Saturday, November 7, 2009

PRYOR ALL SMILES IN HAPPY VALLEY

Photo by the Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — They booed him, they razzed him, they mocked him, but by game's end — he was the last man smiling in Happy Valley.

In his much anticipated Pennsylvania homecoming, Ohio State sophomore quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, silenced the crowd of 110,033 maniacal fans at Beaver Stadium, by throwing for two touchdowns and running for another, in Saturday's 24-7 rout of the No. 11 Penn State Nittany Lions.

"(The crowd) messed with me pretty good," Pryor smiled. "But it was all good. I was trying to concentrate on the game, but they were laughing back there. I had a lot of fun with them."

He had a lot of fun with the Nittany Lions' defense, as well.

Pryor, who last year chose to play at OSU over his home state Nittany Lions, faced a barrage of insults and boos from the Penn State faithful early on. But, the kid from Jeannette, Pennsylvania was an extremely cool customer Saturday evening, putting an assault on the nation's top rated defense with both his legs and his right arm.

Pryor made great decisions all game long, he successfully converted a plethora of critical third downs, and most importantly, he showed that he can get the job done deep down field.

With the Buckeyes (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten) on top 10-7 late in the third quarter, the Ohio State signal caller made the play of the game — and maybe the season — as he dropped back in the pocket, scanned the field, and then fired a 62-yard spiraling strike over-the-top to fellow sophomore DeVier Posey for a touchdown and a 10-point advantage.

The deep connection acted as a giant mute button to the jam packed stadium, which was quite raucous prior to the Buckeyes' scoring play.

Posey said that the play had been in the works well before it happened.

"We kept coming back to the sideline telling them we've really got a shot if we go deep on that particular play," Posey said. "They were in the right coverage on first down. It was just a great call that Coach (Jim) Bollman made."

Pryor described the big pass play.

"I just had to move the safety a little bit to the right and we just got it in there," Pryor said of the scoring toss to Posey. "DeVier made a great catch and the linemen had a real good block going on.

"I just stepped up in the pocket and just let her go."

The final dagger would be inserted with 9:37 to play in the game, when Pryor — on another third down play — connected with tailback Brandon Saine for a six-yard touchdown pass.

Pryor finished with 175 total yards in the win.

"(Pryor) was prepared," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. "Nick Siciliano, after their last quarterback meeting this morning, said 'Coach, T.P. is zoned in rightnow.' Then we got into our final meeting before we boarded the bus and you could tell he knew what was up.

"I don't know what his passing numbers were, and I don't know how much he threw it, but he made some good, big throws and made some good decisions not to throw. If you don't turn it over, and you rush for over 200 (yards as a team), and you have a defense like ours, and special teams, you're going to win most games.

"T.P. did a great job."

Pryor wasn't the only star on Saturday donning a scarlet and gray uniform. His "silver bullet" defense was just as stellar.

The Buckeyes stifled the Penn State offensive attack in Saturday's win, holding the Nittany Lions to just 201 total yards (82 in the second half), while forcing the home team into seven three-and-outs.

OSU junior defensive end, Cameron Heyward, was a monster for the Buckeyes in the victory. The big man from Georgia led the OSU defense with 11 tackles on Saturday evening and punished Penn State senior quarterback, Darryl Clark, with two big sacks and several other brutal hits in the win.

The Big Ten's most efficient passer (Clark) was under attack all game long, finishing with just 125 yards on 12-of-28 passing, with no touchdowns and an interception.

The Nittany Lions only points of the game came in the second quarter, when Clark scored on a quarterback keeper on a fourth-and-goal play at the OSU 1-yard line.

Penn State head coach, Joe Paterno, didn't make any excuses after the loss — he just told it like it was.

"I don't think we were off a little bit anywhere," Paterno said. "I just think for the whole ball game, (Ohio State) gave us a good licking. They played better than we did today."

The loss eliminated the Nittany Lions from Rose Bowl contention.

PASADENA BOUND? — With Iowa losing to Northwestern earlier in the day, the Buckeyes are now tied for first place in the Big Ten and will face the Hawkeyes next Saturday in Columbus for at least a share of their fifth straight conference title and a possible trip to the Rose Bowl in January.