Oct. 15, 2005

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Troy Smith threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns, Antonio Pittman rushed for 101 yards and Santonio Holmes caught five passes for 150 yards and two scores while the defense recorded a school record 12 sacks to lead No. 15/15 Ohio State to a hard-fought 35-24 victory over No. 16/17 Michigan State Saturday in front of 105,122 fans at Ohio Stadium.

Ohio State (4-2 overall, 2-1 Big Ten) rallied from 10 points down in the first quarter and again in the fourth quarter scoring two touchdowns in less than 3 and one-half minutes for the victory. The Buckeyes needed two late scores to win 32-19 at Michigan State in 2004.

Smith completed 10-of-15 passes for 249 yards, a career high. The Buckeyes rushed for 137 yards, 101 coming from Pittman, who recorded his third 100-yard game of the season and the fourth of his career. Ohio State had 386 total yards to Michigan State’s 456.

MSU quarterback Drew Stanton completed 26-of-36 passes for 340 yards and one score, but was plagued by the “Silver Bullet” defense most of the afternoon. The Buckeyes’ 12 sacks totaled 58 yards.

Four Ohio State defenders tallied double-digit tackle totals, led by A.J. Hawk, who recorded 19 tackles, one off his career high. Hawk was joined by Bobby Carpenter and Donte Whitner with 11 tackles each while Anthony Schlegel added 10. Those four players accounted for 51 tackles. Michigan State had 48 tackles in the game.

“As you could see, our kids played hard,” Jim Tressel, Ohio State head coach, said. “Every second is important. Our defense kept coming after them. Our offense made some big plays and they stepped up and made those big plays.”

Tressel’ team came back fired up in the second half.

Ted Ginn Jr. turned a reception designed for a first down into a 57-yard touchdown to finally put the Buckeyes in front, 21-17, with 10:21 to play in the third quarter. On third-and-foiur from the OSU 43, Ginn, who scored with a run, pass and punt return at Michigan State last season, made a catch just across midfield and raced down the left sideline for the go-ahead score.

Michigan State responded with an 11-play, 80-yard drive to reclaim the lead on an 8-yard touchdown by Jason Teague, who went untouched over the right guard as the Spartans moved back in front, 24-21, with 4:53 to play after a John Goss PAT.

The Spartans tried to add to their lead with a 37-yard field goal attempt by Goss with 7:12 to play in the game, but Ashton Youboty blocked the kick. It was the Buckeyes’ second blocked field goal of the game.

Five plays later the Buckeyes reclaimed the lead. Smith hit Holmes for a 46-yard strike down the left sideline and then escaped a shoe-string tackle and dove into the front corner of the end zone. That effort put the Buckeyes up 28-24 with 4:56 to play. The defense turned it up another notch and forced Michigan State to punt on fourth down. Holmes returned the punt 26 yards to the MSU 19. Pittman carried the ball 18 yards to the one and then Smith’s keeper extended the lead to 35-24 with 1:29 to play in the game.

The Spartans (4-2 overall, 1-2 Big Ten) won the battle for time of possession, hanging onto the ball for 40 minutes, 59 seconds compared to 19:01 to Ohio State. The Buckeyes had six fumbles and lost four.

Michigan State took the first turnover of the game – a fumble by Pittman – and drove 47 yards in eight plays to take a 3-0 lead on a 32-yard field goal by John Goss. The Buckeyes had moved 53 yards on their second possession of the game before Pittman’s fumble at the MSU 37-yard line.

On the ensuing kickoff, Holmes fumbled the ball at the OSU 18 and it was recovered by Michigan State at the OSU 4-yard line. The Spartans punched it in three plays later on a 3-yard run by Jehuu Caulcrick to take a 10-0 lead with 4:34 to play in the first quarter.

Smith let Holmes redeem himself on the fifth play of the Buckeyes’ next possession when he hauled in a 51-yard touchdown reception to pull within 10-7 after a Josh Huston PAT with 2:37 to play in the opening stanza.

Michigan State took control after a 76-yard punt by A.J. Trapasso with 14:12 to play in second quarter and marched 84 yards in 12 plays and nearly six minutes to take a 17-7 lead with 6:30 to play before intermission. Drew Stanton hit Jerramy Scott for a 36-yard score to build a 10-point cushion. Trapasso’s punt was the longest in Ohio Stadium since Howard Wedebrook’s 78-yard punt against Michigan in 1936 and the longest by an OSU punter since a 78-yarder by Joseph Whisler at Illinois in 1958.

The Spartans tried to add a field goal just before the end of the first half, but the 35-yard attempt by Goss was blocked by Nate Salley, picked up by Youboty and returned 72 yards down the left side line for a touchdown to pull the Buckeyes within three points (17-14) as time expired. Youboty’s 72-yard TD return is the longest return following a blocked kick since 1991 when Jason Simmons took back a blocked extra point by Iowa 85 yards for a 2-point score.

Michigan State outgained the Buckeyes 248-157 in total yards in the first half. Stanton completed 15-of-19 passes for 166 yards and the Spartans rushed 27 times for 82 yards. For Ohio State, Smith completed four first-half passes for 106 yards and one score, while the Buckeyes ran 10 times for 51 yards, including eight carries by Pittman for 40 yards. Holmes had two grabs for 90 yards and one score.

Tressel improved to 44-13 at Ohio State and to 18-7 against teams ranked in the Top 25.

Ohio State will play its next two games on the road beginning next week at Indiana. That game will be played at noon and be televised by ESPN. The Buckeyes are at Minnesota Oct. 29 before returning to Ohio Stadium Nov. 5 vs. Illinois.