Ohio knocks of Lions in Opener
UNIVERSITY PARK — Any way you look at it, it wasn’t the start to the 2012 season first-year Penn State football coach Bill O’Brien and his squad were looking for.
After taking the 14-3 lead both the Lion offense and defense went South as the offense couldn’t move the ball into the end zone and the defense surrendered 21 unanswered points.
The result was a simple one. Ohio University 24, Penn State 14 before a crowd of 97,186 enthusiastic fans Saturday afternoon at Beaver Stadium.
“I thought there was some definite good out there,” said O’Brien. “I think there were some good things on both sides of the ball and on special teams. What we need to do is string plays together.”
Although O’Brien was hoping for better results from his squad in the opener, Ohio head coach Frank Solich felt it was a good stepping-stone for his club.
“Obviously this was a great win for our football team, our program, our university and our fans” Solich said. “Our fans have waited a long time to have any kind of consistency in football and we’ve been able to start to have some consistency in what we are doing. This is our second come-from-behind win against a very, very good Penn State football team. There was a lot of heart showed by our players today and I’m so proud of them.”
After the first two Lion possessions resulted in a lost fumble and a punt, the third time proved to be the charm as they marched 80 yards on 10 plays, tailback Bill Belton hauling in a 5-yard scoring aerial from quarterback Matt McGloin on the final play of the first quarter.
Ohio partially answered the Belton score on its next possession when Matt Weller nailed a 22-yard field goal, but with less than two minutes left in the first half, the Lions again put seven points on the board McGloin tossed his second TD aerial of the game, a 14-yard effort to tight end Matt Lehman.
The scoring play was set up when Nyeem Wartman blocked an Ohio punt on the Bobcat 18. Three plays later, McGloin found Lehman for the score.
After losing a fumble on their second possession, the Lions again coughed up the ball at the Bobcat 13-yard line to set up Weller’s first field goal of the game.
“”We can’t turn the ball over and we stress that,” said O’Brien. “We just have to coach it better and make sure that we’re drilling it better. We have to make sure that the kids have a great understanding that they can’t turn the ball over.”
With the score, the Lions took a 14-3 lead to the locker room, but little did anyone know that the second half would be all Green & White as the Bobcats dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage to run off 21 unanswered points for the win.
If there was a defining momentum changer in the game, it came when a Tyler Tettleton pass was tipped by a Lion defender into the hands of Landon Smith who took it to the house from 43 yards out. Weller tacked on the PAT, and from that point on, it was all Ohio.
“Well, that was just one play,” said Solich about his quarterback Tettleton throwing into double coverage. “But I think the big key to the second half is when we drove 93 yards on 17 plays (for our third touchdown). I think our line was able to take control of the game and I think we wore them down a little bit. It was the first game of the year and you never know what kind of condition your guys are in and how they are going to hold up, but I thought our guys held up really well.”
For the game, McGloin completed 27 passes on 48 attempts while tossing one interception. He finished with 260 yards and the pair of touchdown tosses.
“I think he (McGloin) played a solid football game,” said O’Brien about his quarterback. “I think he made some plays and he has made a lot of strides. I am proud to be his coach and I’m going to do a better job with him.”
So how did McGloin feel about his performance?
“There was a lot of good out there today,” he said. “We moved the ball pretty well, but unfortunately we couldn’t put together a full drive at some points. That happens, but I thought it was a good football game.”
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