The top-ranked Nittany Lions downed No. 5 Oklahoma State 23-12 in front of 6,571 clad in mostly white, winning six matches in the process and overcoming a 9-6 intermission deficit.
Match of the Meet: The 2013-14 college wrestling season has been topsy-turvy. according to Oklahoma State head coach John Smith. Upsets have abounded, and champions have fallen seemingly night in and night out.
There was no upset at 174-pounds at Rec Hall, as Cowboy and second-ranked Chris Perry held served in a 4-3 epic that ended with Perry escaping from the grasp of Lions' Matt Brown in a second tiebreaker period.
"It was very similar to the match they had in the past," Penn State head coach Cael Sanderson said. Perry holds two wins over Brown, one coming in last year's NCAA finals and the other back in January at the Southern Scuffle.
"This time Matt came out and tried to score right away, and ended up in a long scramble and ended up giving up a takedown on the edge," Sanderson continued. "He has to work on getting out [from bottom]; that's an area he's getting beat in. Perry did a nice job; he's a tough kid and Matt kept wrestling. Two of the best in the country made for a great match."
Perry led 2-1 after a period of action, and each would get an escape point over the next four minutes of wrestling. Brown also was awarded a penalty point, as Perry was nailed with a stalling caution, which sent the bout to sudden victory.
Neither wrestler could find an opening in the first 60-second period, and they proceeded to ride each other out in their respective tiebreaker periods. The second sudden victory period looked much like the first, and while Brown chose down first in the third tiebreaker period, he was unable to get out.
Perry was able to escape Brown's control, though, and fended off a pair of fine shots from Brown before the final horn.
"He had to score points," Sanderson said of Brown. "You don't usually beat a national champion with one takedown. That's what he was trying to do, and he was real close to scoring."
Close Second: Following Perry's win, the energy in Rec Hall dipped a bit, but only for approximately six minutes.
Penn State trailed by three, 12-9, entering a 184-pound showdown between Ed Ruth and Oklahoma State's Nolan Boyd.
The Cowboy seemed game for the challenge of holding Ruth to no more than a major, but with Ruth leading 12-4 following a reversal, he finally locked up a tilt that pinned Boyd at the 5:41 mark to give Penn State a 15-12 lead.
"That was huge," Sanderson said. "That was, in a way, kind of sealing the dual because we were confident in [197-pounder Morgan] McIntosh."
Ruth said he went for the move because his neck was starting to hurt, but State needed the bonus points because 197 would be tight and it wasn't favored at heavyweight. At least on paper.
As it turned out, though, ranked 197-pounder Blake Rosholt didn't travel with Oklahoma State this weekend, while normal 285-pound starter Austin Marsden had an injury. Neither wrestled, aiding the Lions to a sweep of the last three bouts with a total of 14 team points to seal the victory.
"Our heavyweight had a little bit of an injury; we might have used him (had the match not been sealed by that point), but I don't think I would have," Smith said. "We ran out of horses. You just hate to coach keeping the score down.
"I felt like the last three matches the opponents were scoring and you're outmatched. It's not an ideal situation I'd like to be in. Definitely felt that toward the end."
Ruth added he was thinking about his nearly 2-year-old daughter, Jade, before tilting Boyd for the final time because "she makes me happy."
Talking Taylor: Despite being ridden for an entire period for the second time in a month, Penn State 165-pounder David Taylor still knocked off Oklahoma State's fifth-ranked Tyler Caldwell 5-2.
Taylor, not one to be ridden often let alone an entire two minutes, scored a pair of takedowns and also received a penalty point to reach the margin of victory. But asked afterward if Taylor was healthy, Sanderson said he could probably use some rest.
"He's healthy," Sanderson said. "I think we need to rest him up a little bit, get him ready for the end of the season here just so he has more pop.
"That's an easy thing to do, and that's likely to be the kid he'll see at the national finals if they both make it and both wrestle well. David doesn't have to get ridden if he chooses not to. David will have his pop in March, no question."
Odds and Ends:
• McIntosh clinched the dual at 197-pounds with a 16-2 major decision over Kyle Crutchmer.
• Penn State won the takedown battle 20-7.
• Nico Megaludis kicked things off at 125-pounds with a 11-7 decision, and Zain Retherford stayed unbeaten at 141 with a 2-0 win. But the visitors took three of the meet's first five bouts. The Cowboys scored wins at 133, 149, and 157.
• With Jon Gingrich wrestling in place of Jimmy Lawson and Ethan Driver in place of Marsden, the Lion took a 14-5 major decision with 3:06 in riding time.