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Sept. 11, 2004

By RUSTY MILLER
AP Sports Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Ohio State still has that last-minute magic.

Mike Nugent’s 55-yard field goal as time expired gave the ninth-ranked Buckeyes a 24-21 victory over Marshall on Saturday.

The Buckeyes (2-0) have won 13 of their last 14 games decided by a touchdown or less over the last two-plus seasons, including a 7-0 record while winning the national championship in 2002.

With the game tied, Ohio State took over at its own 45 after a poor punt by Marshall (0-2) with 25 seconds left.

Justin Zwick hit Santonio Holmes – who had 10 catches for 218 yards and two touchdowns – for gains of 9 and 8 yards. Zwick then completed a 5-yard pass to tight end Ryan Hamby, with the clock continuing to run because the Buckeyes were out of timeouts.

Zwick, who hit on 18 of 30 passes for 318 yards and three scores, was able to get under center and stop the clock by downing the ball with 2 seconds left, with a motion penalty called on the play.

Nugent then had more than enough leg to put the ball through out of a perfect hold by Kyle Turano. It matched the longest field goal in Ohio Stadium’s 82 years.

Marshall players hung their heads and fell to the field while the Buckeyes ran to the stands and exulted with a partisan crowd of 104,622.

The Buckeyes survived more than won, as the Thundering Herd missed a field goal and passed on another short field goal attempt in the final 16 minutes.

For the second week in a row, they didn’t force a turnover. Zwick threw two interceptions and the Buckeyes also lost two fumbles. They now have seven turnovers in two games and have no takeaways.

In addition, Holmes missed the entire third quarter with an injury and three-year starting cornerback Dustin Fox left the game at the half and watched the second half from the sideline, his left arm in a sling.

Trailing 21-14, Marshall drove 85 yards to the Ohio State 8 late in the third quarter. Rather than go for a field goal, coach Bob Pruett elected to have kicker Ian O’Connor to take a handoff from holder Scott Wilks on fourth-and-4. O’Connor ran into a pile of Ohio State defenders and was tossed for a 2-yard loss.

The Buckeyes then turned the ball over on three successive possessions. Holmes took an inside screen and was hit from behind by Willie Smith and fumbled, with Dionte Wilson recovering for the Thundering Herd.

After a Marshall punt, Zwick overthrew Ted Ginn Jr. over the middle and Chris Royal intercepted, returning it 16 yards to the Ohio State 26 with the ball moving to the 13 on a late-hit penalty.

Four plays later, Marshall quarterback Stan Hill, who was 22-for-34 for 140 yards, found Brad Bates on a 23-yard scoring pass to tie the game at 21.

On the first play after the ensuing kickoff, Zwick was picked off again by Royal at the Marshall 41. The Herd drove to a first down at the Ohio State 21 with about 5 minutes left. With 3:17 left, O’Connor hooked a 35-yard field goal attempt.

For the first time in Ohio Stadium, a play was video-reviewed by Big Ten officials – and it the call went against the Buckeyes.

Ahead 14-7, Ohio State took over at its own 20. Lydell Ross picked up six yards on first down, then tried the right side on second down. He was held up at the line by three tacklers when, suddenly, defensive end Jonathan Goddard bolted out of the pile and headed for the end zone, with linebacker J.T. Rembert leading a convoy of blockers.

Goddard stripped the ball from Ross before the runner fell to the turf and raced the 27 yards for the tying score. The play was reviewed by two Big Ten officials in the press box who determined the video showed “indisputable” proof that the Ross was not down when Goddard pilfered the ball.

On the next possession, Zwick hit Holmes for gains of 13, 9, 13 and 18 yards before finding Roy Hall on a crossing pattern for the 20-yard touchdown.

Ohio State had forged its early 14-7 lead on two Zwick-to-Holmes scoring passes covering 80 and 47 yards. The first was a perfectly timed and thrown post pattern with Holmes beating strong safety Curtis Keyes by a step.