Blocked field goal leads to PSU win

Penn State’s Saquon Barkley can’t hang onto a pass in the end zone as Ohio State's Raekwon McMillan defends during the first half in State College on Saturday at Beaver Stadium. Penn State upset No. 2 Ohio State, 24-21.

STATE COLLEGE –It’s the biggest Penn State win of this century.

Saturday night’s whiteout crowd stormed the field as the Nittany Lions upset No. 2 Ohio State, 24-21.

The Nittany Lions needed Grant Haley’s 60-yard touchdown return on Marcus Allen’s blocked field goal before one final stand against J.T. Barrett and the powerful Buckeye offense.

Jason Cabinda teamed with Evan Schwan for a fourth-and-23 sack of Barrett before the Nittany Lions (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten East) ran out the clock.

Fans clad in white still streamed onto the field as the now-traditional post-game alma mater singing fired up 10 minutes after the final snap.

Those on the field were no doubt celebrating not just an upset over a Big Ten rival, but perhaps a new and refreshing turn in a decade marked by the Jerry Sandusky scandal, with its sanctions and fallout.

Penn State rallied from a 21-7 deficit to start the fourth quarter, first when Trace McSorley ran from two yards out to make it 21-14 with 13:32 to go. He set up his run with an 18-yard pass to Mike Gesicki to start the drive, and a 35-yard lob to Saeed Blacknall to the two. Saquon Barkley picked up 27 yards on a handoff in between.

Cam Brown blocked a punt on the Buckeyes’ next series, a play that set up a Tyler Davis 34-yard field goal when the drive stalled in the red zone.

Still ahead 21-17, Ohio State (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten East) looked to put the game away on the next drive with a long touchdown series, and a Noah Brown 34-yard completion from Barrett moved the Buckeyes into PSU territory. A Barrett keeper picked up a first down on a third-and-2 to the PSU 31, making a score look inevitable.

But an incomplete and short pass followed, and Barrett’s end zone throw to Terry McLaurin was broken up by John Reid at the goal line.

The win came almost one month after a 49-10 loss at Michigan, where some speculation surfaced that coach James Franklin was in jeopardy in this, his third year of the program’s rebuild. An overtime win vs. Minnesota and rout of Maryland followed, as did public support from athletic director Sandy Barbour.

An Ohio State game had been perhaps Franklin’s best to date, but it was a loss when two years ago, the eventual national champion Buckeyes needed overtime after officials mistakes helped lead to 10 points in regulation.

But not this time. Cabinda and Brandon Bell returned from injuries and combined for 19 total tackles and numerous plays as Penn State stayed close after a dropped punt led to the Buckeyes’ opening score, as Reid’s fumble led to a Durbin field goal.

The Buckeyes built on that with a sustained drive two series later, as Barrett was 5 for 6 for 61 yards, capping it with a 28-yard pass to tight end Marcus Baugh. Baugh spun around three Penn State defenders for the score before a Durbin field goal on the next drive made it 12-0.

But three long completions into the wind and light shower at the end of the half led to a touchdown and pulled the Lions within a score. McSorley hit Chris Godwin for 20 yards to open and then in the end zone, and DaeSean Hamilton’s 34-yard sideline grab moved Penn State into scoring territory.

More followed, Big plays and celebrations, including fans still on the field as security and the public address encouraged them off it.