter.