Miller’s Heads-Up Play Saved Buckeyes From Disaster
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It won’t make the top 10 plays of the week.
It wasn’t even really a highlight.
Photo by Dan Harker
Braxton Miller made so many other exciting plays in Saturday’s 34-20 win over Indiana, most people hardly remember the one that saved the game.
With the Buckeyes leading 27-20 in the fourth quarter, Miller jumped on a fumble by Boom Herron that, if recovered by the Hoosiers, would have given them the ball at Ohio State’s 13-yard line.
“Big play. Giant play. One of the biggest plays of the game,” OSU Offensive Coordinator Jim Bollman said.
“Maybe his biggest play. That was great for him to be heads-up and get on that thing.”
Miller made a lot of big plays Saturday, a lot of game-winning plays. A lot of plays that helped the Buckeyes mask some serious weaknesses in their passing game. His 81-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was a dazzling display of explosiveness and speed.
“Just don't run out of gas and get into the end zone, that's what I was thinking,” Miller said after the win.
“It was a good play with good blocks. I was just trying to get into the end zone.”
He got some help at the end of the run by receivers Corey Brown and Devin Smith, who were maintaining their blocks all the way down the field. It got the Buckeyes out of a 10-0 hole and, more importantly, gave them the shock to their system they needed after a lackluster start to this week’s noon kickoff.
It was the longest run ever by an Ohio State quarterback—Terrelle Pryor’s longest run was 66 yards last season at Illinois—and the fourth longest touchdown run in school history.
That may not have been Miller’s best run of the day. He racked up 146 yards rushing against Indiana before sacks. The Buckeyes allowed six of them on the day, but Miller still finished with 105 net yards on the ground.
As if to outdo himself, Miller scored what would be the game-winning touchdown on a 20-yard run in the third quarter. The run was spectacular enough—he made a move at the 10-yard line that left safety Mark Murphy fumbling for his jock—but the situation the situation could not have been more paramount.
The Hoosiers had just scored the game-tying touchdown minutes earlier on a 34-yard touchdown pass from Tre Roberson to Kofi Hughes. It was another busted coverage by Ohio State’s defense and the Buckeyes were about to head into the fourth quarter tied at 20 with an Indiana team that was winless in the Big Ten.
They had a second-and-goal at the 8-yard line after a pass interference call against Indiana, but Miller was sacked for a 12-yard loss by linebacker Leon Beckum. It looked like the Buckeyes were going to have to settle for another Drew Basil field goal, but Miller wasn’t going to allow that.
“Braxton's getting better every game,” said Herron, who lead the way for Miller’s 20-yard touchdown run.
“He's definitely working hard. I'm kind of expecting him to make those plays.”
To make things more interesting, the Hoosiers drove right down the field on Ohio State’s defense to start the second half. They went 49 yards on 13 plays and had the ball at the OSU 12-yard line before two false start penalties pushed them back to the 23.
Mitch Ewald missed a 40-yard field goal. On the very next play, Herron was injured on a hit by defensive tackle Nicholas Sliger at the 23-yard line.
The ball popped loose and rolled backward towards Ohio State’s goal line. For a moment, everything froze and time stood still. More than 105,000 fans held their collective breath, watching the ball tumble around on the Turf.
“My heart jumped,” Miller said.
“So I just took off and dove for it.”
It was second-nature for the young quarterback, but a tremendously aware play for a young freshman. He landed on it at the 13 before Indiana’s defense could get there.
Everyone exhaled, including Herron, who would come back into the game on the next possession after Travis Howard set up the game-clinching touchdown with an interception near midfield.
Another disaster averted by these Buckeyes, who continue to hang around in the Big Ten race.
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