STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — The No. 13 Ohio State football team jumped out to an early lead, but relied on a late defensive stand in a 31-24 double-overtime victory against Penn State.
OSU (6-1, 3-0) sophomore defensive lineman Joey Bosa knocked down Penn State (4-3, 1-3) sophomore quarterback Christian Hackenberg on fourth-and-five in the second overtime to seal the win Saturday night at Beaver Stadium.
“I think we learned that we are a real team, and when adversity strikes we can come together and win a big game in a crazy environment,” Bosa said after the game.
After the Buckeyes outscored the Nittany Lions 17-0 in the first half, Penn State reversed field in the second half to tie the game at 17 with nine seconds on the clock to force overtime.
OSU coach Urban Meyer saved praise for his team’s opponent after the game, and added that the Buckeyes need to improve their play along the line.
“A credit to our opponent, they played their tails off,” Meyer said. “Outplayed us up front, I think. (I’m) a little upset with the way we played up front and we got to get that fixed.”
Penn State got the ball first before Hackenberg led the Nittany Lions to a first-and-goal from the two-yard line. The Buckeyes held on to force third down at the one, but senior running back Bill Belton found his way into the end zone to give Penn State its first lead of the night.
On the Buckeyes’ first overtime possession, redshirt-freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett kept the ball on a second-and-seven to set up first and goal from the five with a 17-yard run. He kept it again on the next play, scoring a touchdown to tie the game at 24.
Due to a personal foul penalty against Penn State following the Buckeyes’ extra point, OSU started the second overtime at the 12-yard line. Barrett led the Buckeyes to a third-and-two at the four-yard line, before taking another quarterback keeper into the end zone to put OSU back on top, 31-24.
After the game, Barrett said he was trying to take it one play at a time and didn’t necessarily plan on running the ball before his two overtime touchdowns.
“Just reading it each time, because when you go out there with an idea you play the idea and then you’re wrong,” he said.
Penn State took over at the 25-yard line, but the Buckeyes forced fourth-down–and-five at the 20. Hackenberg was knocked to the ground as Bosa overpowered a Nittany Lion blocker.
The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native said he didn’t follow his assignment on the play, despite the positive result for OSU.
“That wasn’t what I was supposed to do,” Bosa said. “I was supposed to hit the guard and wrap out, but he blocked down so the hole opened up. So I just took it and I was tired of trying to work my way around the back so I just ran over him.”
Bosa added he didn’t even realize what had happened until his teammates surrounded him after the play.
“I was so tired, I didn’t even know it was a sack until everybody started yelling,” he said. “I looked over and he had the ball and (junior defensive lineman Adolphus Washington) came to hug me and I just fell down and everybody jumped on top of me.”
Bosa — who said he “needed to play a lot better” — finished the game with 2.5 sacks and six total tackles.
Barrett said he was simply glad Bosa was wearing a white jersey rather than Penn State’s blue shirt in the game.
“Joey Bosa, one thing I can say, I’m really glad he’s on our team,” he said. “That’s for sure. Great player.”
The play sealed OSU’s third straight win against the Nittany Lions.
The double-overtime finish came after Penn State picked up a late field goal on a drive that began inside its own 10-yard line.
Holding on to its three-point advantage, OSU sophomore punter Cameron Johnston pinned the Nittany Lions at their own nine-yard line with 2:58 to play in the game, then drove down the field to tack on three points and tie the game.
Hackenberg led the Nittany Lions to the OSU 43-yard line before being sacked by Bosa on first down. A penalty against the Buckeyes on the next play gave Penn State a new set of downs on the OSU 28, needing just a field goal to force overtime.
On third-and-six at the OSU 14 yard-line with 19 seconds on the clock Hackenberg threw incomplete into the end zone, forcing a field goal attempt for the Nittany Lions.
After an OSU timeout, Penn State senior kicker Sam Ficken connected on a 31-yard field goal.
The Nittany Lions’ race back into the game was led in part by their defense’s ability to disrupt the OSU passing game.
Barrett threw an interception on the third play of the second half, which was returned 40 yards for a touchdown by senior defensive lineman Anthony Zettel. The pick was Barrett’s first interception since the Buckeyes Sept. 13 win against Kent State.
But after that touchdown, neither team found its way back onto the scoreboard in the third quarter.
Barrett threw another interception on OSU’s first play of the fourth quarter, and the Penn State offense managed to break through on the next drive.
“The last one, that was a dumb mistake,” Barrett said of the interception. “I saw the Mike (linebacker) and I tried to throw over him.”
Meyer said Barrett sprained his knee during the game, but kept on playing through the pain.
“J.T. Barrett had a sprained knee, and continued to do what he did and even on the drop back passes, whether it was a coverage sack or pressured, he pulled through a couple plays and made some great plays for us,” he said.
After the pick, Hackenberg hit freshman wide receiver Saeed Blacknall for a 24-yard touchdown, moving the Nittany Lions within three points.
Penn State forced OSU to punt on the next drive, but senior wide receiver Devin Smith downed it at the one-yard line. The Nittany Lions were forced to punt, giving the ball back to OSU with 51 yards between it and the end zone, and 5:17 remaining on the clock.
The drive stalled, giving the Nittany Lions their shot, leading to Ficken’s field goal and the eventual overtime.
Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliott paced the Buckeyes’ offense with 26 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown, while Barrett added 20 carries for 75 yards and his two overtime scores. The OSU signal caller also finished the game 12-for-19 for 74 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Senior tight end Jeff Heuerman led the Buckeyes with three receptions for 19 yards and a score.
After Bosa’s 2.5 sacks, redshirt-freshman linebacker Darron Lee added 1.5 sacks of his own while junior linebacker Joshua Perry tallied a team-high 18 total tackles.
The Buckeyes are scheduled to return to the field Nov. 1 to take on Illinois at Ohio Stadium. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.