Sunday, October 24, 1999

OHIO STATE 20, MINNESOTA 17


Field goal, fumble save Bucks from Gophers

The Associated Press

        MINNEAPOLIS — Ohio State has some life left after all, thanks to a Minnesota team that can't quite shake its shoddy play or sorrowful past.

        Dan Stultz kicked a 40-yard field goal with 1:15 left and Matt Wilhelm recovered Tyrone Carter's fumble on the ensuing kickoff as the Buckeyes slipped past the Golden Gophers 20-17.

        No.22 Ohio State (5-3, 2-2) avoided its first 1-3 Big Ten start since 1988 and beat No.24 Minnesota for the 16th straight time.

        It was the second straight time the Gophers have faltered in the fourth quarter against a ranked team at the Metrodome.

        Jerry Westbrooks caused the fumble that secured Ohio State's victory over Minnesota (5-2, 2-2), which dominated the game statistically until failing to gain a first down in three fourth-quarter possessions.

        A victory over the Buckeyes also would have given Minneso ta its first winning season in nine years and made them eligible for a bowl for the first time in 12 years.

        The Gophers were hoping for a number of milestones Sat urday — their first 6-1 start since 1967, their first victory over Ohio State since 1981 and their first victory over a ranked team in three years.

        Instead, the Buckeyes may have salvaged their season. With trips left to Michigan and Michigan State, they were in danger of posting their first losing season since 1988, John Cooper's first year as coach.

        “You're looking at a happy football coach,” Cooper said. “Minnesota has a great football team. They'll win enough games to go to a bowl game. But we did not want them to beat us. We're fighting for our lives.”

        Stultz and Michael Wiley each snapped out of slumps.

        “This is really bigger than what people think,” said Wiley, who ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns and threw a 28-yard pass that set up a field goal for the Buckeyes. “Now, hopefully, we can get rolling and finish the season great. Had we lost, who knows where we would turn?”

        Quarterback Steve Bellisari, benched for four second-half series in favor of Austin Moherman, returned and took a halfback pass from Wiley 28 yards to the Minnesota 24, setting up Stultz's 43-yard field goal that tied it at 17 with just over six minutes remaining.

        The Gophers went three-and-out again, and the Buckeyes went to work, dousing Minnesota's dreams of joining the Big Ten's upper echelon.

        “I knew I was going to make it before I went out there,” Stultz said after his first game-winning field goal in college or high school.

        Then Carter, the Gophers' best player, fumbled.

        Glen Mason, his coach, did not blame him for the loss.

        “I mean, I don't like fumbles, but if I've got the game on the line and a chance to win, is there a guy that I'm going to want with his hands on the ball more than Tyrone Carter?” Mason said. “He'd die for the Uni versity of Minnesota.”

        Carter ducked reporters afterward.

        Said Karon Riley said of the Gophers' second straight three-point conference loss at the Metrodome: “It's like you keep going to the store and the stuff you want is never there.”

        Ohio State ....... 7 0 7 6—20

        Minnesota ....... 0 10 7 0—17

        First Quarter

        OSU—Wiley 3 run (Stultz kick), 13:19. Second Quarter

        Min—Cockerham 9 run (Nystrom kick), 14:55.

        Min—FG Nystrom 30, 9:36. Third Quarter

        OSU—Wiley 44 run (Stultz kick), 7:07.

        Min—Hamner 7 run (Nystrom kick), 1:23. Fourth Quarter

        OSU—FG Stultz 43, 6:18.

        OSU—FG Stultz 40, 1:15.

        A—50,842. OSU Min

First downs ....... 15   13

        Rushes-yards ....... 45-155  45-181

        Passing ....... 117   100

        Return Yards ....... 47   16

        Comp-Att-Int ....... 12-23-0   6-11-1

        Punts ....... 8-40.9  8-39.9

        Fumbles-Lost ....... 1-1   1-1

        Penalties-Yards ....... 4-31   6-53

        Time of Possession ....... 31:55   28:05

        INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

        RUSHING—Ohio State, Wiley 22-118, Wells 11-40, Martin 1-0, Moherman 2-(minus 1), Bellisari 9-(minus 2). Minnesota, Hamner 25-115, Cockerham 19-66, Evans 1-0.

        PASSING—Ohio State, Bellisari 6-12-0-40, Moherman 5-10-0-49, Wiley 1-1-0-28. Minnesota, Cockerham 6-11-1-100.

        RECEIVING—Ohio State, Rambo 4-38, Germany 2-21, Wiley 2-8, Bellisari 1-28, Houser 1-10, Wisniewski 1-7, Provitt 1-5. Minnesota, Leverson 2-44, Brewer 2-15, Johnson 1-27, Bruce 1-14.

       



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