Sept. 2, 2000

Box Score| Quotes| Notes

By Rusty Miller
Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio – David Mitchell returned a fumble and an interception for scores and Michael Doss and Matt Wilhelm also provided defensive touchdowns as No. 16 Ohio State routed Fresno State 43-10 on Saturday before the largest crowd ever in Ohio Stadium.

Mitchell’s 34-yard fumble recovery came just 21 seconds after Doss plopped on another Bulldogs fumble in the end zone, giving the Buckeyes a 13-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Mitchell later took a tipped pass 51 yards for a touchdown and Wilhelm returned another pass 25 yards for a score.

Fresno State turned the ball over six times, including four interceptions thrown by quarterback David Carr. Ohio State does not keep track of defensive touchdowns in a game, but the school’s sports information office said it believed the four was a record.

The victory ended a three-game losing streak for Ohio State, trying to bounce back from a 6-6 season.

Ohio State’s defense provided almost all of the thrills for the record crowd of 96,583, breaking the mark of 95,537 set at the 1995 Notre Dame game.

The opener for both teams was the first played in the expanded 78-year-old stadium. Two years into a three-year rebuilding program that will cost $187 million, new permanent stands were built in what used to be the open end of the “Horseshoe” and 19 rows were added atop the second deck. In addition, the field was lowered 14 1/2 feet to accommodate expanded seating near the field. The crowd was quiet late in the first quarter after the Buckeyes failed to score on four runs from inside the Fresno State 2.

But two plays later, after taking over at their 6-inch line, the Bulldogs made their first big mistake. Derrick Ward ran up the middle and was hit by Ryan Pickett and fumbled. Doss, laying on the grass on the goal line, reached out with his hand and raked in the ball for the score.

The Buckeyes were assessed a celebration penalty after the TD, with Dan Stultz missing the extra-point attempt.

After the kickoff Carr flipped a first-down pass to David Shabaglian at the right sideline, but he dropped the ball. Mitchell picked it up in stride and raced 34 yards for the score.

Again Ohio State was penalized for excessive celebration, but this time Stultz converted to make it 13-0.

The Buckeyes were leading 20-0 early in the third quarter when they were again stopped on a fourth-and-1, at the Fresno 40. But Carr’s pass to the right sideline was tipped at the line and sailed to Mitchell near midfield. He coasted into the end zone.

Wilhelm picked off another Carr pass and rumbled 25 yards for a touchdown late in the game.

Carr finished 26-of-44 for 238 yards with the four interceptions.

Ohio State’s offense also struggled all day. In addition to the two drives that stalled on fourth down, quarterback Steve Bellisari fumbled a center snap that was returned 46 yards by Orlando Huff. But Doss intercepted Carr on the next play.

Bellisari was erratic throwing the ball, but had a 23-yard TD pass to Chad Cacchio.

Fresno State’s points came on a 25-yard field goal by Asen Asparuhov and a 10-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Grady to Marque Davis with 5 seconds remaining.

After covering the onside kick with just three seconds left, Ohio State elected to throw a bomb. Scott McMullen heaved a 44-yard TD pass to Ricky Bryant on the last play of the game.