One play. That’s all it takes to change the course of a game.
The Penn State Nittany Lions realized that Saturday as they saw their 14-3 halftime lead quickly turn to a 38-14 pummeling by the No. 9-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.
With the Nittany Lions trailing by four points midway through the third quarter, it appeared that momentum was shifting toward the Buckeyes. Cornerback Devon Torrence helped continue the shift.
Facing a second-and-nine from their own 37-yard line, Nittany Lions quarterback Matt McGloin dropped back to pass.
As he fired short to his left, Torrence made a break for the ball and came away with it.
“I just saw it and just jumped it,” Torrence said. “I think it was maybe a low throw and I had to kind of tip it to myself to put it into position for me to catch it.”
Tipping the McGloin pass twice before securing the ball and returning it 34 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, Torrence turned a docile crowd of 105,466 into one of pure pandemonium in a matter of seconds.
“I couldn’t hear anything,” he said. “Emotions were flying, and words can’t even describe how good that felt.”
After suffering a rough first half, which included a pass interference call that led to a second PSU score, Torrence sought to redeem himself in the second half. The Buckeyes made adjustments at halftime to get back in the game.
So did Torrence.
“I just told myself, ‘I am just going to be more aggressive, and if you all throw anything into these flats or try and run any type of screens, it’s going to be a wrap for you,'” he said. “That was just my halftime adjustment for myself.”
It worked. After senior captain Brian Rolle challenged his fellow defensive teammates on the sideline to make a big play, Torrence delivered.
“That was big,” Rolle said. “I remember before that telling all the guys, ‘Who wants it? Who wants to be great?’ Sure enough, he picked the ball off and ran it back, and I told him, ‘That’s how you be great.'”
The interception deflated the sinking Penn State offense and proved to be the difference in the game. Torrence’s score gave the Bucks a three-point lead, one they would not relinquish.
“Those kinds of plays take games over,” said defensive tackle Dexter Larimore. “It hurts their offense and quarterback … It was big for momentum change. Tonight those made the difference.”