COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- The last-second hero stuff never gets old
for Will Allen and Ohio State.
Allen intercepted Josh Harris' pass on the final play as No. 5
Ohio State (4-0) held off a late Bowling Green charge in a 24-17
"Once again, it came down to one play, and thank God I was in
the right spot," Allen said. "It's beginning to be second nature
to have the ball in my hands at the end of the game."
The victory marked the 10th time in the last 15 games that the
defending national champions -- riding an 18-game winning streak --
have won a game decided by a touchdown or less. Allen, it seems, is
usually the guy providing the magic at the finish.
Last year, he won games against Cincinnati and Michigan with
interceptions on the final play, and he had the hit that knocked
Miami's Willis McGahee out of the Fiesta Bowl.
Allen had a 100-yard interception return as the Buckeyes edged
32-point underdog San Diego State 16-13 two weeks ago, then
recovered a fumbled kickoff and made the critical tackle just
inches short of the goal line on the final play as the Buckeyes
held off North Carolina State 44-38 in triple-overtime last week.
"Will's where he's supposed to be. He's poised and patient,
even when the game is harried," coach Jim Tressel said. "It looks
like it's supposed to be the most important play in the world. He
knows what he's supposed to do, gets himself in position, slows the
play down and makes good decisions."
Lydell Ross scored two touchdowns and the Buckeyes held the
nation's most prolific offense to 366 yards. The Falcons came in
averaging 575 yards and 51 points.
A week ago, the Buckeyes blew a 24-7 fourth-quarter lead before
beating North Carolina State. Ohio State again led 24-7 with less
than 4 minutes left yet barely slid past the Falcons (3-1), who had
won their last five games against teams from BCS conferences.
"There are no medals for trying," Bowling Green coach Gregg
Brandon said. "It's a loss. It stinks."
Ohio State has not lost to another Ohio college since falling
7-6 to Oberlin in 1921. That streak might have ended had not
Bowling Green tight end Craig Jarrett dropped a touchdown pass
early in the third quarter.
The Buckeyes led 24-7 on Ross' 4-yard touchdown run with 8:46
left and appeared to be close to putting a team away for a change.
But Harris, who completed 33 of 54 passes for 326 yards and two
touchdowns with three interceptions, led the Falcons back.
"I don't think we played a very good football game," Harris
said. "It was disgusting. You saw it -- except for three drives.
They have a great defense. They'll bend but not break. But they
gave us opportunities."
With 3:25 left, Harris hit Cole Magner on a 25-yard scoring
pass. The Falcons' Janssen Patton then recovered the onside kick
and Bowling Green was right back in business at the Ohio State 44.
The Falcons drove to a third-and-1 at the Ohio State 5 before a
pair of penalties forced them to settle for Shaun Suisham's 33-yard
field goal with 1:46 left.
Ohio State's Ben Hartsock covered the onside kick, but the
Buckeyes ran only three plays -- nearly losing the ball on third
down when Ross fumbled but was awarded the ball in a wild scramble.
Bowling Green took over at its own 24 after the punt. Harris was
incomplete on two passes before finding Magner over the middle for
29 yards to the Ohio State 47 with 23 seconds left.
Out of timeouts, the Falcons stopped the clock by spiking the
ball on first down. Harris' pass for Patton was too long in the end
zone on second down. On the next play, Harris stepped up to avoid a
rush and tossed a pass into the left flat where Allen picked it off
and ran out the clock.
"We know we have to be more consistent," Allen said. "We've
just got to dominate more. We've got to dominate for 60 minutes,
not 54." A glum Harris said, "We let this one slip away. Period."
Ohio State was on top 17-7 when McMullen's pass was intercepted
by Patton on the third play of the second half, Patton returning
the ball to the Ohio State 23.
On first down, Harris tossed a lateral pass to Magner to the
left. Magner, who had 13 catches for 168 yards, then fired a pass
over the middle to a wide open Jarrett at the goal line -- but he
dropped the touchdown. On the next play, Ohio State linebacker A.J.
Hawk intercepted Harris' pass to end the threat.
"We had the trick play designed. It worked like a charm,"
Brandon said. "We just didn't make the play."
McMullen finished 10-of-16 for 118 yards with the one
Ohio State has been struggling to find a ground game since
starting tailback Maurice Clarett was suspended for the year for
breaking NCAA bylaws regarding accepting improper benefits and for
lying to investigators. Maurice Hall carried 19 times for 107 yards
and Ross added 22 carries for 94 yards.
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