By Eric Shultz
For The Daily Item
UNIVERSITY PARK -- Sunday's match between three-time defending national champion Penn State and last season's runner-up certainly lived up to its hype.
All the way to the 184-pound bout, it was a classic shootout, with zero bonus points between the top-ranked Nittany Lions and No. 5 Oklahoma State. But after the Cowboys took a three-point lead following the rematch of last season's 174-pound national championship between Matt Brown and Chris Perry, No. 2 Ed Ruth swung the momentum Penn State's way with a pin.
The Lions rode that wave through the final two bouts, winning at sold-out Rec Hall on Sunday, 23-12.
"They won some close matches that we would've liked to obviously won, but that's a good team, too," Lions coach Cael Sanderson said. "These guys did a great job. ... Ed got the pin, which was much-needed at that point."
Ruth's pin broke a string of decisions that had the Lions behind, 12-9. In the first period, he nearly came close to decking Nolan Boyd in the waning seconds, but time ran out.
With 1:19 remaining in his bout, he finally got Boyd on his back for the pin. Boyd was the only unranked Cowboy to compete in the dual. Ruth said he thought Boyd was just getting tired by his last cradle.
"That was huge. That was, in a way, kind of sealing the dual because we were confident in (197-pounder Morgan) McIntosh, and confident in heavyweight, also," Sanderson said.
Ruth said that he wasn't thinking of bonus points entering the matchup.
"I was thinking about my daughter; it makes me happy," Ruth said, noting she is nearly 2 years old.
After Ruth, No. 3 McIntosh dominated at 197 against No. 16 Blake Rosholt. He had no problem defeating the senior, taking a 16-2 major decision and putting the Lions up by seven.
All that was left were the heavyweights, where unranked Jon Gingrich also won by major decision, 14-5.
Brown, ranked fourth by InterMat, and the second-ranked Perry made for arguably the most dramatic bout of the meet. Brown went for an early takedown but was caught and lost two points. The pair battled to a 2-2 deadlock in the second period before Brown was awarded a stalling point. Perry escaped in the third, and the bout went to two tiebreakers.
There were several opportunities for points in the extra time, and Perry ultimately took advantage with an escape. He fended off a late attempt to win 4-3. Brown lost to Perry in last season's championship bout.
"Those are two of the best in the country and made for a great match," Sanderson said.
"You don't usually beat a national champion with one takedown," he added. "You got to get more than one takedown, and that's what he was trying to do early."
No. 2 Nico Megaludis started things off with a comeback at 125 pounds, turning a 5-1 second-period deficit to No. 13 Eddie Klimara into an 11-7 victory.
Benton High graduate and former Line Mountain state champion Zain Retherford also won at 141 pounds. The freshman used a third-period escape and riding time to take a 2-0 decision against No. 19 Anthony Collica.