[Maria Monesi | WOUB]

Penn State hands Ohio its first loss in Happy Valley beatdown

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) – The last time Ohio traveled to Beaver Stadium; it ran out improbable 24-14 winners on a famous day for the Bobcat football program in Happy Valley. 

This time, the result wasn’t so happy. 

The Bobcats fell 46-10 to the Nittany Lions on Saturday afternoon, and it was a struggle from the opening kickoff for Ohio. 

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford (14) gets ready to throw against the Ohio Bobcat defense
Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford (14) gets ready to throw against the Ohio Bobcat defense [Maria Monesi | WOUB]
After an opening three and out forced by the Penn State defense, former Xavier Blue Bomber Sean Clifford led Penn State on a 12 play, 77 yard drive that culminated in Clifford taking it in himself for six. 

It would only continue to get worse for the Bobcats. After a punt had Penn State down inside their 20, a facemask penalty on Bryce Houston gave the Nittany Lions 15 yards.

Then it was the Nick Singleton show. 

Singleton took a handoff off the right tackle and burst up the right sideline, and no Bobcat could catch him as he raced 70 yards to eventually extend the Nittany Lion lead to 14. 

After the opening two possessions, it was a much more impressive second quarter from the Bobcat defense. After forcing a three and out, Penn State downed a punt at the Ohio one. 

Ohio fans have seen this story before, and it ended how it did many times in 2021. 

On the first down snap, Kurtis Rourke and Sieh Bangura miscommunicated on the handoff, leading to a fumble. Rourke was able to fall on it but was not able to get out of the end zone. Safety for Penn State, and it tacked two more onto the lead. 

On the ensuing drive after the safety, the Ohio defense probably had its most impressive stretch of the game. Kai Caesar and Vonnie Watkins combined on a second sack. Then on fourth down, Jeremiah Burton came up and stopped Clifford for a loss, getting the offense the ball back. 

After a fourth down stop by the Nittany Lion defense, the OU defense came right back, forcing a field goal in the redzone. 

Then, finally, the Bobcat offense found its stride.

Ohio Quarterback Kurtis Rourke (7) taking a snap against the Penn State defense in Happy Valley
Ohio Quarterback Kurtis Rourke (7) taking a snap against the Penn State defense in Happy Valley [Maria Monesi | WOUB]
Kurtis Rourke connected on a number of passes, one of which included a hook and ladder play from Sam Wiglusz to Sieh Bangura. And Ohio wasn’t done with the tricks on the drive. After a screen to Jacoby Jones, Jones tossed it to a streaking Kurtis Rourke, who rumbled down to the one yard line. Seih Bangura punched it in one play later for Ohio’s only touchdown of the game. 

That score came with 1:29 left in the second quarter. That proved to be too much time for Clifford. 

After a 41-yard Parker Washington run was brought back as he was ruled to have stepped out of bounds, Clifford delivered a dart to Mitchell Tinsley on the next play to extend the Penn State lead to 19 at the half. 

Clifford’s day can be summed up in a word: efficient. He completed 19 of his 27 pass attempts for 213 yards, and had a passing and a rushing score. 

However, the biggest story of the day was the new guard in Happy Valley. 

Four star true freshman running back Nick Singleton announced himself to the country in this one, going off for 179 yards and two long TD runs. 

To add, a large cheer swept around Beaver Stadium around the 10-minute mark of the third quarter as highly touted prospect Drew Allar entered the game. 

The Medina, OH native completed six of his eight pass attempts for 88 yards and two TDs, including a 32 yard strike to Omari Evans to extend the lead to 33-7 Nittany Lions. 

He’d also find Khalil Dinkins on a lovely play fake at the 13 minute mark of the fourth quarter to make it 46-7 after Singleton’s second long run had made it 40-7. 

Penn State celebrates its 46-10 victory by lining up together on the field at Beaver Stadium
Penn State celebrates its 46-10 victory over Ohio [Maria Monesi | WOUB]
Ohio redshirt freshman Parker Navarro entered the game in the fourth, completing just two passes, but showing some flashes with his legs, gaining 31 yards and leading the Bobcats to first and goal, where they would eventually be stuffed and have to settle for three to get the core to where it would eventually end, 46-10 Penn State. 

Head coach Tim Albin, while disappointed with the result, was pleased with the effort his team showed. He felt his team dealt with the noise of 107,000 Nittany Lion faithful well and played under pressure all game. 

“Really proud…we pumped it [the crowd noise] in Athens, and I was really proud of how all phases of our team dealt with it today,” Albin said. 

One positive on the day for the Bobcat defense was how much pressure they were able to generate. Ohio had five sacks on the day, but Kai Caesar said that at the end of the day, it’s about results. 

“It does feel good to be in these high stakes, but it would’ve been better if we won…those sacks don’t mean anything unless we get off the field,” Caesar said. 

It doesn’t get any easier for these Bobcats, as they’ll travel to another hostile environment in Ames to take on the Iowa State Cyclones.