COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Devon Torrence tipped and snagged an
interception and returned it 34 yards for the go-ahead touchdown to
turn the tide in No. 8 Ohio State's 38-14 win over Penn State on
The Buckeyes added scores when a long pass into double coverage
ricocheted off a defender to Dane Sanzenbacher for a 58-yard score
and Travis Howard picked off a pass and brought it back 30 yards,
also in the fourth quarter.
The two defensive scores were nothing new in the series. Penn
State (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten) has had six interceptions returned for TDs
in the last seven meetings.
The victory sends the Buckeyes (9-1, 5-1) into a critical
showdown at Iowa next week tied for first place with Michigan State
Instead of win No. 401 for Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno, the
second-half scores tagged him with his 133rd loss, while the
comeback from an 11-point deficit was the biggest in coach Jim
Tressel's 10 years in Columbus.
The game swung on one play.
With a 14-10 lead on second and 9 at the Nittany Lions 37 midway
through the third quarter, Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin
fired a pass into the left flat meant for Michael Zordich. Torrence
had slipped off coverage of another receiver, sliding inside and
streaking in front of Zordich to tip the ball in the air. He tipped
it once, juggled it off his shoulder and then finally collected it,
racing for the touchdown and a 17-14 lead.
It was the second interception of the season for Torrence, a
former outfielder in the Houston Astros system, and McGloin's first
in his last 91 attempts.
Ohio State then forced a punt and on second and 23 from his own
42, Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor lobbed an arching pass down
the middle of the field for DeVier Posey, with D'Anton Lynn and
Drew Astorino pounding him as the ball arrived. But the ball
squirted directly to Sanzenbacher trailing the play and he casually
caught the ball and walked into the end zone.
Howard then stepped in front of McGloin's pass with 8:57 left to
end the drama.
Ohio State outscored the Lions 21-0 in the fourth quarter,
reeling off the final 35 points. Pryor, who was 8 of 13 for 139
yards with one interception and two scores, also hit Jake
Stoneburner with a late TD pass.
The Buckeyes trailed 14-3 at the half and forced a punt, but had
to start from their own 4.
But they covered the 96 yards - actually 98 because they had a
false start penalty before they ran a play - in 11 plays. For the
most part, they stayed on the ground, with Boom Herron going the
final 5 yards through a gaping hole up the middle. Herron finished
with a career-best 190 yards on 21 carries.
Then came the interception that flipped the game.
Tressel improved to 27-4 in November games as Ohio State's head
coach - and just 3-4 in the week after a bye.
The Nittany Lions, angry that they were listed as 2½-touchdown
underdogs, appeared to be the team that was rested and focused.
They took a 7-3 lead when McGloin engineered a 67-yard drive
capped by his 23-yard TD pass to Justin Brown. McGloin, who
finished 15 of 30 for 159 yards with two touchdowns and two
interceptions, was leveled on the play, getting the pass off just
in time to Brown, who was all alone at the goal line.
Amazingly, the Nittany Lions had never thrown a touchdown pass
in Ohio Stadium in eight trips since joining the Big Ten in 1993.
Ohio State punted the ball away - as it did on its last four
possessions in the half after the field goal - and Penn State
motored 82 yards with McGloin hitting Derek Moye on a high 6-yard
pass for the score. McGloin was 13 of 18 for 141 yards in the
Paterno's teams had never before scored more than 13 points in a
conference game at Ohio Stadium.
Boos rained down on the Buckeyes as they left the field at the
half. But everything changed on Torrence's return in the third