Pryor, Buckeyes take Big Ten lead
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Terrelle Pryor tiptoed his way around the Penn State defense, then smiled and danced all over the Beaver Stadium turf.
Quite the happy homecoming Saturday for the dual-threat phenom from western Pennsylvania.
Pryor threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in his first game back in his home state and No. 15 Ohio State reclaimed control of the Big Ten race after beating No. 11 Penn State, 24-7 in a duel of the league’s top two defenses.
As an added bonus, the Buckeyes (8-2, 5-1) vaulted into a tie for the conference lead with Iowa after Northwestern handed the Hawkeyes its first loss of the season earlier Saturday.
After a demoralizing loss at Purdue last month, Ohio State’s hopes for a fifth straight league title look much brighter. A showdown with Iowa at the Horseshoe awaits next week.
“November is for contenders, we always say that,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. “It’s hard to get too ecstatic right now because you know the Hawkeyes are coming to town.”
They’ll head home to Columbus with a confident Pryor, the native of Jeannette who came up with several clutch plays against the team he turned down as a highly touted high school prospect.
On Saturday, Pryor showed Happy Valley why he was such a prize. He finished 8 for 17 passing for 125 yards, and rushed for 50 yards and a 7-yard TD on five carries.
“It was huge. They were making a big deal about it and people were doubting us, ’Buckeyes can’t do this or this.’ A lot of that stuff motivates us, but we knew we could do it,” Pryor said.
Ray Small burned Penn State (8-2, 4-2) with two long punt returns, and Ohio State’s defense held dangerous Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark in check with constant pressure.
The Buckeyes scored the game’s final 17 points to silence the crowd of 110,033, the fourth-largest in Beaver Stadium history.
“We broke down on a kicking play, had a couple tough penalties, we didn’t get any field position,” Penn State coach Joe Paterno said. “It was a tough ballgame for us, it really was, against a good football team.”
Leading by three, Pryor connected with open receiver DeVier Posey in stride down the left sideline for a 62-yard touchdown pass with 1:47 left in the third to extend the lead to 17-7.
A pumped Pryor rushed down the field to meet Posey, then skipped back to the sideline in delight.
“This was my first time to lead the team and lead the offense and score some touchdowns against another big team,” Pryor said. “It felt pretty good to lead the team.”
Ohio State stats
No. 15 OHIO ST. 24, No. 11 PENN ST. 7
Ohio St. 7 3 7 7 — 24
Penn St. 0 7 0 0 — 7
OSU—Pryor 7 run (Barclay kick), 11:47.
PSU—Clark 1 run (Wagner kick), 12:28.
OSU—FG Barclay 37, 5:54.
OSU—Posey 62 pass from Pryor (Barclay kick), 1:47.
OSU—Saine 6 pass from Pryor (Barclay kick), 9:37.
First downs 15 9
Rushes-yards 49-228 30-76
Passing 125 125
Comp-Att-Int 8-17-0 12-28-1
Return Yards 130 0
Punts-Avg. 8-38.0 10-45.8
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-0
Penalties-Yards 9-86 4-31
Time of Possession 34:02 25:58
RUSHING—Ohio St., Saine 20-68, Herron 16-58, Pryor 5-50, Posey 2-19, J.Hall 3-17, Small 1-13, Sanzenbacher 1-4, Team 1-(minus 1). Penn St., Royster 13-36, Clark 11-20, Powell 1-6, Green 2-6, Suhey 2-5, Beachum 1-3.
PASSING—Ohio St., Pryor 8-17-0-125. Penn St., Clark 12-28-1-125.
RECEIVING—Ohio St., Posey 2-77, Z.Boren 2-9, Sanzenbacher 1-22, Small 1-7, Saine 1-6, Ballard 1-4. Penn St., Zug 7-96, Green 1-11, Shuler 1-8, Quarless 1-7, Royster 1-3, Powell 1-0.