Ohio Holds On For Big 33 Victory

Thanks to a 28-point, first-quarter outburst, Ohio ran its streak to three consecutive wins over Pennsylvania in the 48th annual Big 33 Classic. Despite successful modifications to the defensive game plan which limited Ohio to just six points the rest of the way, error-prone Pa. fell 34-28.

Pennsylvania showed signs of life early, scoring on the opening play from scrimmage on a 70-yard pass from Shane Murray to Ed Collington Jr. Kevin Kelly added the point after to give Pa. its first Big 33 lead in the last three contests. The lead was short-lived, however, as two plays later, Ohio quarterback Robby Schoenhoft hit Mario Manningham with a 77-yard strike, and the offensive explosion was on.

Ohio would score three more unanswered touchdowns before Pa. could answer with a 77-yard pass play from Murray to LaRod Stephens-Howling. The first quarter ended with Ohio holding a 28-14 advantage.

Fueled by Sean Lee, who led all Pa. defenders with seven tackles, the Pennsylvania defense stiffened. Pa. opened the scoring in the second quarter with a 72-yard scoring strike to Carmen Connolly from Brad Dawson to pull within a touchdown at 28-21. Ohio was able to muster a score midway through the quarter, but Zoltan Mesko's PAT attempt failed, and at the half, Ohio held a 34-21 lead.

An inspired Pennsylvania defense pitched a shutout in the second half, but the error-prone offense, which turned the ball over six times on three fumbles and three interceptions, was only able to manage one more touchdown on a Collington plunge midway through the third period. A late Pennsylvania drive was seemingly stopped by a fourth Ohio interception with less than three minutes remaining on the clock, but Ohio was called for playing an illegal zone defense under Big 33 rules, and Pa. maintained posession. Any last-minute heroics by Pennsylvania were crushed, however, when the series ended on downs with 58 seconds remaining, and Ohio ran out the clock.

Future Nittany Lions fared well in the contest, with place-kicker Kelly (middle photo in series) going 4 for 4 on PAT attempts. Kelly handled all place-kicking and punting for Pa., and Ohio was able to manage just 41 yards on three kickoff returns.

Lee (bottom photo in series) paced the defense and Knowledge Timmons (top photo in series) recorded three tackles while providing tight coverage that prevented Ohio from throwing in his direction. Timmons was also a major factor in defensive adjustments designed to put additional pressure on the Ohio quarterbacks, credited with shutting down Ohio's scoring machine from the second quarter on. He returned one kickoff for 31 yards, as well.

Over the next few days, FOS will feature post-game audio interviews from the Penn State participants, along with photo galleries and continuing coverage of the Big 33 Classic.


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