Top-ranked Ohio State Drops Penn State, 28-6

Sept. 23, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Troy Smith put No. 1 Ohio State ahead with a sensational touchdown pass, and the Buckeyes defense took over from there.

Smith threw a 37-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter, then Malcolm Jenkins and Antonio Smith returned interceptions for touchdowns as Ohio State beat No. 24 Penn State 28-6 on Saturday in a game that saw Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno spend time in the locker room because he was feeling ill.

Paterno, the Nittany Lions' 79-year-old coach, jogged to the locker room midway through the second quarter and didn't return until the start of the fourth because he was suffering from the flu.

He got back just in time to see the Buckeyes (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) expand a 7-3 lead on Smith's athletic scramble that led to Brian Robiskie's 37-yard touchdown catch.

With the Nittany Lions (2-2, 0-1) seeking a touchdown and 2-point conversion that would tie it, Jenkins picked off an Anthony Morelli pass and raced down the left sideline 61 yards for a score to make it 21-6 with 2:31 left.

The play was reviewed by officials. Some replay angles appeared to show Jenkins spiking the ball to the ground before he got into the end zone. He also came close to stepping out of bounds near the Penn State 35.

Moments later, Antonio Smith stepped in front of a pass by Morelli meant for Deon Butler and sped along the same route as Jenkins for a 55-yard score. There was no dispute about the validity of his return.

The victory extended Ohio State's winning streak to 11 in a row, dating to last year's 17-10 loss at Penn State. The teams ended up tied for the Big Ten title after the Nittany Lions lost on the final play against Michigan.

With Penn State facing a critical punt from its end zone at the 7:21 mark of the second quarter, Paterno jogged down his sideline and then angled through the end zone on his way to the locker room.

He missed most of the highlights for the Nittany Lions.



Ignoring a steady downpour, Jeremy Kapinos had a 68-yard punt that Ginn muffed and then recovered before being swarmed by tacklers.

Five plays later, Ohio State had to punt and the Nittany Lions took over at their own 30. A 12-yard run by Tony Hunt (24 carries, 135 yards) and Morelli passes of 8 yards to Brendan Perretta and Patrick Hall helped them get into field-goal range. Morelli finished 16-of-25 for 105 yards with three interceptions.

But Kevin Kelly's 23-yard attempt with 3 seconds left in the half missed badly to the right. He was knocked down by Jenkins, however, giving the Nittany Lions a second chance. Kelly converted a 21-yarder with no time left for the only first-half scoring.

It rained throughout the game but decreased in intensity after halftime.

On Ohio State's third snap, Troy Smith's streak of 152 consecutive passes without an interception came to an end when he overthrew Ginn and cornerback Justin King dived to pick off the pass. Smith had not thrown and interception since last year's Northwestern game, a span of five games.

The Buckeyes finally broke through on their second possession of the third quarter, driving 75 yards in nine plays, capped by Antonio Pittman's 12-yard run up the middle. Pittman finished with 110 yards rushing on 20 carries.

Troy Smith (12-of-22 passing for 115 yards and two interceptions) made it 14-3 soon after Paterno returned, rolling right to avoid the rush and then doubling back before heaving the ball 60 yards to Robiskie in the Ohio State end zone.

At halftime, former Penn State player Adam Taliaferro and Ohio State's Tyson Gentry received a standing ovation when introduced at midfield. Taliaferro broke a vertebra in his neck during the 2000 game against Ohio State and is almost fully recovered after extensive rehabilitation. Gentry, who sustained a similar injury during a spring practice for the Buckeyes, is confined to a wheelchair.