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Buckeyes Roll the Dice, Come Up Winners

Krenzel's 37-yard scoring pass on fourth down with 1:36 remaining propels Ohio State to 10-6 victory over Purdue.

November 10, 2002|From Associated Press

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Ohio State was trailing on the road and facing fourth down late in the game, with not only a victory but the Big Ten title and a chance at the Fiesta Bowl berth slipping away.

Craig Krenzel found a way to keep it all within reach for the Buckeyes.

He threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins on a fourth-and-one play with 1:36 left as the third-ranked Buckeyes defeated Purdue, 10-6, Saturday to keep their national championship hopes alive.

The Buckeyes (6-0 Big Ten) are off to their fourth 11-0 start in team history, joining the 1975, 1979 and 1995 teams. More importantly, they probably will remain No. 2 in the bowl championship series standings, keeping them in contention for the national title.

The Boilermakers (4-6, 2-4) were leading, 6-3, when Krenzel dropped back and found Jenkins -- who sprinted down the sideline before cutting in -- for an over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone.

"It's a situation I wish everybody in the world could feel, with that kind of excitement, that natural high," Krenzel said.

Krenzel completed 13 of 20 passes for 173 yards. He had been pressured throughout by a bruising Purdue defense that held Ohio State to 267 yards and sacked Krenzel three times.

But Krenzel, using a no-huddle offense, called the game-winning play at the line of scrimmage, and Jenkins beat Antwaun Rogers to get open.

"That's what a receiver has to do. We have to separate when the ball is coming," Jenkins said.

Purdue got the ball again, but Kyle Orton's pass into double coverage was intercepted by Chris Gamble.

The Boilermakers need victories in their final two games to become bowl-eligible for the sixth consecutive season. They've lost eight games in a row against ranked teams.

"This may or may not be hard to believe, but the game played out exactly as we hoped," Purdue Coach Joe Tiller said.

"We just wanted to be in position to win the game in the fourth quarter.

"We just didn't get the key stop on a fourth-down play and didn't operate the two-minute offense."

Strong performances by both defenses ensured a low-scoring game.

The Buckeyes barely had enough time to kick a field goal as time ran out in the first half to make it 3-3.

Krenzel escaped pressure and scrambled 15 yards down the middle to Purdue's 13. On a third-and-nine play from the 12, Krenzel ran again, this time for seven yards but short of the first down.

With no timeouts left and the clock ticking down, the field-goal unit hurried onto the field, and the center snapped the ball just in time for Mike Nugent to kick a 22-yarder. Tiller argued to officials that time had expired, but replays indicated that there was one second showing when the ball was snapped.

Nugent has made 22 field goals in a row dating to last season and is closing in on the NCAA Division I-A career record of 30 in a row, set by Washington's Chuck Nelson.

Nugent has made 21 in a row this season and is within reach of the single-season record of 25, which Nelson set in 1982.

Buckeye running back Maurice Clarett, who had nerve damage in his left shoulder that kept him out of the last two games, started and ran 14 times for 52 yards.

Ohio State played without wide receiver Chris Vance, who was attending his brother's funeral.

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