The pattern became all too familiar for Penn State. A whistle, a flag and a collective groan from the Beaver Stadium crowd of 107,000.
In their biggest game of the season, the Nittany Lions struggled to get out of their own way, tying a season-high with nine penalties for 85 yards in a 35-23 loss to Ohio State.
‚??We had some line-of-scrimmage penalties that hurt us,‚?Ě coach Bill O‚??Brien said. ‚??Jumping offsides and things like that where we were moving the ball but stalled the drive.‚?Ě
Beyond those, two flags wiped out punting situations for Ohio State to extend drives -- a personal foul against Adrian Amos for hitting a defenseless receiver and a extremely rare defensive holding penalty that occurred before the ball was in the air, giving Ohio State a first down.
The Buckeyes proceeded to score a touchdown on the extended drive to tie the game 7-7 at halftime.
Asked if he received an explanation for the call, O‚??Brien merely replied, ‚??No.‚?Ě
‚??You‚??re talking about a huge shift of momentum and field position,‚?Ě Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said of the penalty. ‚??Especially in an environment like this.‚?Ě
A false start made a fourth-down try by the offense too long to convert. A holding penalty on a second-and-goal from the 3 backed the offense up again, leading to a field goal instead of a touchdown.
‚??Those just kill drives,‚?Ě Penn State guard John Urschel said. ‚??Penalties really hinder your ability to get into the flow of the offense.‚?Ě
Penn State had been just the fifth Big Ten team in history to reach 5-2 after starting the season with two losses. That run ended with the loss, but the Lions still have a claim to a streak that no one else in the nation can claim.
The Lions blanked Ohio State in the first quarter, making them a perfect 8-for-8 in shutting out opponents in the opening 15 minutes this season. Penn State is the only FBS team to not allow any first-quarter points in 2012.
The record books weren‚??t of much comfort to Matt McGloin after the loss. But the senior from Scranton followed up a Friday visit from Lions great Kerry Collins by matching him on Saturday.
McGloin threw for a personal-best 327 yards, giving him four career 300-yard games, tying him with Collins for most in team history. It was also McGloin‚??s sixth consecutive game with at least 200 yards, matching Collins for the longest such streak in a Penn State uniform.
Collins, who led Penn State to a Big Ten title and an unbeaten season in 1994, was in State College for the weekend. The Berks County native talked to the team Friday and was at the game Saturday.
McGloin also became the seventh Penn State quarterback to top 5,000 career passing yards, ranking him seventh all-time. At 5,234 yards, he has a good shot at finishing the year in second place on the list, needing 636 yards in the final four games to pass Tony Sacca for second.
Zack Mills is the all-time leader with 7,212.
Penn State appeared to get through much of the game without issues on the injury front. But the last offensive snap of the night sent tight end Kyle Carter off for some treatment.
The redshirt freshman went airborne just in front of the end zone to haul in a 20-yard touchdown from McGloin to make the final score a bit closer.
But as he was landing, Ohio State safety Christian Bryant, hoping to jar the ball loose, went low on Carter, rolling up on the back of his left leg.
Carter went to the sideline to get ice on his left ankle and walked off the field before the final whistle under his own power. After the game, teammates said they didn‚??t know the exact nature of the injury, but it is believed to be minor.
Penn State‚??s tight ends finished with a very strong statistical day -- 10 catches for 134 yards and both of the Lions‚?? offensive touchdowns -- but much of that production came in the fourth quarter with Ohio State already comfortably ahead.
The Buckeyes, who looked vulnerable to a big day by the tight ends coming into the night because of a depleted linebacker corps, largely took away the intermediate routes in the middle of the field through three quarters.
‚??I think Ohio State did a good job on the tight ends,‚?Ě O‚??Brien said. ‚??I think the tight ends had some catches tonight, so I wouldn‚??t say that they were totally shut down. But I‚??ll give Ohio State a lot of credit. They came in here and played really well.‚?Ě
Losses by both Penn State and Purdue hurt their spot in the TV pecking order.
The Lions travel to West Lafayette to meet the Boilermakers for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday, with the broadcast being relegated to ESPNU.
Purdue, a dark horse pick to win the Leaders Division before the season, has now lost four in a row, the latest being an especially embarrassing 44-28 blowout against Minnesota.