Seven and Uh Oh
By Tony Gerdeman
BLOOMINGTON, Indiana — It was the game that wouldn't end, against a team that just wouldn't die.
Ohio State (7-0, 3-0) held an 18-point fourth quarter lead twice, but the Hoosiers absolutely refused to quit, even as they were trying to run the clock out mid-way through the fourth quarter.
It wasn't until Corey Brown fell on Mitch Ewald's second onside kick in the final minutes that the game finally came to an end, and the Buckeyes somehow came from ahead to hold on for a 52-49 win over a feisty Hoosier (2-4, 0-3) bunch.
As an indicator of just how bad things had gotten for the Buckeyes, they were led in tackles by fullback Zach Boren, who moved over to linebacker early in the week.
Ohio State gave up five touchdowns in the game's final 24 minutes, and as they were waiting for that second onside kick with just over a minute to play in the game, there was little doubt that whoever recovered the kick would win the game.
Amazingly, the Buckeyes started the game innocently enough, scoring on the first drive of the game by marching 75 yards in nine plays, capped by a twelve-yard touchdown run by Corey Brown following a triple-option pitch from Braxton Miller.
Things looked good for OSU defensively as well, at least until Indiana running back Stephen Houston went 59 yards up the middle for a touchdown, and only had to deal with one Buckeye defender in the process.
Houston would add a seven-yard touchdown run just 2:14 later following a blocked punt by Indiana that gave the Hoosiers the ball at the Ohio State 16-yard line.
The Buckeyes answered back with a blocked punt of their own, as Travis Howard took the ball off of punter Erich Toth's toes, and Bradley Roby recovered it in the endzone for a touchdown to regain the 17-14 lead for Ohio State.
A 60-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline from Miller to Devin Smith closed out the half with the Buckeyes leading 24-14.
Despite the 59-yard run by Houston, the Hoosiers were actually held in check in the first half. They managed only 150 yards of offense.
Following an Indiana field goal to open the second half, the Buckeyes quickly built their lead back up when Miller took a snap, followed his blockers, and split two defenders on his way to a 67-yard touchdown run to make it 31-17.
Then, with the Buckeyes deep in the Hoosier redzone yet again, Miller took a snap, looked like he was going to try to run for a touchdown, but instead forced a pass into Corey Brown that was intercepted by safety Greg Heban. Three plays later, Indiana receiver Shane Wynn raced former high school teammate Christian Bryant into the endzone on a 76-yard touchdown catch and run.
What should have been a 21-point lead for OSU had just turned into a seven-point lead, and things were only going to get more interesting from there on out.
Despite the close quarters on the scoreboard, the Buckeyes marched right down the field and scored again when Kenny Guiton came in relief for a banged up Miller and threw a perfect shovel pass to Carlos Hyde, who shimmied his way into the endzone from 14 yards out.
Another Hyde touchdown to start the fourth quarter made it a 45-27 game. Hyde finished with 22 carries for 156 yards and a touchdown, and also caught two passes for 27 yards. It was his fourth career 100-yard rushing day.
Following a 76-yard touchdown drive by Indiana, Miller found Devin Smith over the middle on third and four, and Smith then reversed field and outraced the Hoosiers into the endzone for a 46-yard score. The score made it 52-34 Buckeyes, and that probably should have been the end of it.
Miller, who completed 13-24 passes for 211 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, was plagued by drops all night long. Miller also managed to rush for 149 yards on 23 carries.
Indiana wasted no time answering back, scoring a touchdown on a ten-play, 74-yard drive in just 2:18. Then, in one of the crazier onside kicks you'll ever see, as Bradley Roby was letting the kickoff go out of bounds, Indiana's Nick Stoner leaped out of bounds, heaving the ball back in before landing. The ball was recovered by the Hoosiers, who were now trailing 52-41 with just 1:40 to play.
A dump pass to Houston led to a few more missed tackles, as well as a 25-yard touchdown pass down the sideline. A two-point conversion later and Indiana was now down just 52-49 with 1:05 remaining.
That would be as close as the Hoosiers would get, however, and it was all kinds of closer than it should have been.
"At one point in that game we had them down and we couldn't finish it," Boren said of a defense that gave up 331 yards of total offense in the second half alone.
"It's kind of been a theme all year that we haven't done. Once we get a team on the ropes we haven't finished yet. We finished last week and we thought we could build on that this week. It just didn't work out that way.
"We just didn't finish, that was the big thing. We got a little lazy there at the end. We finally turned it up when it really mattered and got the onside kick."
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