<
>

Ohio State survives on last-second field goal

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- In the quiet of the Marshall dressing
room, a simple fact stood between the Thundering Herd and one of
their biggest upsets ever.

"We had a chance," coach Bob Pruett said softly. "They made
their kick. We missed ours."

Mike Nugent kicked a 55-yard field goal as time expired to give
No. 9 Ohio State a 24-21 victory over Marshall on Saturday.

Not even Nugent was sure the ball had slid the uprights.

"Every time I hit a solid ball it goes back and forth a little
bit," he said. "It kind of scared me at first. It was going
dead-center and then it started going back in. I was just telling
it to go in and that last second it made it by about 2 inches."

The Buckeyes (2-0) have won 13 of their last 14 games decided by
a touchdown or less over the last two-plus seasons, including a 7-0
record while winning the national championship in 2002.

"These games happen so often here it seems," linebacker A.J.
Hawk said.

With the game tied, Ohio State took over at its own 45 after a
poor punt by Ian O'Connor with 25 seconds left. It was O'Connor's
second crucial mis-kick in the quarter. He missed a 35-yard field
goal with the score tied at 21 and just over three minutes left.

After the shank, Justin Zwick hit Santonio Holmes -- who had 10
catches for 218 yards and two touchdowns -- for gains of 9 and 8
yards. Zwick then completed a 5-yard pass to tight end Ryan Hamby,
with the clock continuing to run because the Buckeyes were out of
timeouts.

Zwick, who hit on 18 of 30 passes for 318 yards and three
scores, was able to get under center and stop the clock by downing
the ball with 2 seconds left, with a motion penalty called on the
play that made the kick even longer.

Nugent then had more than enough leg -- and time -- to put the
ball through out of a perfect hold by Kyle Turano. It matched the
longest field goal in Ohio Stadium's 82 years.

"We're so close to getting a big win and it just slips through
your fingers," Marshall quarterback Stan Hill said.

Marshall players hung their heads and fell to the field while
the Buckeyes ran to the stands and exulted with a partisan crowd of
104,622.

"We're not going to feel sorry for ourselves," Pruett said.
"No one else in the world is."

The Buckeyes survived more than won, as the Thundering Herd
missed one field goal and disdained another in the final 16
minutes, with O'Connor running into a scarlet-and-gray wall on a
faked kick attempt.

For the second week in a row, Ohio State didn't force a
turnover. Zwick threw two interceptions and the Buckeyes also lost
two fumbles. They now have seven turnovers in two games and have no
takeaways.

"We're lucky, I guess, because typically if you're at a minus-7
in turnover margin you're going to be 0-2," Ohio State coach Jim
Tressel said. "I've not been around too many teams that can lose
the turnover margin and be a champion."

In addition, Holmes missed the entire third quarter with an
injury and three-year starting cornerback Dustin Fox left the game
at the half and watched the second half from the sideline, his left
arm in a sling. Fox said he broke his arm and will miss somewhere
between four and seven weeks.

Trailing 21-14, Marshall drove 85 yards to the Ohio State 8 late
in the third quarter. Rather than go for a field goal, O'Connor
took a handoff from holder Scott Wilks on fourth-and-4. O'Connor
was tossed for a 2-yard loss.

The Buckeyes then turned the ball over on three successive
possessions. Holmes took an inside screen and was hit from behind
by Willie Smith and fumbled, with Dionte Wilson recovering.

After a punt, Zwick overthrew a pass and Chris Royal
intercepted, returning it 16 yards to the Ohio State 26 with the
ball moving to the 13 on a late-hit penalty.

Four plays later Hill, who was 22-for-34 for 140 yards, found
Brad Bates on a 23-yard scoring pass to tie the game at 21.

On the first play after the kickoff, Zwick was picked off again
by Royal at the Marshall 41. The Herd drove to a first down at the
Ohio State 21 with about five minutes left. With 3:17 left,
O'Connor hooked a 35-yarder to would have given the Herd the lead.

The first play reviewed by the Big Ten's new instant replay
system at Ohio State went against the Buckeyes.

With Ohio State ahead 14-7, Lydell Ross was held up at the line
by Marshall three tacklers. Suddenly, defensive end Jonathan
Goddard bolted out of the pile and headed for the end zone. The
play was reviewed by two Big Ten officials in the press box who
determined the video showed "indisputable" proof that the Ross
was not down when Goddard pilfered the ball and returned it 27
yards for the score.

On the next possession, Zwick hit Holmes for gains of 13, 9, 13
and 18 yards before finding Roy Hall on a crossing pattern for the
20-yard touchdown.

Ohio State had forged its early 14-7 lead on two Zwick-to-Holmes
scoring passes covering 80 and 47 yards. The first was a perfectly
timed and thrown post pattern with Holmes beating strong safety
Curtis Keyes by a step.

Asked repeatedly about the last field goal, Pruett finally asked
a reporter how far Nugent's kick traveled.

"That's a long kick," Pruett said, shaking his head. "I guess
that's the reason he's an All-American."