OU’s day started going downhill right from the outset. Two plays into the game, quarterback Phil Bates rolled left and tried to hit LaVon Brazill at the sideline. Devon Torrence broke the pass up and Tyler Moeller was on the spot to make the pick. Terrelle Pryor immediately hooked up with Jake Stoneburner for 13 yards to the Bobcat 18, but his next toss to Dane Sanzenbacher was off the mark. Little did anyone know but it would be a LOOOONG time before another Pryor pass would hit the ground on this day. The opening drive stalled and Devin Barclay was called on for a 32-yard field goal attempt. With a seemingly fresh leg after his overly busy day against Miami, Barclay hammered it through and the Bucks led 3-zip. All well and good, but yet another redzone meltdown.
Things continued to sour for the guests from Athens. A center snap got by Phil Bates, enabling Tyler Moeller to ring up a 12-yard TFL. Paul Hershey did manage to boom a 54-yard punt to tilt the field a bit, but Pryor was on fire and made up ground in no time. Freshman Corey Brown ignited the drive with a 9-yard reverse, and two plays later Pryor and Posey connected on a 35-yard catch-and-run on a play that Pryor doesn’t make a year ago. But on the next snap, Terrelle did exactly what he’s been doing since he set foot on campus- making something out of seemingly nothing with his feet. Not finding anyone open from the Bobcat 13, Pryor fake-pumped and beat corner Shannon Ballard to the corner for another score.
After another quick three-and-out from the Silver Bullets, Joe Bauserman and the rest of the second-team “O” entered the fray. Jordan Hall tore off a big 25-yard chunk on a dumpoff pass, highlighting a march to the OU 16, but the offense sputtered and again it was up to Devin Barclay, who converted a 33-yard field goal to fatten the lead to 20-0.
Ohio continued to self-destruct, as Phil Bates was stripped by Ross Homan on the second play of the next possession. Nate Williams scooped up the football and back came the OSU offense. Pryor dialed up Sanzenbacher for 21, pitched to Taurian Washington for 4 and finalized the short drive with a ridiculously easy 5-yard strike to Stoneburner in the corner of the endzone, opening up the Buckeye advantage to 27-0.
OU got a 31-yard kickoff return from Dallas Brown to gain excellent field position at their own 44, and when Bates got loose on a keeper for 16 and Ohio’s initial first down of the day, it looked like they’d finally found a spark. But disaster struck as Vince Davidson couldn’t handle an option pitch. After a scramble, Cameron Heyward gathered the ball up and although he didn’t cover as much ground on the return as his long-distance pick last week, he still put his team in great field position at the OU 40.
Terrelle Pryor skirted the right side, and flat kicked it into another gear in the open field, steaming ahead for 27 yards before getting stopped at the OU 13. Taurian Washington contributed again with an 11-yard catch to set up a 2-yard jaunt to paydirt for “Boom” Herron, who followed the law firm of Boren and Boren to the endzone. Following the PAT, the Buckeye lead ballooned to 34-0.
The Bobcats could do nothing against the OSU defense, but punter Paul Hershey pinned the Bucks back at their 2 with another strong boot. A 10-yard, third-down quick out to DeVier Posey gave the Scarlet and Gray some breathing room, but the Bobcat “D” toughened and forced the first Buckeye punt of the day.
Despite decent field position, the Ohio State defense forced a 4th-and-1. Bates tried to move the chains with a keeper, but Tyler Moeller filled the gap and stuffed Bates for a loss of 1. Terrelle Pryor and Co. had one final chance for first half points, and the big signal-caller fired three more completions to move the ball to the OU 22. Pryor had Sanzenbacher wide open on the next play in the endzone, but the throw was low and without a lot of mustard, giving Hilton Dawson the time to close and knock it away. The incompletion snapped a school-record streak of 16 consecutive completions for Pryor, and seemed to deflate the entire offense. Terrelle couldn’t avoid a blitz and was dropped for a loss of 8, and then tried to force a deep throw into double coverage for Taurian Washington. T-Wash never had a chance as Donovan Fletcher came over from his safety slot to make an easy pick, vanquishing the threat as the first half ended.
The Bucks got off to a fast start in the second half. “Boom” Herron racked up 8 yards on both of his first two carries, and Jake Stoneburner continued his productive day with a 10-yard reception. But from there things stalled, with Julian Posey getting the better of his brother by breaking up a third-down pass intended for DeVier. Then came fourth down, and just like the guy who sticks his finger in the hole in the wall to keep the water from gushing out only to have another leak spring, the special teams found a new way to aggravate Buckeye Nation as Ben Buchanan had his punt blocked by Donte Foster. The Buckeye defense quickly filed that gaffe under “no harm, no foul” as Orhian Johnson dislodged the football from Dallas Brown two plays later. Devon Torrence snapped it up, but the offense could do nothing about it. The teams then traded picks as Ross Homan plucked one of Phil Bates’ passes and Terrelle Pryor gave it right back as Donovan Fletcher victimized him for the second time in the game. Apparently not trusting their sputtering offense, the Ohio State defense took matters into their own hands and threw a pair up on the board as Cameron Heyward buried Vince Davidson in the endzone for a safety, widening the OSU lead to 36-7.
Jordan Hall had a nice 20-yard return of the ensuing free kick, and with Brandon Saine piling up 25 yards on three totes and Terrelle Pryor dialing up “Boom” Herron for 15, the hosts moved to a first-and-goal at the OU 6. The Bobcat “D” didn’t back down, forcing a fourth-and-goal from the one. Jim Tressel rolled the dice and was rewarded as Herron plowed over the left side for the score, making it 43-0 as the third quarter wound down.
Both teams traded 51-yard punts on their initial fourth quarter possessions, with the Bobcats coming out ahead in the field position game, starting at their own 39. With Boo Jackson now in at quarterback, OU pieced together their only scoring march of the day. Jackson hooked up with Riley Dunlop for 27, and Dallas Brown followed with 15 more on the ground to move Ohio to the redzone. The OSU “D” forced a 4th-and-1, but Jackson converted with a keeper to the OSU 6. Following a false start, Jackson aired a fade to Terrence McCrae to spoil the shutout.
Ohio State winds up its four-game homestand this Saturday with a 3:30 tilt against Eastern Michigan. OU heads to Huntington to square off with Marshall at 7PM.
RANDOM THOUGHTS- The last time Ohio State scored at least 36 points in its first three games of a season was 1969, when they came out of the gate with 62-0, 41-14 and 54-21 wins. The only other two times a Buckeye team has accomplished the feat were in the “Chic” Harley era. The 1917 squad posted four consecutive shutouts to kickoff the campaign while ringing up 49, 53, 40 and 67 points, respectively. “Chic’s” senior year of 1919, the Bucks started out with three shutouts while tallying 38, 46 and 49…I had the pleasure at the Post Office window this week to visit with Cecil “Cy” Souders, a member of the 1942 national championship team. Souders, a Bucyrus, Ohio native, lettered as an end from ’42-’44 and again in ’46 thanks to relaxed wartime eligibility regulations. He was Ohio State’s MVP in 1946, the same year he earned first-team All-Big Ten recognition and an All-American nod. While I’m sure he’s proud of those accomplishments, I think both he and his lovely wife are even prouder of 70 years of marital bliss…Alright, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet (and I can’t imagine there aren’t too many), here’s YouTube video of the buffoonery between Brutus Buckeye and Rufus the Bobcat from Saturday’s pregame-