Pennsylvania squanders lead, loses in Big 33

Posted: June 17, 2012

HERSHEY - Pennsylvania came within fingertips - oh, so many fingertips - of winning its first Big 33 game over Ohio in four years Saturday night.

There were Skyler Mornhinweg's fingertips, which didn't get enough air under a fourth-quarter pass. There were Desmon Peoples' fingertips, which muffed a kickoff and led to the second of Ohio's two touchdowns in a matter of 20 seconds.

And there were the fingertips of Rushel Shell. Mornhinweg's overtime pass bounced off those fingertips and into the hands of Ohio's Nana Kyeremeh to seal the victory for the Buckeye state.

Ohio scored the final 17 points, capitalizing on back-to-back Pennsylvania mistakes and five second-half turnovers, to capture their fourth straight Big 33 contest, 24-21, in overtime at Hersheypark Stadium.

Ohio's Tyler Grassman kicked a 39-yard field goal in overtime, and then Pennsylvania had its chance to put points on the board.

A touchdown to win it. A field goal to force double overtime. Anything else, and Pennsylvania would lose.

On Pennsylvania's first play in overtime, Mornhinweg's pass bounced off Shell's fingertips and into the hands of Kyeremeh.

"I forced a couple throws," said Mornhinweg, a Florida recruit who quarterbacked St. Joseph's Prep as a senior last season.

"There's no excuse. I made some passes I shouldn't have. I'm just glad to have had the opportunity to play out here."

Midway through the fourth quarter, Pennsylvania recovered a fumble to stop a marching Ohio offense and had the ball with a two-touchdown lead and less than seven minutes to play.

That's when things got crazy.

On Pennsylvania's first play from its own 22, Mornhinweg threw an interception that was returned to Pennsylvania's 11. Four plays later, Tyler O'Connor punched in a quarterback sneak to cut the lead to a touchdown with six minutes left.

Pennsylvania was still in control. It had a touchdown lead and was about to get the ball.

When Ohio kicked off, though, Peoples, of Archbishop Wood, muffed the kick on the 1-yard line, went back into the end zone to take a knee, but realized it would have resulted in a safety and didn't let his knee touch the ground.

Peoples tried to make a move to his left, but fumbled the football at the 1 and Jimmy Rousher bounced on it and took it in for Ohio's second touchdown in less than 20 seconds.

Just like that, a 21-7 lead had turned into a 21-21 tie.

Mornhinweg threw a first-quarter touchdown strike, but ended with four interceptions.

Nate Smith, of Archbishop Wood, and Kiser Terry, of Neshaminy, led a stingy Pennsylvania defense.

"We can't harp on things like that," Terry said of the six Pennsylvania turnovers. "In this game, you just have to go out and move on to the next play."

Even despite the turnovers, Pennsylvania had a good opportunity in overtime with single coverage on the outside. But the pass bounced off one set of fingertips and into another.

Ohio   0 0 7 14 3 – 24

Pennsylvania   7 7 7 0 0 – 21

P: Corey Jones 61 pass from Skyler Mornhinweg (Bryant Myer kick)

P: J.P. Holtz 15 pass from Blake Rankin (Myer kick)

O: Najee Murray 85 pass from Tyler O'Connor (Tyler Grassman kick)

P: Kevin Gulyas 4 pass from Rankin (Myer kick)

O: O'Connor 1 run (Grassman kick)

O: Jimmy Rousher 1 run with fumble (Grassman kick)

O: FG Grassman 39


Contact Chad Graff at 215-854-4550 or cgraff@philly.com.

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