COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford left the game against No. 2 Ohio State early in the third quarter after getting hit as he threw, and backup Will Levis finished for the ninth-ranked Nittany Lions.
Clifford went down awkwardly, with his right leg getting caught underneath his body. He managed to complete a pass on the play but stayed down and came off the field walking gingerly but without assistance.
Penn State coach James Franklin said Clifford could have come back in, but his mobility would have been limited. He chose to stick with Levis and the sophomore provided a spark with his legs — at least for a little while.
Levis helped Penn State complete a 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by Journey Brown’s 18-yard run, to make it Ohio State 21-7 with 8:19 left in the third quarter.
A fumble by Ohio State on its next offensive play set up Penn State in the red zone, and Levis ran for a 1-yard score to make it 21-14 moments later. Another Ohio State fumble led to a Penn State field goal that cut the lead to 21-17, but that was a close as it got.
With Levis, the Nittany Lions leaned heavy on the run, and eventually they couldn’t make enough plays. Levis finished with 34 yards rushing on 19 carries that included five sacks. He was 6 for 11 for 57 yards passing and threw an interception in the fourth quarter that ended Penn State’s last trip into Buckeyes’ territory on the day. The Nittany Lions lost 28-17.
They finish the regular season next week against Rutgers at home with a chance to finish 10-2 and be in consideration for a major bowl game.