Ohio State survives scare from in-state rival CincinnatiPosted: Saturday September 21, 2002 7:41 PM
CINCINNATI (AP) -- So this is why Ohio State never plays an in-state opponent on the road.
Cincinnati receivers dropped two touchdown passes in the final minute as the No. 6 Buckeyes held on for a 23-19 victory over the Bearcats on Saturday before the largest crowd to ever witness a sporting even in Cincinnati.
Ohio State (4-0) was playing in Cincinnati for the first time in 91 years and venturing on the road to play an in-state school for the first time since 1916.
Ahead 19-14 midway through the fourth quarter, the Bearcats (1-2) lost the ball and eventually the lead when Ohio State defensive end Darrion Scott leveled quarterback Geno Guidugli with a blind-side hit on 2nd and 7 at the Ohio State 44.
Quarterback Craig Krenzel scored on a twisting scramble with 3:44 left to give Ohio State the lead before Guidugli led a drive from his own 20 to a first down at the Buckeyes' 15 with 1:01 left.
On first down, Guidugli threw a pass to the right corner of the end zone where Jon Olinger had beaten freshman defensive back E.J. Underwood. Olinger had a clear shot at the ball, but dropped it as half of the red-clad Paul Brown Stadium record crowd of 66,319 groaned.
Guidugli had an incompletion on second down but tossed a perfect throw on the fade route into the left corner of the end zone on third down. George Murray dived and appeared to have the ball for an instant before it slipped through his hands.
On fourth down with 32 seconds remaining, Guidugli stepped to the line and barked signals. He dropped and threw into the middle of the end zone where his pass was tipped away by Ohio State linebacker Matt Wilhelm and intercepted by Will Allen -- touching off a celebration around Allen, who wears No. 26, with 26 seconds left.
The Buckeyes then ran out the clock.
Guidugli completed 26-of-52 passes for 324 yards and one touchdown.
In addition to his TD run, Krenzel had touchdown passes covering 20 yards to Ben Hartsock and 5 yards to Chris Vance. He provided just enough offense to overcome a lethargic and mistake-prone Ohio State team that trailed most of the day.
Krenzel was 14-of-29 passing for 129 yards with two interceptions.
Ohio State was without freshman phenom Maurice Clarett, but backup tailback Lydell Ross had a career-best 130 yards rushing.
Clarett, who piled up 471 rushing yards and six touchdowns in the Buckeyes' first three games, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Tuesday morning. He stood on the sidelines in his game jersey, wearing gray shorts and a knee brace.
In the first half Cincinnati dominated -- and Ohio State made mistake after mistake -- yet the Bearcats led just 12-7 at the half.
The Buckeyes' Maurice Hall lost a fumble, Craig Krenzel threw two interceptions and Chris Gamble's 96-yard kickoff return was called back by a holding penalty. In addition, Ohio State's defense jumped offsides on a 3rd-and-1 play and wide receiver Michael Jenkins was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that forced the Buckeyes to pass on the next down. Krenzel was then picked off by Blue Adams, one of his two interceptions in the first half.
Ohio State was helped by Cincinnati's own gaffes.
Guidugli hit on 6 of 7 passes for 79 yards on Cincinnati's first possession of the game, with DeMarco McCleskey scoring on a 1-yard run off an option pitch from Guidugli. The Bearcats used a no-huddle offense and frequently had five wide receivers running pass routes.
Jonathan Ruffin, riding the longest extra-point conversion streak (65) in school history, was wide on the point-after kick. It was a miss that would loom large on the last drive when the Bearcats were four points down.
Ruffin did make a 44-yard field goal and a career-best 49-yarder, but was well short on another 49-yard attempt.
The Bearcats got no points on drives that included first downs at the Ohio State 37 (after Hall's fumble on a hit by Jason Hunt was recovered by Jamar Enzor), the UC 45 (after Blue's first interception), and the Ohio State 34 and 49. Drives fizzled on the latter two possessions.
Guidugli hit Tye Keith on a 5-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter for a 19-14 lead.
The game took on a life of its own in recent days, since Ohio State seldom plays another Ohio college anywhere but at Ohio Stadium.
The Buckeyes, who did not even play an in-state opponent from
1934 to 1992, have not lost to another Ohio school since a 7-6
setback to Oberlin in 1921. They had not lost a road game to
another in-state opponent since a 9-0 loss to Case in 1910.