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Ohio State's Gamble Pays Off

As school's first two-way starter since 1963, he makes key plays in 13-7 victory over Penn State. Clarett is injured early.

October 27, 2002|From Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Chris Gamble began the game as Ohio State's first two-way starter in 39 years. He left with the record crowd chanting his name.

On a day when freshman running back Maurice Clarett missed most of the game because of a shoulder injury, Gamble's performance was something to shout about.

The wide receiver made a stellar debut as a starting defensive back by returning an interception for a touchdown and preventing a score with a tackle in No. 4 Ohio State's 13-7 victory over No. 18 Penn State on Saturday.

"It feels good to get my name chanted by the crowd," the soft-spoken Gamble said after he was hailed by 105,103 at Ohio Stadium.

The victory helped the Buckeyes (9-0, 4-0) stay on course for the Big Ten Conference title. They don't play Iowa (8-1, 5-0) this season, but they have the inside track to the Rose Bowl, since they have a better overall record.

"They're the best team we've played. It'd be close between them and Iowa," said Penn State Coach Joe Paterno, whose team lost in overtime to the Hawkeyes.

"Do they play Iowa? That would be a pretty good game."

Indeed it would. And if Penn State could have knocked off the Buckeyes, Iowa would have a clear path to Pasadena. But the Nittany Lions (5-3, 2-3) managed only five first downs and 179 total yards.

Clarett, who missed a game earlier this season because of a knee injury, hurt his left shoulder six plays into the game and did not return. He had been averaging 140 yards a game and was off to another fast start Saturday, gaining 39 yards in four carries to give him 1,019 yards in just over seven games.

Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel said he was unsure of the nature or the severity of the injury.

"I can't tell you if it's a one-day thing or a five-day thing," he said.

Gamble picked up the slack by becoming the first Ohio State player since Paul Warfield in 1963 to start on both sides of the ball.

Before Saturday, he had played only five snaps on defense, with two interceptions.

With Ohio State trailing, 7-3, early in the third quarter, Gamble picked off an underthrown floater by quarterback Zack Mills. Gamble raced down the right sideline, cut to the inside briefly and then sidestepped a tackler to slide into the end zone for a 40-yard score.

Gamble's other huge play came during the turnover-plagued first half.

On third and goal from the Penn State five-yard line, Buckeye quarterback Craig Krenzel fumbled while trying to get the ball across the goal line. Anwar Phillips scooped up the ball at the one and raced 58 yards before Gamble brought him down.

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