No. 13 Ohio St. 40, Ohio 16
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ Ohio State received a scare _ for a half.
Stunned by a halftime tie with 43-point underdog Ohio University, the No. 13 Buckeyes stormed back in the second half for a 40-16 victory Saturday.
``I was shocked at halftime (by the 10-10 score). I really couldn’t believe it,″ said Buckeyes linebacker Na’il Diggs.
It was shocking, considering that Ohio State hasn’t lost to an in-state opponent since 1921.
But the Buckeyes (2-1) took over in the third quarter as Michael Wiley ran for two touchdowns and Steve Bellisari threw a 68-yard TD pass to Ken-Yon Rambo.
``The longer you let a team live like we did in the first half, the tougher job you’ve got,″ said Ohio State coach John Cooper. ``It’s like a heavyweight fight. If you don’t put somebody away early in the bout, they keep hanging on, hanging on, hanging on.″
Ohio State hasn’t lost to an in-state college since falling to Oberlin 7-6 in 1921. The Buckeyes have never lost to another Ohio college in Ohio Stadium’s 78 years.
Yet the Buckeyes almost lulled a crowd of 93,222 to sleep with lethargic play in the opening half. Ohio (0-3), which lost to Division I-AA Northern Iowa at home last week, used its option attack and big plays to frustrate the Buckeyes.
Meanwhile, the Buckeyes were stumbling and bumbling. Bellisari twice fell down after taking the snap with no defender near him. Another time, his perfect pass for fullback Jamar Martin went through Martin’s hands and was intercepted.
As a result, the Buckeye fans were eerily quiet.
``I thought the crowd was going to be a lot worse than it was,″ said Ohio running back Jamel Patterson, shaking his head.
The Bobcats held a 10-3 lead late in the second quarter after Chad Brinker’s 3-yard run. That in itself was a victory. The Bobcats and Buckeyes had met four times from 1899-1902, with Ohio State winning by a combined 95-0.
The Bobcats almost maintained their lead into the second half, except for a controversial call.
Bellisari’s pass to Rambo gave the Buckeyes a 23-yard gain to the Ohio 20 before the ball squirted out of Rambo’s hands. The officials conferred before ruling Rambo’s knee was down when he lost control of the ball. TV replays were inconclusive.
``He dodged a bullet there in the first half when he fumbled the ball,″ Cooper said.
Three plays later, Bellisari connected with the diving Rambo for a 15-yard touchdown. Dan Stultz, who had earlier kicked a 31-yard field goal, added the extra point that gave Ohio State the tie.
The Buckeyes then took control in the third quarter, scoring three times in four offensive plays.
Bellisari’s 36-yard pass to Rambo and a 13-yarder to Vaness Provitt set up Wiley’s 1-yard touchdown dive for a 17-10 lead the first time Ohio State got the ball.
Ohio gained a yard on its next three plays after the kickoff. On fourth-and-9 at the 24, Ohio coach Jim Grobe had Dave Zastudil run out of punt formation but he was tackled by Tony Locke for a 9-yard loss.
``The fake punt was a gamble but it didn’t pay off,″ Grobe said. ``We came here to win. I thought they were going to bring the house to block the punt.″
On the next play, Wiley broke two tackles in a 15-yard scoring run to put the Buckeyes ahead 24-10.
Zastudil did punt the next time Ohio got the ball. Two plays later, Bellisari found Rambo for a 68-yard touchdown.
``I was gliding to the end zone,″ said Rambo, who finished with seven catches for 181 yards.
Ohio’s 17-year-old freshman quarterback, Dontrell Jackson, went down with what a trainer called a strained right shoulder. He spent the fourth quarter on the sidelines with a bag of ice taped to his shoulder, watching as the teams traded scores.
The Bobcats faced the 65-mile bus trip back home to Athens knowing that they didn’t get embarrassed.
``We still have a lot of work to do,″ Grobe said. ``We can develop into a good football team. And right now we’re getting closer.″