5Ohio State
14 - 26 Final
  for this game

Ohio State roars back in second half to sink Ohio

Sep 6, 2008 - 9:06 PM By Dave Holstein PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- Ohio State almost got caught looking ahead.

With Heisman Trophy candidate Chris "Beanie" Wells sidelined by a foot injury, the third-ranked Buckeyes struggled to defeat Ohio, 26-14, on Saturday.

With a marquee showdown next week at No. 1 Southern California, Ohio State (2-0) rallied from a 14-6 second-half deficit by scoring 20 unanswered points.

"It kind of looked like everyone predicted you might look like in between your opener and your big national-stage game," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. "That is disappointing because you really want to make progress. We've got a lot of work to do and the good news is, we're 2-0 and it's September and hopefully we can get a lot better."

The Buckeyes' Ray Small put the game out of reach with a 69-yard punt return to cap the scoring with 6:16 to play.

"I think everyone was ready to play," Ohio State defensive captain Malcolm Jenkins said. "It just came down to execution. I think everyone played hard, we just didn't play well."

Ohio State registered the 800th win in the school history and gave Tressel his 75th career victory with the Buckeyes, who extended their winning streak over in-state opponents to 29 dating to 1921.

"I told the guys that I wasn't sure what the other 799 wins looked like, but we are still proud of number 800 for Ohio State," Tressel said. "One of only five schools in the history of the game to be able to do that. It's quite a privilege to be on the field when that occurs."

Wells did not play after injuring his foot in last week's 43-0 victory over Youngstown State. His status for the game at USC will be determined next week.

"You like to have the guys in the huddle that can have that presence," Tressel said of Beanie Wells. "You've got to be just as good when you don't, but of course we would have loved to have him."

Without Wells, the Buckeyes' rushing game struggled. Maurice Wells, making his first career start, had 48 yards on nine rushes while Dan Herron rushed for a team-high 50 yards on 12 carries.

"I think you have to give credit to the Ohio defense," Maurice Wells said. "Their line was stepping off the blocks and their safeties were coming down and filling in the holes. They were just a good defense."

Capitalizing on pair of turnovers by Ohio (0-2), Ohio State got short touchdown runs in the second half by Herron and Brandon Saine to take the lead for good.

Holding a 7-6 lead at halftime, Ohio had extended the margin 14-6 when sophomore defensive end Curtis Meyers recovered a fumble in the end zone after a snap went over Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman's head six minutes into the third quarter.

"I just got my hands on it and I wasn't going to let anyone take it," Meyers said."

"As the game went on, we got more confident," Ohio head coach Frank Solich said. "When you get things to happen for you and make plays, the belief starts to set in."

The Buckeyes began their comeback when Herron capped a 13-play, 73-yard drive with a 1-yard run with 2:51 left in the third quarter. Ryan Pretorius missed the extra point, cutting the deficit to 14-12.

"We started off slow," Herron said. "But we picked up the fight in the second half. I had to do something to get the offenses running because we were getting frustrated."

After a fumbled punt by the Bobcats' Mark Parson that was recovered by Ohio State defensive back Shaun Lane at the 25-yard line, Saine scored on a 2-yard run with 14:00 remaining in the game to give the Buckeyes a 19-14 lead.

"Everyone on the offense knew we had to do something," Saine said. "We needed momentum to help us and after recovering the punt we had momentum to step up."

Interceptions by Ohio State's James Laurinaitis and Anderson Russell ended two late drives by the Bobcats, and Small's punt return with 5:57 left accounted for the final 26-14 margin.

Ohio State opened the scoring late in the first quarter when Pretorius kicked a 27-yard field goal. The score was set up by Lawrence Wilson's interception of Ohio quarterback Theo Scott, who was knocked out of the game on the next possession.

Scott was tackled by Ohio State safety Jermale Hines as he released the ball on a pass attempt. He was carted off the field with an injury to his left shoulder.

Boo Jackson, who replaced Scott, finished 10-of-26 for 86 yards and three interceptions. He also had 55 yards rushing on seven carries.

"Obviously, I try to limit the mistakes," Jackson said. "It's hard when you don't have them in the first half and fall apart in the second."

Ohio went ahead midway through the second quarter when running back Donte Hardin scored on a 15-yard run for a 7-3 lead with 6:56 left in the first half.

Ohio State answered when Pretorius kicked his second field goal from 38 yards with 5:02 left in the first half.

Ohio fell to 0-14 all-time against ranked opponents.