STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- No one in Penn State blue and white wanted to admit it, but it appeared the Nittany Lions were outmanned by Ohio University in a 24-14 loss that ruined the coaching debut of Bill O'Brien on Saturday at Beaver Stadium.
Trailing by 11 points at halftime, the Bobcats outscored Penn State 21-0 in the second half as quarterback Tyler Tettleton ran for one touchdown and passed for two more. Tettleton completed 31 of 41 passes for 324 yards and running back Beau Blankenship carried 31 times for 109 yards as Ohio totaled 499 yards of offense.
When Penn State was hit with a four-year bowl ban among other harsh NCAA sanctions in June, nine players transferred, including running back Silas Redd and wide receiver Justin Brown. They were sorely missed by an offense that had trouble keeping drives going, thanks to three turnovers. As a result, the Nittany Lions' defense wore down in the second half.
Asked if he sensed a manpower problem, O'Brien issued a terse "No." But he later said: "I just think we need to do a better job of sustaining drives so the defense can get off the field. We've got to string plays together and do a better job coaching the offense, and that starts with me . . . We lost to a better team today."
If there was one play that turned the tide, it came early in the second half when Landon Smith caught a pass from Tettleton that had been tipped and completed a 43-yard touchdown play that cut PSU's lead to 14-10.
"That hurt a bit," defensive tackle Jordan Hill said. "They scored, and the momentum shifted."
Tettleton, who is the son of former major-league baseball player Mickey Tettleton, completed 16 of 19 second-half passes for 207 yards and always seemed to have an answer on third down.
The Bobcats converted 14 of 22 plays on third and fourth down, and their touchdown drives covered 82, 70 and 93 yards.
Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin completed 27 of 48 passes, including touchdown throws of 6 yards to running back Bill Belton and 14 yards to tight end Matt Lehman for a 14-3 halftime lead. But it was downhill from there.
"We're extremely disappointed," offensive lineman John Urschel said. "At the same time, we can't get down and dwell on this loss and let it carry on. Coach O'Brien just told us to keep our heads up. We have 11 more to go. We have to move on."