Ohio State overcomes red zone struggles to top Penn State 33-24

COLUMBUS -- Ohio State settled for field goals on three drives into the Penn State red zone in the second half but still came away with a 33-24 win Saturday night.

Trailing 17-10, Penn State got the ball to start the second half and went right down the field with the aid of a pair of 15-yard penalties on the Buckeyes.

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Steele Chambers was called for targeting and ejected on the first play and Zach Harrison picked up a personal foul for a late hit on Clifford two plays later.

Jahan Dotson finished the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run after the receiver took a direct snap and ran around left end. Penn State converted three third downs on the drive to improve to 8 of 12 for the game.

Ohio State drove inside the 1-yard line of Penn State on the following drive, but the Buckeyes were not able to punch it in. They lined up to go for it on fourth down, but Henderson jumped the snap count. That led Day to call for a 23-yard field goal by Noah Ruggles to put Ohio State back on top 20-17.

Henderson finished the job the next time the Buckeyes got the ball back. He found a hole in the middle of the defense and then sprinted to the sideline. He had covered 62 yards when Jaquan Brisker forced him out of bounds at the Penn State 3, but Henderson found the end zone two plays later to make it 27-17 with 3:35 left in the third quarter.

The Nittany Lions wasted no time striking back. They converted three more third downs during an 11-play, 75-yard drive Keyvonne Lee finished with a 1-yard run out of the old Fullhouse T formation.

Ohio State drove to the Penn State 13 on the next drive, but the Buckeyes turned the ball over on downs after Stroud failed to connect with Olave on a fourth-and-4.

They got it back three plays later when Cam Brown picked off a Clifford pass, but the offense’s struggles in the red zone continued. The Buckeyes eventually settled for another Ruggles field goal, this one 25 yards with 7:12 to go.

After the defense forced a punt, Ohio State looked ready to put then game away. The Buckeyes drove to the Penn State 9 but again had to settle for a field goal.

Ruggles connected from 26 yards out to make it a two-score game with 2:41 left.

Penn State got the ball back with no timeouts, but the Nittany Lions moved quickly into Ohio State territory.

Needing two scores, they lined up for a 49-yard field goal with 1:19 left, but Stout’s kick was short and Ohio State was able to run out the clock.

FIRST HALF RECAP

Despite a slow start to the game, Ohio State took a 17-10 lead into the locker room Saturday night against Penn State.

The 20th-ranked Nittany Lions got on the board first with a 13-play, 89-yard drive that ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Sean Clifford to Brenton Strange.

They converted three third downs on the drive, including a 13-yard pass to KeAndre Lambert-Smith on third-and-9 midway through.

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Ohio State answered with a 57-yard scoring drive that ended with a 35-yard field goal by Noah Ruggles.

The Buckeyes struggled to get anything going and punted on their next two drives before finally breaking through with a 69-yard touchdown drive.

It included a 15-yard pass interference flag and ended when C.J. Stroud scrambled and tossed one deep for Chris Olave, who was able to run under it in the end zone for a 38-yard score that put Ohio State on top 10-7 with 3:48 left in the half.

Penn State got the ball back and began what looked like another scoring march, but it came to a screeching halt when Tyreke Smith got to Clifford and forced a fumble Jerron Cage picked up and returned 57 yards for a touchdown and a 17-7 lead.

Penn State got the ball back and drove with 2:24 on the clock and drove 46 yards for a 47-yard field goal by Jordan Strout as time ran out.

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