For the second year in a row Ohio State overcame a fourth-quarter, double-digit deficit to Penn State to stun the Nittany Lions 27-26 before a Beaver Stadium record crowd of 110,889 in University Park, Pa., on Saturday.
Dwayne Haskins rallied the No. 4 Buckeyes from being down 26-14 with 8:00 against the ninth-ranked Nittany Lions (4-1, 1-1 Big Ten).
He threw touchdown passes of 47 yards to Binjimen Victor and a 24-yarder to K.J. Hill with 2:03 to play (the two-point try on the latter failed) for the lead.
The outcome was in doubt for the Buckeyes (5-0, 2-0) until sophomore defensive end Chase Young tackled Miles Sanders for a 2-yard loss at the OSU 45 on fourth down with 1:12 left in the game.
Haskins was 22 for 39 for 270 yards and three TDs.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley totaled a school-record 461 yards (286 passing, 175 rushing) and two TD passes.
On the winning drive, OSU went 96 yards in eight plays, starting with a 35-yard catch by J.K. Dobbins.
It was a far cry from the first half when the Buckeyes had just 93 total yards.
How It Happened
Penn State took a 3-0 lead with 4:58 left in the first quarter when a 63-yard drive stalled at the OSU 16. PSU was the beneficiary of a spectacular one-handed grab by Juwan Johnson to the Buckeyes’ 17. On the next play, a backward pass to Tommy Stevens resulted in a 13-yard loss. The drive stalled and Pinegar nailed the three-pointer from 34 yards.
The Nittany Lions drove into OSU territory again on its their third possession thanks to a career-long 51-yard run by McSorley to the 29 but he was later sacked for a 2-yard loss at the 28 by sophomore Chase Young and junior Malik Harrison on third down and Pinegar missed a field goal try from 46 yards.
PSU dominated the first quarter in all categories. The had six of seven first downs and out-gained the Buckeyes 155-27 while having possession for 10:49 compared to 4:11 for OSU.
Ohio State’s troubles continued early in the second quarter when Haskins was intercepted for the second time this season. His pass went off the hands of junior tight end Rashod Berry — third drop of the game by an OSU receiver — and Garrett Taylor returned it 45 yards to the Ohio State 28.
But PSU’s fifth foray deep into OSU turf ended in another field goal of 39 yards by Pinegar for a 6-0 lead with 11:18 to go in the quarter.
The Nittany Lions erupted out of nowhere to take a 13-0 lead with 5:59 to go when KJ Hamler exploded for a 93-yard TD catch-and-run with 5:59 remaining in the first half.
PSU was pinned at its 2 after Drue Chrisman’s 58-yard punt. On third-and-5 from the 7, McSorley hit Hamler on a slant and he went untouched the rest of the way for another big play allowed by OSU. The Buckeyes gave up a 93-yard TD run to Darius Anderson of TCU on Sept. 15.
OSU had seven punts — including five three-and-outs — and an interception on its first eight drives so a defensive play was badly needed. The Buckeyes got it when sophomore linebacker Tuf Borland stripped Sanders and junior defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones recovered at the Penn State 25.
Dobbins lost a yard on first down, but he caught a screen pass from Haskins at the 20 and used his blockers for the 26-yard TD to make it 13-7 with 1:50 left.
Penn State got the ball and kept moving upfield but needing 2 yards from the 50, sophomore linebacker Pete Werner stopped McSorley a yard shy and punted the ball back to the Buckeyes at their 12 with 20 seconds left and OSU ran one play to complete the half.
Ohio State, which had four first downs in the first half, went 75 yards in 13 plays for the 14-13 lead after taking the third-quarter kickoff. Dobbins completed the drive with a 4-yard TD run. K.J. Hill had consecutive catches for 20 to set up the score.
The Buckeyes blew a chance to increase the lead midway through the third when a 33-yard field goal by Sean Nuernberger was taken off the board by a facemask penalty on sophomore tight end Luke Farrell.
Nuernberger tried again from the 48, one shy of his career best, and missed.
OSU dodged a bullet of its own after McSorley took off for 23 yards to the Ohio State 39. The series continued because of a pass interference call on sophomore safety Isaiah Pryor to put the ball on the 33 but on fourth and a yard, Young knocked down a McSorley pass.
McSorley and Hamler connected again to help Penn State go ahead 20-14 with 12:22 to play. A 36-yard pass play to the 30 was aided by a 15-yard targeting call on Pryor that moved the ball to the 15. Pryor was ejected and will miss the first half of the next game vs. Indiana. Hamler left the game with a head injury.
McSorley then ran for 13 yards then tossed a 2-yard TD pass to Pat Freiermuth.
Ohio State turned the ball over on down over on downs at the PSU 48 on the next series when Haskins was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-1.
McSorley took charge again with runs of 19 and 10 yards to set up a 1-yard TD run by Sanders but the two-point conversion failed and the Nittany Lions led 26-14 with 8:00 left.
OSU needed just 1:18 and three plays to go 75 yards to make it 26-21. After a pass interference moved the Buckeyes to the PSU 47, Binjimen Victor made a leaping grab at the 35 and raced into the end zone.
That play gave the Buckeyes the momentum. The defense stiffened and the rest is history.