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Last Saturday's first half belonged to Penn State although close observers noted that Ohio State led 6-0 at the break. The score was misleading. As advertised, the Lions' quarterback, John Andress, came out throwing, throwing, throwing. All week OSU had been hiding smirks because against Stanford, Andress had connected on only four of 18. And even Penn State insiders admitted privately to doubts that Andress could get the ball to any of a bevy of fleet receivers. Further, everyone knew that running at the Bucks' defense would cause the Penn State offense to self-destruct.
Midway through the first quarter the Lions, thanks to two completed passes, were at the Buckeyes' 26 with a fourth and inches. The try for inches failed, frittering away Great Scoring Chance No. 1.
Early in the second quarter OSU's Herman Jones put a firm tackle on Penn State's Gary Petercuskie. Unfortunately, Petercuskie was trying to catch a Tom Skladany punt at the time, and Jones' effort caused a 15-yard penalty, giving the Lions the ball on the Ohio State 35. Andress, blessed with little natural ability and a passing arm even less distinguished, zinged one 18 yards to Mickey Shuler. Four plays later Penn State had a second and goal on the six when an Andress pass was intercepted by Ray Griffin, Archie's brother, in the end zone. What had Paterno just said to Andress? The obvious, of course: "John, be careful." So long, Great Scoring Chance No. 2.
Whereupon, Ohio State went directly to the other end of the field, thanks mostly to a 48-yard run by a blur later identified as Jeff Logan, who had scored three times the previous Saturday against Michigan State. Fullback Pete Johnson, idle up to now, carried four times in a row for 14 yards—the same Pete Johnson who showed up late at picture day a few weeks ago after Woody had everyone positioned. An irate Hayes rewarded 1975's leading scorer in the nation by kicking his backside as all the others tried to maintain their photo faces.
After Johnson's fourth carry, Gerald ran in on an option from eight yards out, his third TD in two games.
Andress then completed four of five passes, and once again it was first and goal on the five. Two plays later Steve Geise fumbled a pitchout, and OSU's ever-alert Bob Brudzinski ("I've never had a Polish kid," says Woody, "who didn't try like the devil") fell on it. So long, Great Scoring Chance No. 3. Joe Paterno was then heard to mutter his favorite phrase, "Aw, nuts." He really says that.
All that happened in the third quarter was typical Ohio State—three yards and a cloud of divots. For better than eight minutes straight and for nearly 13 of the 15 minutes in the quarter, the Bucks had the ball. But failed to score. Penn State got the ball for a few moments, didn't harm it, and OSU got it right back early in the fourth quarter. Gerald moved the team to the Penn State eight, and on a fourth and one everyone settled back to watch Mr. Automatic, Skladany, wrap up the game with a field goal. Nope. Woody, that old fox, sent Bob Hyatt running in with the play. Hyatt is a reserve wing-back who is so highly regarded that his picture doesn't appear in the OSU press guide. Seconds later he took a pitchout from Gerald and went eight yards for the score. Gerald's two-point conversion run failed. Hyatt's entrance into the game was so surprising that when OSU Offensive Guard Jim Savoca later heard something about giving a game ball to Hyatt, he exclaimed, " Hyatt? What did he do?" What was it that made Woody act like a riverboat gambler? "We thought we could score," he said, explaining everything.
With about 10 minutes to play and the score 12-0, the Penn Staters weren't dead but their skin was taking on a pallor. The ball was on the OSU 43 when Paterno put in second-team Quarterback Chuck Fusina. He took the snap, dropped back and lofted a picture pass into the hands of Tom Donovan in the end zone. Who dropped it. "Aw, nuts," screamed Paterno. Receiver Coach Booker Brooks was especially aggrieved since he has instituted the concept of having all his receivers carry a football with them all through every practice, in the hope that if the object shows up in a game they will recognize it. Anyway, so long, Great Scoring Chance No. 4.
Fusina tried once more, futilely, before Andress came back in. He immediately salvaged a fourth-and-10, and with some classy running and cat catching by Rich Milot the ball got to the one, where freshman gem Matt Suhey carried it across. But time was on the wane and Andress was intercepted by Kelton Dansler on the OSU 45 on Penn State's next try. It was a sad ending for an otherwise superb day for Andress—16 of 29 passes completed for 178 yards. Paterno had predicted that a passing attack of 150 yards and one big play would win the day; there was no big play.
But if all the evidence supports the theory that Penn State had its chances, the facts are Ohio State had the poise and the ability to save its hide. And much of that credit goes to Woody, whose public-relations stance may be somewhat askew but whose won-lost record makes everything O.K. Hayes' logic isn't always straight up, either. The other day, for example, he was defending his closed practices before the Michigan State game by saying, "Any team that doesn't close practice before its first game is plumb crazy." Nobody at Ohio State could recall the last time Hayes made his practices secret before the first game.