Penn State Football

Penn State is keeping it close against Ohio State

CDT photo

Ohio State leads Penn State 12-7 at halftime in front of a raucous, White Out crowd Saturday night at Beaver Stadium.

The Nittany Lions got the fast start they wanted. Winning the opening coin flip and electing to receive, Penn State almost got on the board early.

Pushing down the field with tempo — highlighted by a 19-yard run by Saquon Barkley and a 26-yard play-action completion to Mike Gesicki up the seam — Penn State drove 53 yards, but stalled in Ohio State territory.

The Nittany Lions sent out placekicker Tyler Davis to attempt a 39-yard field goal, but his boot was blocked by Ohio State. It ended Davis’ perfect career field goal mark; he’s now 18 of 19.

The Nittany Lions held Ohio State short on 3rd-and-9 on the Buckeyes’ first drive, forced a three-and-out on their second series, and a Brandon Bell sack generated another three-and-out.

However, Ohio State received some help on the subsequent punt. Nittany Lion returner John Reid muffed the kick, allowing the Buckeyes to recover on the Penn State 38-yard line.

Penn State’s defense held firm, though, keeping Ohio State out of the end zone and limiting the opposition to a 33-yard field goal attempt, which Tyler Durbin buried with 14:55 left in the second quarter.

Ohio State added to its total later in the second, as a 26-yard completion from Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett to tight end Marcus Baugh signaled the game’s first touchdown. It capped an 11-play, 78-yard Buckeye drive.

However, Durbin shanked his extra-point attempt, leaving Ohio State with a 9-0 lead with 4:53 to go.

Durbin did convert a 30-yard field goal with 1:14 left until halftime, as Penn State’s defense stood its ground yet again.

But the Nittany Lions finally responded.

Facing a 2nd-and-11 on the Penn State 46-yard line, Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley rolled right to avoid a sack and heaved it deep for DaeSean Hamilton. The redshirt junior hauled it in for a 34-yard grab.

Two plays later, McSorley found Chris Godwin with a 20-yard, back-shoulder throw for Penn State’s first score. Davis nailed the extra point to cut Ohio State’s lead to 12-7 with nine seconds until halftime.

Overall, Ohio State tallied 158 yards, while Penn State managed just 101.

Barkley had an impact from the start, rattling off 53 rushing yards in the first quarter. In the second quarter, he had only three.

Meanwhile, McSorley was 5 of 15 for 95 yards and ran 12 times for 50 yards.

On defense, previously-injured linebackers Bell and Jason Cabinda made positive returns to the field. Bell led all players with 11 tackles, followed by Cabinda and Manny Bowen’s eight takedowns.

Barrett was 13 of 24 for 125 passing yards while adding 34 yards on the ground.

Injury-wise, Gesicki and defensive tackle Parker Cothren went to the locker room with knocks.

Usual-starter at defensive end Garrett Sickels was suspended for the first half.

Check back for an updated story.

John McGonigal: 814-231-4630, @jmcgonigal9