STATE COLLEGE, PENNSYLVANIA – The largest crowd in Beaver Stadium history, a sparkling whiteout, was rocking. Penn State and its dynamic and gritty quarterback Trace McSorley had Ohio State reeling midway through the fourth quarter.
And then just like that, everything changed, and for the second year in a row the Buckeyes swiped victory away from the Nittany Lions in a wild game between the Big Ten powerhouses.
Dwayne Haskins threw two touchdown passes in the final seven minutes as No. 4 Ohio State wiped out a 12-point deficit to beat No. 9 Penn State 27-26 Saturday night.
“That sideline was not giving up,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “There was a time, now, you looked up and saw those white pom-poms and that whole deal and thought that was over.”
McSorley had 461 total yards, including a career-high 175 rushing, and threw two touchdown passes, The Nittany Lions (4-1, 1-1) went up 26-14 with 8:00 left in the fourth quarter on a 1-yard TD plunge by Miles Sanders.
The record-breaking crowd of 110,889 was singing along to “Sweet Caroline” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.” It looked like the Nittany Lions would get another whiteout win against the Buckeyes (5-0, 2-0) like they did in 2016.
Instead, for the second straight season, Ohio State made a fourth-quarter rally from a double-digit deficit. As far as Penn State coach James Franklin has taken the Nittany Lions in four-plus seasons, he said they can’t quite consider themselves an elite program until they start closing out games like this.
“It’s not going to happen again,” Franklin said. “I’m not a negative guy. But I am going to make sure that as our program, that we do everything right and we grow every single day and we challenge ourselves every single day and we get uncomfortable, we get comfortable being uncomfortable and break out to that next phase.”
The game flipped quickly.
Haskins connected with Binjimen Victor, who weaved and slipped through tacklers for a 47-yard touchdown catch-and-run that cut it to 26-21 with 6:42 left.
Meyer said Victor “gave us hope.”
Penn State could not put the Buckeyes away with a closing drive but the Nittany Lions buried Haskins and Ohio State at their own 4 with 4:35 left on the clock.
“One of the great drives in Ohio State history,” Meyer called it.
A screen to J.K. Dobbins got 35 and took Ohio State out of the hole. Mixing runs and passes, the Buckeyes worked their way into Penn State territory. Haskins hit K.J. Hill with a quick pass to the outside and the receiver picked up a couple of blocks, broke a tackle and went in for a 24-yard score that made it 27-26 with 2:03 left.
McSorley and Penn State could not come up with a response. On fourth-and-5 from the Ohio State 43, McSorley handed off to Sanders on a read option and his was smothered by Chase Young, who had a huge game at defensive end for Ohio State.