State College

If Penn State beats Ohio State, is State College ready for what’s next?

Fans in downtown State College

Fans gather in downtown State College after Penn State upsets No. 2 Ohio State. Fans take the time to chat with the CDT about what the wins means to them. Police were also on scene early Sunday morning to control the rallies that included thousand
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Fans gather in downtown State College after Penn State upsets No. 2 Ohio State. Fans take the time to chat with the CDT about what the wins means to them. Police were also on scene early Sunday morning to control the rallies that included thousand

The last time Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes came to Happy Valley, they were ranked No. 2 in the nation and were favored by three touchdowns.

Former Penn State defensive back Grant Haley had different plans, returned a blocked field goal 60 yards and gave the Nittany Lions a 24-21 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

James Franklin’s team left the field with their first victory over Ohio State since 2011 and their first against a top-two team since 1990.

Meanwhile, about 5,000 to 10,000 fans left Beaver Stadium and caused about $18,000 worth of damage during riots in downtown State College.

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State College police charged 13 people after a riot following Penn State’s 24-21 victory over No. 2 Ohio State on Oct. 22, 2016. Phoebe Sheehan Centre Daily Times, file

It was not the only time local police were tasked with handling a riot, and if the Nittany Lions beat the Buckeyes on Saturday, it may not be their last.

“These go back to the early ‘90s. They’ve tweaked things ever since then to try and make it more effective and less property damage, but the last Ohio State one, I think, was our last major event and that was pretty minimal property damage,” State College police Lt. Greg Brauser said. “A lot of that had to do with the fact that you’re able to prepare for them.”

Prep work includes a three-part plan that is universal for any kind of disturbance in downtown State College.

“One is where we just go down and try and keep the peace and keep everybody in the sidewalk and keep people moving. If that fails to work and the street gets overtaken, then dispersal orders are given to the crowd via public address systems and media outlets,” Brauser said. “After those dispersal orders are given and it’s not complied with, then the police move in and clear the streets with a physical presence.”

That physical presence includes Pennsylvania state police officers mounted on horses and officers on foot who use pepper spray, if needed.

Brauser also said tear gas and pepper ball guns are available, which are paintball guns loaded with pepper spray instead of paint.

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Rioters rinse their faces with beer to relieve pain after being pepper sprayed during a riot on Beaver Avenue after Penn State’s victory over Ohio State in October 2008. Centre Daily Times, file

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A State College police officer escorts a rioter to the sidewalk during a riot on Beaver Avenue after Penn State’s victory over Ohio State in October 2008 Centre Daily Times, file

“No one is discouraging an actual celebration, but you can’t block a state highway, which Beaver Avenue is, and you can’t block people’s normal routines to do a celebration for a sporting event,” Brauser said.

So where can you go if you want to celebrate, should Penn State win?

“The places that are designated around the stadium, fields that are on campus, the HUB lawn, Old Main lawn — those are places that you can congregate without causing damage and disruption to the workings of the community,” Brauser said. “So keep it to that and follow police orders when you’re told not to do something.”

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