Henderson, No. 5 Ohio State hold off No. 20 Penn State 33-24

Oct 30, 2021, 8:34 AM | Updated: 10:28 pm
Ohio State receiver Chris Olave, left, celebrates his touchdown against Penn State with tight end J...

Ohio State receiver Chris Olave, left, celebrates his touchdown against Penn State with tight end Jeremy Ruckert during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

              Ohio State running back TreVeyon Henderson runs the ball against Penn State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
            
              Ohio State defensive lineman Jerron Cage celebrates his touchdown against Penn State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. Cage recovered a fumble and ran it back for a touchdown. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
            
              Penn State receiver Parker Washington, top, hurdles Ohio State defensive back Bryson Shaw during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
            
              Ohio State defensive back Cameron Brown, left, tackles Penn State running back Noah Cain during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
            
              Ohio State receiver Chris Olave, left, celebrates his touchdown against Penn State with tight end Jeremy Ruckert during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Facing adversity for the first time in more than a month, Ohio State showed off the mettle the Buckeyes believe they’ll need to get through the rest of a rugged Big Ten schedule.

TreVeyon Henderson ran for 152 yards on a season-high 28 carries and No. 5 Ohio State made just enough long plays and short field goals to hold off No. 20 Penn State 33-24 on Saturday night.

The Buckeyes (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten) finally finished off the Nittany Lions (5-3, 2-3) on Noah Ruggles’ fourth field goal, a 26-yarder with 2:41 left to make it a nine-point lead.

Three days before the first College Football Playoff rankings, the Buckeyes like where they stand.

“We weren’t trying to get style points against Penn State,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said. “That’s not how it works.”

Coming off an ugly nine-overtime loss at home to Illinois, Penn State looked more like the team that had climbed into the top five before losing to Iowa in a game where quarterback Sean Clifford was injured.

“I thought we were more physical, broke some tackles, made some people miss things like that,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “We’ve got to continue to build on it.”

Clifford looked healthy and sharp, going 35 for 52 for 361 yards and a touchdown after a tentative performance last week. Still, the Nittany Lions lost their third straight to fall out of contention in the Big Ten East.

“I feel like I could have done so much more to change the outcome,” said Clifford, an Ohio native.

“We’re being tested right now,” he added.

Ohio State had hardly been tested since losing to Oregon in Week 2. Against Penn State, the Buckeyes played a lot like they did against the Ducks: struggling to finish drives and get off the field on third down.

The Buckeyes are tied for first in the East Division with unbeaten Michigan State, which defeated No. 6 Michigan in a thriller earlier Saturday. Ohio State finishes the season with consecutive games against the Spartans and Wolverines.

“College football right now, it’s about surviving and moving on,” Day said.

The highest-scoring team in the country was held out of the end zone for the first 26 minutes before two explosive plays in the span of about 1:24 gave Ohio State the lead.

C.J. Stroud floated a pass Chris Olave ran down for a 38-yard touchdown to make it 10-7 with 3:48 left in the first half.

Stroud finished with 305 yards passing.

Penn State responded by moving quickly into Ohio State territory, but Clifford was sandwiched by ends Tyreke Smith and Zach Harrison and the ball came loose. Jerron Cage scooped it up and sprinted untouched 57 yards for a touchdown to make it 17-7.

Harrison’s reaction when he saw Cage cruising toward the end zone? “What? Is he running for the score?”

Day laughed, pointing out Cage’s shaky ball security.

“He was carrying it like a loaf of bread,” Day said.

The 305-pound Cage was feted by teammates on the sideline with water and waving hands and towels to cool him off as he caught his breath.

Penn State tied it at 17 in the third quarter on a 2-yard TD run on direct snap to star receiver Jahan Dotson.

Henderson, after a false start on the goal line that forced Ohio State to settle for a field goal on its previous possession, ripped off a 68-yard run to setup a 1-yard scoring plunge by the fabulous freshman. That made it 27-17 with 3:35 left in the third.

“It was tough,” Henderson said “That was a physical game, but I stayed the course. We stayed the course.”

Penn State came right back with another long TD drive, finished off with Keyvone Lee’s 1-yard run to make it 27-24 heading into the fourth quarter.

Cam Brown’s interception in Penn State territory set up a 25-yard field goal by Ruggles to make it 30-24 with 4:03 left.

“These type of games are definitely needed when you go into this Big Ten play, especially this year, a lot of Big Ten teams are great,” Stroud said.

THE TAKEAWAY

Penn State: The Nittany Lions were almost unrecognizable from last week’s performance against Illinois when they could not stop a one-dimensional team from running all over them and could neither sustain drives nor convert a 2-point play on six of seven attempts.

Ohio State: A month of pummeling overmatched opponents had the Buckeyes looking as if they might be emerging as the clear favorites in the Big Ten East after some early struggles, especially on defense. The conference still runs through Columbus, but Ohio State appears vulnerable against teams with more comparable talent.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Penn State is in danger of being unranked for the first time this season while Ohio State is probably holding steady at best when the AP poll comes out Sunday.

UP NEXT

Penn State: The Nittany Lions look to snap their skid at Maryland.

Ohio State: The Buckeyes go to Nebraska next week.

___

Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.appodcasts.com

___

More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25 Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://apnews.com/cfbtop25

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, right, drives to the rim as Atlanta Hawks forward Onyeka Okongw...
Associated Press

Nuggets beat Hawks 128-108, tie Boston for NBA’s best record

DENVER (AP) — Jamal Murray scored a season-high 41 points, Nikola Jokic had his 18th triple-double of the season and the Denver Nuggets won their third straight game, beating the Atlanta Hawks 128-108 on Saturday night. Jokic finished with 14 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists and recorded the 94th regular-season triple-double of his career. […]
24 hours ago
Dallas Mavericks guard Spencer Dinwiddie (26) drives to the basket against Golden State Warriors gu...
Associated Press

Curry injures left leg leading Warriors over Mavs 119-113

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Stephen Curry went down and the Golden Warriors once again had to fight like crazy to close out a game. Curry had 21 points, seven assists and six rebounds before injuring his left leg defending a drive late in the third quarter, and the defending NBA champions defeated Dallas 119-113 on […]
24 hours ago
Fedor Emelianenko, rights, listens to interpreter Georgiy Litvinov during an interview in Los Angel...
Associated Press

Fedor Emelianenko loses to Bader in Russian star’s last bout

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Fedor Emelianenko placed his gloves on the canvas and then cracked a warm smile while nearly a dozen mixed martial arts greats behind him led the crowd in one last ovation. Although the Last Emperor says his career is over, his fans and fellow fighters won’t forget his greatness any time […]
24 hours ago
Miami Heat's Dewayne Dedmon (21) looks to shoot against Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo duri...
Associated Press

Antetokounmpo has triple-double; Bucks win 7th straight

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Giannis Antetokounmpo had a triple-double with 35 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the short-handed Miami Heat 123-115 on Saturday night for their seventh straight victory. “You kind of know what to expect from the Miami team,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’ve played them so many times. I’ve played […]
24 hours ago
Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (2) shoots in front of Houston Rockets forward ...
Associated Press

Gilgeous-Alexander scores 42 as Thunder blow out Rockets

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma City Thunder took what coach Mark Daigneault called a “bloodthirsty mentality” into Saturday’s rematch with the Houston Rockets. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 42 points to help the Thunder blow out Houston 153-121. They were disappointed in losing at Houston on Wednesday and responded by setting an Oklahoma City record for […]
24 hours ago
Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine, left, disputes a penalty called against him during the first half ...
Associated Press

Zach LaVine scores 36 as Bulls beat Trail Blazers 129-121

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls tried all sorts of defensive coverages on Damian Lillard. He kept scoring anyway. Just not enough to hold down Zach LaVine and company. LaVine scored 36 points, DeMar DeRozan had 27 and the Bulls topped Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers 129-121 on Saturday night. Nikola Vucevic added 23 […]
24 hours ago
Henderson, No. 5 Ohio State hold off No. 20 Penn State 33-24