Saturday, November 13, 2010

BUCKEYES USE BIG SECOND HALF TO DUST PENN STATE AT THE SHOE, 38-14

Ohio State cornerback Devon Torrence picks off a Penn State pass and returns it for the go ahead score. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)
COLUMBUS — Penn State sophomore quarterback Matt McGloin went to the well one too many times on Saturday evening in Columbus.

After throwing two touchdowns passes in the first half and putting his underdog Nittany Lions ahead on the scoreboard at the break — mostly at the expense of Ohio State cornerback Devon Torrence — McGloin decided late in the third quarter to go back to what was working early on.

However, this time, Torrence made him pay as the veteran Buckeye defender picked off the Penn State walk-on's pass in Nittany Lions territory and raced 34 yards to the end zone for the go ahead touchdown.

The dam would break on the visiting Nittany Lions night following the Torrence interception, as the No. 9 Buckeyes scored 21 unanswered points the rest of the way, handing Penn State their fourth loss of the season, 38-14.

The Buckeyes outscored the Nittany Lions 35-0 in the second half.

Ohio State junior tailback Dan "Boom" Herron had another career day on the ground, rushing for 190 yards and a touchdown in the win for the Buckeyes, who improved their season record to 9-1 overall (5-1 Big Ten).

After falling behind 14-3 at the break, Herron once again was the catalyst in the Buckeyes comeback efforts, contributing 41 of the Buckeyes' 96 yards on their opening series of the second half. The junior star capped off the drive with a five-yard touchdown run to cut the Nittanny Lions' lead to 14-10.

Boom Herron
(AP Photo/Al Behrman)
Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said that first drive of the second half was big and Herron was definitely the spark plug.

"When you can take the ball 90-plus yards, which we've done a couple times in recent weeks, is huge," Tressel said. "But Boom, 21 carries for 190 against Penn State, that's pretty good. He as we've talked for quite sometime, Boom just has that ability to lift the group. He breaks tackles.

"Boom is special player."

Herron said the 96-yard drive was critical to the Buckeyes chances for a comeback.

"It was huge," Herron said of the opening scoring drive of the second half. "We were down at the time and we really needed to put some points on the board and help our defense out.

"The offensive line did a great job and I just saw the creases and took them."

Of course, arguably the biggest play of the game would come moments later when Torrence intercepted McGloin to give the Buckeyes the lead. McGloin completed several passes on Torrence in the first half and seemed to be locking in more and more on him as the game progressed. That is until Torrence went pick-six on him.

Torrence was thrilled that he was able to gain redemption in such a huge way.

"Emotions were flying, man," Torrence said when speaking of his interception return. "Words couldn't even describe how good that felt. I couldn't hear anything. I was just like ... wow!"

Torrence admitted that the Buckeyes secondary was playing soft during the first half.

"We decided to get up on them and challenge them (in the second half)," Torrence said. "We were playing a cover three, a soft zone (in the first half) and we decided to get up and challenge them. I hope we do more of that the rest of the season because it allowed us corners to come up and make plays."

McGloin would throw another pick-six in the fourth quarter, this time to cornerback Travis Howard, who returned it 30 yards to paydirt for the 31-14 advantage.

Matt McGloin
(AP Photo/Al Behrman)
McGloin, who finished the game with 159 yards passing and two touchdowns, was just 2-of-11 in the second half for 19 yards and two interceptions.

Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor didn't have one of his greater statistical games, finishing just 139 yards and two touchdowns on 8-of-13 passing. However, he made plays when he needed to move the chains and keep drives alive, and even had a little help from Miss Lady Luck.

With the Buckeyes ahead by only three, and facing a second-and-23, Pryor fired a pass deep down the middle of the field which was intended for junior wide receiver DeVier Posey. However, the ball would be tipped at the last moment by a Penn State defender, and caromed into the hands of Buckeyes senior receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, who walked into the end zone for the 58-yard score.

"Number 28 on Penn State played it great," Pryor said of the tipped touchdown toss to Sanzenbacher. "I don't know, I guess luck happens sometimes."

Pryor would add another touchdown pass to tight end Jake Stoneburner late in the game for the final score of the night.

Pryor wasn't thrilled with the way he played in Saturday's win, but in the end, he was happy to get a much needed victory, keeping Ohio State's Big Ten title and BCS bowl game hopes alive.

"I played terrible," Pryor said. "But I played terrible and we got the win. That's the main thing. That's the only thing that matters."

The Buckeyes will travel to Iowa next Saturday, before wrapping up the regular season at home on November 27 against arch-rival Michigan.