There was no storybook start for Bill O’Brien in his debut as Penn State’s football coach.
The Nittany Lions were shut out in the second half by Ohio on Saturday and lost, 24-14.
Before a capacity crowd of more than 97,000 at Beaver Stadium, Penn State jumped out to a 14-3 lead at the half.
But in the end the Nittany Lions were done in by three turnovers -- and Ohio quarterback Tyler Tettleton.
Tettleton completed 31 of 41 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns. He had a hand in all three Ohio second-half touchdowns, passing to Landon Smith for 43 yards, bouncing in himself on a one-yard run, and hooking up with Donte Foster on a five-yard scoring pass.
Ohio, one of the favorites to win the Mid-American Athletic Conference title, outgained Penn State, 499 yards to 352.
Penn State quarterback Matt McGloin completed 27 of 48 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
O’Brien, former offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots, was brief in his comments during a television interview after the game.
“Gotta coach better, gotta play better and got a long way to go,” he said in summary.
Asked what happened in the second half, he said, “We didn’t do anything on offense and left our defense on the field too long.”
Yes, that pretty much summed it up.
This was the first game at Penn State without a Paterno on the coaching staff since 1949. Joe Paterno was fired in November after 46 seasons as head coach in the wake of the arrest of former assistant Jerry Sandusky on child molestation charges. In January, Paterno died of lung cancer.
Jay Paterno, Joe’s son and a quarterbacks coach, has also left the staff.
Sue Paterno, Joe’s wife, attended the game with other family members. The Paternos have said they would continue to attend games to show support for the team.
Even hours before the game, fans waited for the team to arrive at the stadium. And when the Nittany Lions’ buses pulled up, there was a “Joe Pa-ter-no” chant before the crowd turned its cheers toward O’Brien and the players.
Where a statue of Paterno used to stand outside the stadium, someone had placed a bobblehead likeness of the former coach. Some fans no doubt felt a void.
One tailgating group sported a large homemade sign reading “409 wins with honor,” and some fans wore T-shirts with the slogan “We Are .. Still Proud.”
Other fans wore “We Bill-ieve” shirts in support of O’Brien.
Before kickoff, more than 80,000 fans chanted “We are ... Penn State!” There was also a moment of reflection for victims of sexual abuse.