Oct 26, 2002
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COLUMBUS, Ohio – No. 4 Ohio State beat No. 17/18 Penn State 13-7 Saturday in front of a record crowd of 105,103 at Ohio Stadium to remain unbeaten. The Buckeyes improved to 9-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big Ten Conference.
Trailing 7-3 at the half, the Buckeyes needed a big play to start the second half. Chris Gamble, who started at both wide receiver and cornerback, picked off Mills for the third time in the game and returned it 40 yards, giving the Buckeyes a 10-7 lead just 2:53 into the second half.
Nugent added a second 37-yard field goal with 1:05 to play in the third quarter, extending his streak to 19 in a row, including 18 field goals this season. The score put the Buckeyes up 13-7 and capped a 14-play, 72-yard drive that guzzled 8:21 off the clock.
The six-point advantage would prove to be enough as the Buckeye defense held the Nittany Lions to just three first downs and 58 total yards of offense shutting out its opponent in the second half for the second consecutive game.
Penn State finished with just 179 total yards as the Buckeyes amassed 253, including 141 on the ground. Ohio State held the Nittany Lions to only 81 yards rushing.
Ohio State drove 79 yards on its opening possession of the game and was threatening to take the ball into the end zone for a score, but on a well-defended third-and-goal pass play from the 5-yard line, Krenzel pulled back and ran up the middle to the 1-yard line where he fumbled the ball. It was picked up by Anwar Phillips and returned 58 yards to the OSU 41-yard line.
Freshman tailback Maurice Clarett had a key 30-yard gain on the drive that gave him more than 1,000 yards rushing for the season. It was the longest run allowed by Penn State this season. Clarett injured his shoulder in the first quarter and did not return, finishing the game with 39 yards rushing on four carries. He now has 1,019 rushing yards this season, just 107 yards behind the Ohio State freshman record of 1,126 by Robert Smith.
Ohio State used four backs to account for 141 yards on the ground. Lydell Ross had 21 carries for 40 yards. Craig Krenzel completed 13-of-20 passes for 112 yards. He was picked off twice, which doubled his season total entering the game.
The Buckeyes promptly re-took control of the ball on an interception by A.J. Hawk on a Zack Mills’ pass that was tipped at the line by Ohio State defensive tackle Tim Anderson. After driving to the PSU 33-yard line, Penn State backed up the Buckeyes 14 yards and forced them to punt.
The Nittany Lions took an early 7-0 lead on a 5-yard touchdown run by tailback Larry Johnson with 33 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Penn State moved 80 yards in nine plays keyed by a 35-yard scamper by Johnson.
Mills was picked off for the second time of the game, this time by defensive end Will Smith. The Buckeyes converted the turnover into a field goal as Nugent connected on his 18th consecutive field goal, a kick of 37 yards to pull within a 7-3 score with 6:16 to play in the first half.
The Buckeyes drove down to the PSU 34-yard line and then threw an incomplete pass to Chris Vance in the end zone, but Penn State was flagged for roughing the passer. Taking the ball at the 19-yard line, Krenzel found Vance for a 5-yard gain, but the ball came out and the Nittany Lions recovered. Penn State was forced to punt. Krenzel was picked off for just the third time this season trying to find Vance down the right sideline as the first half expired.
Ohio State had 166 total yards in the first half to Penn State’s 121. The Nittany Lions out-gained the Buckeyes by 10 yards on the ground, but the Buckeyes had an 89-yards to 34-yard advantage through the air.
Johnson followed up a 257-yard performance last week against Northwestern with a 16-carry, 66-yard day against the Buckeyes. It was the lowest rushing output of the season. Mills completed 14-of-28 passes for 98 yards.