Still amazed Lions beat Buckeyes in match for the ages

It’s been a few days since Penn State’s 19-18 thrilling win over Ohio State before a roof-rattling crowd at old Rec Hall.

I’m still amazed that the Nittany Lions won. It was a match for the ages.

But somehow, without the injured Jason Nolf in the lineup, the Lions used grit and determination to rally from 15-5 at halftime to beat the second-ranked Buckeyes.

Nobody seemed to have more grit and determination than Penn State 197-pounder Anthony Cassar, who upset top-ranked Kollin Moore, 5-3, to give the Lions a 19-15 lead.

Cassar had been the starter early in the season, but Shakur Rasheed, a pinner, has been the starter lately, and many expect him to wrestle Moore because of his pinning prowess.

But when Cassar came out, I have to admit I was confused. Why would they pick the unranked Cassar to wrestle the No. 1 guy?

“That’s something that you’re going to have to talk to (Casey) Cunningham (assistant coach) about,” Penn State coach Cael Sanderson joked.

Cassar took Moore down twice, and both times the crowd of 6,699 roared its approval. When the final seconds ticked off the clock, the crowd erupted in celebration.

I have never heard it that loud in Rec Hall in my life.

The fans cheered every Penn State point, big move and win, and they booed the referee, Ohio State wrestlers stalling and Ohio State coach Tom Ryan, who was in the ear of the official many times.

The Lions took a 19-15 lead into 285, where Nick Nevills had to face World and Olympic champion Kyle Snyder, who majored the Nittany Lion the last time they wrestled. Snyder tweeted earlier in the week that he wanted to “destroy” Penn State.

Instead Nevills took him down a couple times, nearly putting him on his back in the second period when Snyder tried a throw, tying the score at 9-9. Nevills ended up losing 15-10, but a loss by decision thrilled the Lions and their fans.

I thought when Nick Lee was upset by Joey McKenna, PSU was in trouble. But his teammates picked up the slack.

There were other heroes, of course, like:

Bo Nickal: The top-ranked Lion 184-pounder earned a 10-2 major decision over second-ranked Myles Martin. And he got that bonus point by scoring two nearfall points right before the final buzzer. Without that quick two, the dual meet ends in a draw and goes to criteria.

Carson Kuhn: Yes, he lost, 21-12, to Nathan Tomasello, but what an effort in his season debut. He gave the fans something to roar about right away when he matched the fourth-ranked Tomasello point for point in the first period. Kuhn shocked me when he headlocked the Buckeye for a takedown in the first period.

Vincenzo Joseph: Joseph held a 6-1 lead over Te’Shan Campbell, a Pitt transfer, going into the third period. Joseph, though, got the bonus point with two takedowns, a fleeing the mat point and a 1:59 riding time advantage.

Mark Hall: The second-ranked Hall was trailing third-ranked Bo Jordan, 4-3, in the third period when he hit a beautiful duck-under for a takedown with 1:15 remaining. Hall rode him the rest of the way.

Todd Irwin can be reached at tirwin@altoonamirror.com. He can be followed on Twitter at @ToddIrwin1.

COMMENTS