Written by: Big 33 Staff on July 24, 1999.
Pennsylvania thought they finally had Ohio’s number in the 1999 PNC Bank Big 33 Football Classic. So did the fairly partisan crowd of 17,283 on a hot summer night in well-prepared Hersheypark Stadium.
The Keystone State contingent jumped out to a 14-0 lead. It was the best start for Pennsylvania in more than a decade, but it didn’t alter the outcome. Ohio came roaring back and went home with a 21-14 victory.
The turning point in the Big 33 Classic was Ohio’s touchdown with just 12 seconds to play in the first half.
Pennsylvania got its initial score on a slick 21-yard run by Lebanon’s speedy Mike Kitchen. After a scoreless first quarter, Pennsylvania was on the move. Rod Rutherford hooked up with Art Thomas on a 43-yard pass. Rutherford followed with a 19-yard toss to Kitchen on the second play of the second quarter.
With Ohio unsure of itself and being rocked back on its heels by the passing attack, Kitchen got the ball on a draw play, found a gaping hole at the line of scrimmage and bolted into the secondary.
Ohio continued to be stopped by the Pennsylvania defense. The Buckeyes couldn’t stop Bruce Perry, the fastest player on the Pennsylvania roster. He bolted off tackle and was untouched on his 51-yard touchdown run.
Then came the dive that turned the game around. Ohio went to a ball control attack and marched 77 yards on 14 plays and three costly Pennsylvania penalties. With time winding down, Richard Hall sprinted into the end zone to trim the 14-7 lead.
The home team was in trouble when Lee Evans returned a punt to the Pennsylvania 27. Three plays later, Deryck Toles smashed over from the one and it was all tied at 14-14.
Hall got his second score of the night and this one was the winner. Scott McMullen’s pass to Jade Pruitt got his team in scoring position. Hall, who appeared to be in trouble, broke free of two tacklers at the line of scrimmage and went 24 yards for the score.