Saturday, April 28, 2001

Ohio State QB derby undecided

AP Sports Writer

        COLUMBUS — After watching his first official game as Ohio State's head coach, Jim Tressel loved the effort but hated the sloppy play.

        “I'll tell you what, it was a great thing to have a competitive game,” he said after the Scarlet scored twice in the last 6 minutes to steal a 22-21 victory over the Gray on Saturday. “Outside of a couple of special team miscues, I didn't think it was particularly sloppy.”

        But it was hard to overlook the mistakes. The Gray made three huge errors in the kicking game down the stretch, muffing two punt catches and also giving away a safety after a bad snap.

        “I think they got one more good lesson that special teams make the difference in a close game,” Tressel said.

        A full house of 22,892 came to Crew Stadium to watch Tressel's debut, but might have been treated to what could be the first chapter in an ongoing quarterback saga.

        Drew Carter caught two touchdown passes from Steve Bellisari and Rick McFadden completed 8-of-12 first-half passes for the Gray, but Craig Krenzel threw for one score and ran for another in the final 6 minutes to win the annual intrasquad scrimmage for the Scarlet.

        Carter caught touchdown passes covering 7 and 1 yards from Bellisari, the Buckeyes' two-year starter at quarterback who completed 11-of-17 passes for 122 yards. Bellisari also lined up at tailback for two plays and caught one pass.

        “I thought except for a couple of special-teams mishaps, we moved the ball real well,” said Bellisari, a senior-to-be.

        Although Bellisari still has the inside track to the job, McFadden, Krenzel and Scott McMullen had their moments. Each threw a touchdown pass.

        Bellisari said he had no idea if the job as starter was up for grabs.

        “I just play. That's all I care about,” he said.

        The Gray was in command 21-7 before Krenzel led a 90-yard drive — aided by a Brandon “Bam” Childress' muffed punt return — that concluded with Krenzel's 21-yard touchdown pass to Chris Vance with 5:35 remaining.

        The Scarlet offense was ineffective and had to punt, but B.J. Sander dropped the snap and then ran backward 14 yards to take an intentional safety that cut the lead to 21-16.

        After the ensuing free kick, the Gray offense ran out of downs, but the Scarlet's Maurice Lee fumbled away yet another punt — this one recovered by Bobby Britton at the Gray 22 — with 2:38 left.

        Four plays later — all Krenzel runs — the quarterback muscled his way in around right end on a 4-yard run for the decisive touchdown.

        “We ran a quarterback draw and I tried to find a hole,” said Krenzel, who will be a sophomore. “I relied on instinct and just tried to find a way into the end zone.”

        Bellisari tried to rally the Gray, but after completing a 17-yard pass he misfired on his last four passes, and the Scarlet then ran out the clock.

        “It was kind of tough,” Bellisari said. “The whole second half I didn't do much. It's the kind of situation where it's not very favorable.”

        McFadden, a redshirt sophomore, passed for 76 yards, including a 6-yard scoring toss to Childress.

        “I thought it was pretty good,” he said of his day. “It was nice to show what I could do.”

        McMullen, who came in as Bellisari's backup, got the Scarlet on the scoreboard first, leading a six-play, 29-yard drive after a bad punt snap that resulted in a 12-yard touchdown pass to Ricky Bryant in the right corner of the end zone. Bryant leaped high to take the pass away from Lee.

        “This went great,” McMullen said. “It was even better that the Scarlet came out at the end with the win.”

        After Bellisari led the Gray to a tying score on a 7-yard TD pass to Carter, fourth-stringer McFadden took over.

        A former Ohio player of the year in both basketball and football out of Struthers High School, McFadden completed 4-of-6 passes for 50 yards, but the drive ended when Josh Huston pulled a 35-yard field-goal attempt.

        On the Gray's next possession, Bellisari was replaced by Krenzel, and his pass to the left sidelines went through the hands of Vance and was intercepted by linebacker Thomas Matthews.

        McFadden once again completed 4-of-6 passes, including the go-ahead 6-yard scoring pass to Childress in the back of the end zone to make it 14-7.

        The top two rushers in the game were Krenzel, who had 42 yards on 11 carries, and McMullen, with 21 yards on three carries.

        Bellisari said not to read too much into his quick switch to tailback.

        “It was real spur of the moment. The coaches said, 'Hey, let's do this' and I said, 'Sure,”' Bellisari said.

        Tressel said there was still plenty of time to lock into a starting quarterback.

        “I would say that after 15 practices with 29 more to go (in August) that the pecking order is about the same as it's been the last few days,” he said. “But that doesn't mean that the game is over by any means.”


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