Saturday’s Ohio State football game marked the team’s annual Senior Day celebration, and the 2011 senior class went out with a whimper against No. 21 Penn State in its final game at Ohio Stadium.
PSU senior tailback Stephfon Green rushed for two scores, sophomore kicker Anthony Fera added two field goals and the Nittany Lions defense did the rest, holding OSU to 296 yards of offense. PSU won, 20-14, and clinched at least a share of the Big Ten Leaders Division crown in the process.
Trailing 20-14 with less than two minutes to play in the fourth quarter, freshman quarterback Braxton Miller scrambled on fourth-and-10 attempting to keep the drive alive. Miller rolled to the right of the pocket and dove for the first-down marker, but came up short. OSU turned the ball over to PSU on downs with 1:41 remaining, and the Nittany Lions (9-2, 6-1) went on to win by the same score.
Green struck for PSU on a 39-yard touchdown run that put PSU up, 7-0, less than three minutes into the contest. Sophomore kicker Anthony Fera’s then-career-long 43-yard field goal then put OSU in a 10-0 hole.
“Obviously, it started off again down 10-0,” OSU coach Luke Fickell said after the game. “Not the way we had planned it. We have to do a better job out the gate.”
Senior wide receiver DeVier Posey, who made his 2011 debut after serving two five-game suspensions, made his first catches of the year and helped the Buckeyes to their first score of the game.
Posey’s first two catches went for a total of 57 yards, and the second helped to extend a drive that led to a 24-yard run by freshman quarterback Braxton Miller to cut the Buckeyes’ deficit to 10-7.
“It felt normal to be out there, to be with the guys,” Posey said. “I was excited. I just hope the young guys learned a lot tonight.”
With the touchdown, Miller moved into a tie with sophomore running back Carlos Hyde for the team lead in rushing scores in 2011 with six.
The Nittany Lions responded immediately.
PSU’s next possession was an 81-yard drive that ended with Green’s second score of the game, which extended the Nittany Lions’ lead to 17-7. Green finished the game with 93 yards on 16 carries.
Miller then used his arm to again bring the Buckeyes to within a score when he connected with junior tight end Jake Stoneburner on a 7-yard touchdown with 5:22 remaining in the half.
PSU’s Fera set a new career-long with a 46-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, but OSU remained within a score at 20-14.
The Nittany Lions out-gained the Buckeyes 254-145 in the half and tallied 12 first downs to OSU’s seven.
After PSU junior defensive tackle Jordan Hill recovered a fumble on the Buckeyes’ 11-yard line in the third quarter, the Nittany Lions threatened to put the game out of reach. OSU’s defense was up to the challenge.
OSU linebacker Storm Klein helped bring a crowd of 105,493 to its feet, keying a turnover on downs later on PSU’s drive. Klein tallied at least partial credit for a tackle on four consecutive plays from inside the Buckeyes’ 2-yard line to help deny the Nittany Lions and keep the score at 20-14.
“We did a great job at making the plays there when we needed it,” Fickell said. “Just not quite enough.”
PSU’s defense matched the Buckeyes, and neither team would score for the rest of the game.
OSU began a drive with 7:09 remaining in the game that ended with Miller’s unsuccessful dive for a first down. Despite another possession with less than a minute remaining, the Buckeyes did not threaten PSU and the Nittany Lions hung on to win by the same score.
“All I can say is its Michigan week,” Stoneburner said after the game. “We’ve obviously lost five games this year. That’s not great at all, but now our focus is on Michigan.”
The Buckeyes (6-5, 3-4) finish regular season play against the Wolverines Saturday at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. Kickoff is set for noon.