Ohio handles PSU surge to get upset
Published 2:40 am Monday, September 3, 2012
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — When the Ohio Bobcats found themselves facing a wave of Penn State energy on an emotional day in Happy Valley, coach Frank Solich told his players to remain steady.
Following the familiar mantra of “one play at a time,” the Bobcats found their rhythm after falling behind by 11 and beat the Nittany Lions 24-14 on Saturday.
“We knew that we were going to have to take on a surge,” Solich said. “We knew it would be a difficult atmosphere to play in. What we told them is, ‘We just have to keep pounding fellas. This is a game that’s going to be a four-quarter football game. Just take on the surge early and let’s just keep pounding, pounding, pounding and try to turn it into just a football game.’ And we’re pretty good at playing football.”
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Trailing 14-3 at halftime, Ohio outscored Penn State 21-0 in the second half. Quarterback Tyler Tettleton had a hand in all three touchdowns.
He threw two touchdown passes — a 43-yarder to Landon Smith that squirted through Penn State safety Stephen Obeng-Agyapong’s hands and a 5-yarder to Donte Foster with 2:55 left to ice the win — and ran for a 1-yard score.
“That was my fault, just forcing it,” Tettleton said of his TD pass to Smith. “I’m just so happy he had the chance to catch that.”
Beau Blankenship ran for 109 yards on 31 carries and added 72 receiving yards on seven catches. The confident running back said he didn’t think the win over Penn State was an upset.
“In our minds, I don’t think it was,” he said. “We go into every game thinking we’re going to win.”
The Ohio win spoiled Bill O’Brien’s debut as Penn State head coach.
For many fans, just having football again at Beaver Stadium was enough of a victory following a trying offseason that included the death of former beloved coach Joe Paterno, and crippling NCAA sanctions placed on the football program for the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal.
Matt McGloin threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns guiding Penn State’s new-look offense.
“I thought it was a great atmosphere in the stands at Beaver Stadium,” O’Brien said before stoically taking responsibility for the loss. “Again, it starts with me and coaching better and making sure we play better next time.”
There were some other changes, too: players’ names on the backs of the uniforms, and blue ribbons on the back of the helmets to show support for victims of child sexual abuse.
Even in defeat, Saturday was a huge first step.
The Nittany Lions were playing football again.
McGloin was 27 for 48 passing with one interception, while sophomore Allen Robinson had a nice debut as the No. 1 wideout with nine catches on 97 yards.
Tettleton finished 31 of 41 passing for 324 yards and two scores, and added 47 yards and a score on nine carries on the ground. Beau Blankenship had 109 yards on 31 carries.
Penn State’s front seven — thought to be the strength of the team — got dented by Ohio’s fast-paced offense. Warm, humid conditions also seemed to take a toll, with a couple players bothered by cramps.
Freshmen and other new faces played key roles all over the field for Penn State, necessitated in part by some transfers following the NCAA sanctions and other offseason departures.
A huge cheer erupted after freshman linebacker Nyeem Wartman burst up the middle to block an Ohio punt that Penn State recovered at the Bobcats 18.
Three plays later, junior tight end Matt Lehman, playing his first game, nearly lost his footing along the sideline before bursting into the end zone for a 14-yard score and a 14-3 lead.
An offense that used a lot of no-huddle looked OK without 1,200-rusher Silas Redd and receiver Justin Brown, who elected to transfer following the NCAA penalties coming down.
But Ohio’s offense was better down the stretch.
Tettleton’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Donte Foster in the corner of the end zone with 2:55 left put an exclamation point on Ohio’s first win over a Big Ten opponent since a 20-17 victory over Illinois in 2006.
Ohio returned eight starters on defense, while Tettleton is one of the MAC’s top quarterbacks after setting 12 new school records last season.