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South Carolina Edges Buckeyes

Outback Bowl: Bellisari rallies Ohio State from 28-0 deficit, but Gamecocks win, 31-28, on late field goal.

January 02, 2002

TAMPA, Fla. — With the score tied and nearly no time left, South Carolina kicker Daniel Weaver knew his 42-yard field-goal attempt wasn't his best effort. So he put his faith in the wind.

The kick barely cleared the crossbar, allowing No. 14 South Carolina to avoid a big embarrassment with a 31-28 victory over No. 22 Ohio State in the Outback Bowl on Tuesday.

"I don't know what would've happened if that sucker didn't go through," South Carolina coach Lou Holtz said.

But the kick did, and the Gamecocks (9-3) had their second straight Outback victory over Ohio State. South Carolina won last year's game, 24-7.

"I knew it wasn't my greatest kick ever, but I was hoping the wind might take it," Weaver said. "I was lucky enough to make it."

Steve Bellisari, playing for the first time since his November arrest and suspension on drunk driving charges, led Ohio State from a 28-0 deficit to tie the score. But he had a pass intercepted by Sheldon Brown, whose return to Ohio State's 29 with 23 seconds left set up Weaver's first game-winning kick.

Four plays and two Ohio State timeouts after the interception, Weaver delivered.

Phil Petty, the game's MVP, threw for 227 yards and two touchdowns, and Andrew Pinnock scored twice for South Carolina.

But none of that mattered when Bellisari got the Buckeyes (7-5) going.

He ran for a two-yard score to close the third quarter, then hit Darrell Sanders with a 16-yard scoring pass with 10:18 to go that cut the lead in half.

"We were at the lowest we've been all year when we were down 28-0," Bellisari said. "The team really pulled together and we showed some real heart and grit right there."

Bellisari, who was 21 of 35 for 320 yards, then drove Ohio State to the South Carolina 18, but fumbled the snap. South Carolina linebacker Jermiah Garrison recovered.

On the next play, Derek Watson fumbled right back to Ohio State's Mike Doss. Three plays later, Jonathan Wells' one-yard run made it 28-21 with 5:02 remaining.

Ohio State got the ball back on its 11 with 3:56 to play and Bellisari completed six consecutive passes for 86 yards, tying the score on Sanders' nine-yard catch.

Cie Grant gave the Buckeyes a chance for victory at the end, intercepting Petty with 1:12 left. A celebration penalty backed them up to their 18, but no one at Raymond James Stadium was doubting Bellisari.

However, Brown picked on Bellisari's long pass, returning it 37 yards.

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