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Smith, Ohio State avenge defeat to Penn State

Sep 23, 2006 - 10:37 PM COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- Troy Smith and Ohio State now are 2-for-2 in revenge games this year.

An improvised play by Smith helped the top-ranked Buckeyes overcame poor weather and No. 24 Penn State, 28-6, in the Big Ten Conference opener for last season's league co-champions.

Last season, Ohio State lost to Texas at home, 25-22, and to Penn State in Happy Valley, 17-10. Two weeks ago, the Buckeyes impressively defeated the Longhorns, 24-7, in the first regular-season 1-vs.-2 matchup in a decade.

"They never stopped fighting against a very good football team," Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel said. "Penn State is always going to be tough and they're always going to be there. They're smart. They know what you do. Our guys just rose up. And in the Big Ten it's always four-quarter games, and we won the four-quarter game."

Ohio State (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) was clinging to a 7-3 lead early in the fourth quarter when Smith was flushed out of the pocket by defensive end Tim Shaw. After running to his right, he reversed course and flung a pass down the middle that Brian Robiskie caught in the end zone for a 37-yard score with 12:56 to play.

"We practice scrambling drills like that all the time," Smith said. "The line gave me enough time to reverse field and put the ball in the air, and Robo just went up and made a great catch. You need moments like that when you're down and out, when things aren't going the way you want them to go. You've just got to keep going."

"You can't give up big plays in a game like this," said Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno, who was feeling ill and spent much of the second and third quarters in the locker room. "Smith made a super play when (he) got away from our guy and threw that pass right on the button."

Penn State (2-2, 0-1) marched down the field but fullback BranDon Snow was stuffed inside the 1 on 3rd-and-goal and guard Rich Ohrnberger was whistled for a false-start penalty on the next play, leaving the Nittany Lions to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Kevin Kelly with 7:33 left.

The Nittany Lions got the ball back after a three-and-out, but Anthony Morelli was intercepted by cornerback Malcolm Jenkins, who ran the ball back 61 yards for a clinching touchdown with 2:31 to go. Antonio Smith picked off Morelli five plays later and ran 55 yards untouched to the end zone to cap the scoring.

"Whenever your defense holds people to six points, you ought to have a chance," Tressel said. "And when your defense scores two touchdowns, it's pretty darn good."

The Buckeyes scored 14 points off their three interceptions of Morelli, while the Nittany Lions failed to score a point off their two picks of Smith, who completed just 12-of-22 passes for 115 yards. Morelli went 16-of-25 for 106 yards.

"We were pressing at the end to get the ball in the end zone," Morelli said. "We just could not get it done."

On the final play of the first half, Kelly pushed wide right a 23-yard field-goal attempt, but Jenkins ran into him, handing the Nittany Lions another play. Kelly followed by connecting on a 21-yard kick to give the visitors a 3-0 lead entering the break.

Less than 90 seconds into the third quarter, Penn State linebacker Dan Connor intercepted Smith at the Ohio State 26 after a deflection by defensive tackle Ed Johnson, but Kelly missed a 42-yard field goal wide left.

Antonio Pittman, who gained 110 yards on 20 carries, accounted for 55 yards on Ohio State's ensuing drive, giving the Buckeyes a 7-3 lead on a 12-yard run with 9:06 left in the period.

Tony Hunt rushed 24 times for 135 yards for Penn State, which is just 5-9 against Ohio State since joining the Big Ten in 1993.

"I felt we did a good job moving the ball," Hunt said. "We just made too many mistakes."

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