Guiton Saves Ohio State’s Undefeated Season
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Kenny Guiton to Chris Fields, just the way Ohio State coach Urban Meyer drew it up.
Or at least the way he had to on Saturday during an improbable 29-22 come-from-behind victory over Purdue (3-4, 0-3 Big Ten) in Ohio Stadium.
Photo by Dan Harker
“That was a great, great win,” Meyer said after the Buckeyes improved to 8-0 with an overtime victory in Columbus.
“Great team win. Some of the efforts I saw tonight were legendary. I mean, that was a moment that I'll certainly never forget.”
Neither will those who stuck around to witness a stunning comeback that kept Meyer’s record spotless and Ohio State’s undefeated season alive.
With one of his starting wideouts in the locker room and his star quarterback on his way to the hospital, Meyer’s team trailed the visiting Boilermakers 20-14 late in the third quarter. That’s when he was forced to turn the offense over to backup Kenny Guiton after his Heisman Trophy candidate, Braxton Miller, was knocked out of the game with an apparent head and/or shoulder injury.
“That was – the quarterback comes jogging into the game, the old right‑hander, just did a heck of a job,” Meyer
In his first extended playing time in three years at Ohio State, Guiton rallied the Buckeyes to a potential game-tying touchdown in the final minute of regulation, but he needed a big catch from tight end Jeff Heuerman on the two-point conversion to send the game into overtime.
“It was a play we practiced over and over this week for our two-point conversion scenario and it worked just like we thought it would,” the sophomore tight end said of Ohio State’s Y-Hide play.
“It’s a delay play. The tight end blocks and then releases. It’s hard for the defense to recognize and it works almost every time in practice. Thankfully it also worked today.”
Heuerman nearly didn’t get off his block in time to get Guiton a chance to find him on the left side of the North end zone. He got stuck behind right tackle Reid Fragel, but Guiton stood tall in the pocket under pressure, like a seasoned veteran just waiting for his favorite target to break open.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“Kenny Guiton is like Kobe (Bryant) in clutch time,” OSU defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins said.
“He knows the game and I feel like he’s a coach for us on offense. He’s doing a good job. I never lose faith in Kenny.”
The two-point conversion capped off Guiton’s 7-play, 61-yard touchdown drive in the final minute of the game. It started with a huge three-and-out from the Ohio State defense after Guiton had been intercepted on a deep pass intended for Devin Smith.
Chris Fields scooped up the ball off the Turf on the punt before it could roll past him and returned it nine yards out to the OSU 39 yard line, saving both yardage and time. The latter was something the Buckeyes had almost none of when they took the field for the final possession of the fourth quarter.
It looked like an impossible dream. The starting quarterback was out of the game. Corey Brown was in the locker room with a head injury, and Purdue had stifled Meyer’s offense almost the entire afternoon, but everything changed on the first play.
Photo by Jim Davidson
That’s when Guiton connected with a wide-open Devin Smith on a 39-yard play that gave Ohio State (8-0, 4-0) new life at the Purdue 22-yard line. Guiton connected with Evan Spencer on the right sideline for 8 yards on the next play and tailback Carlos Hyde picked up a crucial first down on 3rd-and-2 at the 14-yard line.
Spencer picked up a key pass interference all in the end zone on Purdue corner Josh Johnson, setting up a 2-yard touchdown pass from Guiton to junior Chris Fields, who had not caught a pass all season coming into the game against Purdue.
“After that catch, I think I told him ‘thank you’ a million times,” Guiton said.
“Once I saw his hands under the ball, I knew he had it.”
Jeff Huerman scores the two-point play.
Photo by Dan Harker
Heuerman scored the two-point play and Guiton quickly set up the go-ahead touchdown pass in overtime with a 17-yard strike to Jake Stoneburner over the middle. Hyde would finish off the drive with 1-yard touchdown run up the middle, and Ohio State’s defense slammed the door on the comeback win when Caleb TerBush’s fourth down pass fell incomplete in the end zone.
“We knew after the offense scored to send the game to overtime, it was time for the defense to step up and close the game,” said senior Zach Boren, who played linebacker again this week.
“I was confident we would be able to.”
The OSU defense had played better against Purdue after back-to-back weeks of allowing 38+ points to Nebraska and Indiana. The Boilermakers did score on their first play from scrimmage on an 83-yard touchdown pass to Akeem Shavers, but the defense allowed just one more touchdown the rest of the day.
It was the OSU kick coverage team that gave up a 100-yard return to Akeem Hunt in the first quarter that gave Purdue a 13-7 lead. The Buckeyes came back with a 2-yard touchdown run from Hyde to make it 14-13 midway through the third quarter, but Purdue regained the lead on an 8-play, 82-yard drive near the end of the third quarter.
TerBush found Gary Bush, who waltzed into the end zone untouched from 31 yards out to make it 20-14 Boilermakers, but the game still felt like Braxton Miller had at least a few more big plays in him.
His next one would prove to be his last, however, as Miller was dragged violently to the Turf at the end of his 37-yard run in the third quarter. He was helped off the field by two trainers and was eventually carted to the locker room before going to the OSU Medical Center in an ambulance.
Miller was tested for head, neck and shoulder injuries, which all came back negative and was released from the hospital with no major injuries following what looked like a scary moment for Meyer and the Buckeyes.
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