Sunday, October 07, 2001

Ohio State 38, Northwestern 20


Record crowd sees Buckeyes run wild

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS, Ohio — It might as well have been “Turn Back The Clock Night” at Ohio Stadium.

        Big-back Jonathan Wells ran for 179 yards and three touchdowns and the defense had all the answers as Ohio State kept to the basics to beat No. 14 Northwestern 38-20 on Saturday night.

        “I came here as a power guy,” said Wells, who set the tone for the night when he rumbled 71 yards for a score on the second play of the game. “I'm not going to make people try to miss. I'm a straight-forward guy and that's what I'm going to try to do.”

        The Buckeyes (3-1, 2-0 Big Ten) won for the 22nd consecutive time against the Wildcats (3-1, 1-1). Northwestern hasn't won in the series in 30 years.

        “They were obviously a lot more physical,” Northwestern outside linebacker Pat Durr said. “It's plain and simple, the Big Ten is black and blue and we're black and blue right now. They put it on us pretty good.”

        Harkening back to its 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust heritage, Ohio State dominated between the tackles.

        “We ran any play we wanted to run,” Wells said.

        The defense provided a touchdown on Mike Doss's 30-yard fumble return and harassed Northwestern quarterback Zak Kustok and tailback Damien Anderson all night.

        “We've got great athletes over on defense,” Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. “I like the way they have the maturity and poise to adapt and adjust.”

        The Buckeyes completed just four passes while piling up 287 yards on the ground.

        “It was pretty much smashmouth football,” Wells said.

        A raucous crowd of 104,042 — the largest ever in reconstructed Ohio Stadium — was on hand for the first night Big Ten game ever played in the 79-year-old facility.

        They had reason to roar right from the start.

        Ohio State needed just two plays — both runs by Wells — to get on the board.

        After gaining 6 yards on first down at the Buckeyes 23, Wells ran off left tackle and found a gaping hole. He outran Northwestern cornerbacks Chasda Martin and Raheem Covington, diving into the end zone in jubilation with just 55 seconds off the clock.

        Helped by a roughing call, Northwestern came right back to tie it. With Anderson carrying five times for 35 yards — including the final 8 yards around left end — the Wildcats capped a 13-play, 80-yard drive.

        Steve Bellisari's pass was intercepted by Martin at the Northwestern 25 late in the first half, but on the next play from scrimmage Anderson was hit by Ohio State defensive end Will Smith and fumbled. Doss picked up the ball once and dropped it, then dribbled it on the ground before picking it up and going 30 yards with the return to make it 14-7.

        “I remember going up there to clean up the tackle,” Doss said. “I knew there wasn't anybody within 20 yards. There was no need to jump on it — just try to pick it up and go in for the score.”

        Anderson, who finished with 80 yards on a 21 attempts, had lost just one fumble in his previous 401 carries.

        Northwestern quickly moved downfield again before another rarity — an interception by Kustok.

        Kustok, 16-of-26 for 122 yards, overthrew a pass that Ohio State cornerback Derek Ross picked off and returned 43 yards to the Wildcats 44.

        Kustok had been intercepted just once in his last 314 attempts.

        That Ohio State threat wilted, but the Buckeyes used Bellisari's first completion of the half — a high, wobbly throw that hung in the air while split end Michael Jenkins came back for it — to build the lead to 21-7 at the half.

        The 41-yard completion gave the Buckeyes a first down at the 27. Three plays later, fighting heavy pressure, Bellisari tossed a pass to the left flat that was caught by Wells, who cut back against the grain and appeared to have a 25-yard touchdown before he was tripped by teammate Darnell Sanders and fell at the 2.

        On second down at the 1, Wells easily skirted left tackle for his second touchdown.

        Northwestern, which was sixth in the nation in total offense, ran three plays and punted on each of its three third-period possessions and the Buckeyes poured it on with points after each.

        “We made nothing happen to turn it around when it counted,” Northwestern coach Randy Walker said. “At some point early, we needed to do something to turn the momentum and, frankly, we never did it.”

        Lydell Ross, who had seemingly gone around Wells on the depth chart after gaining 124 yards in a win at Indiana last week, scored on a 9-yard run.

        Wells then added a 6-yard run — breaking a pair of leg tackles in the backfield — for his third score before Mike Nugent kicked a 44-yard field goal to push the lead to 38-7.

        Bellisari finished 4-of-10 passing for 109 yards.

        Kustok ran for a score and passed for another in the fourth quarter.

        “The key to the running game was that we started out so well,” Tressel said. “The running backs gave the offensive line and our staff a burst of confidence. One of our game plans was to hold on to the ball, keep it away from Northwestern, and we did that well.”

        Ohio State's players wore the No. 22 on their helmets in memory of freshman soccer player Connor Senn, who died last week after collapsing during a match.

Team   1 2 3 4     SCORE
Northwestern   7 0 0 13     20
Ohio State   14 7 17 0     38
Scoring Summary
1st QuarterOhio State Touchdown - 71-yard run by Jonathan Wells. (Josh
Houston kick). 14:05 Remaining.
Northwestern Touchdown - 8-yard run by Damien Anderson. (David
Wasielewski kick). 9:19 Remaining.
Ohio State Touchdown - 30-yard fumble return by Mike Doss.
(Josh Houston kick). 0:54 Remaining.
2nd QuarterOhio State Touchdown - 1-yard run by Jonathan Wells. (Josh
Houston kick). 0:26 Remaining.
3rd QuarterOhio State Touchdown - 9-yard run by Lydell Ross. (Mike Nugent
kick). 11:04 Remaining.
Ohio State Touchdown - 6-yard run by Jonathan Wells. (Mike
Nugent kick). 7:58 Remaining.
Ohio State Field Goal - 44-yarder by Mike Nugent. 1:31
Remaining.
4th QuarterNorthwestern Touchdown - 2-yard run by Zak Kustok. (run
failed). 13:22 Remaining.
Northwestern Touchdown - 4-yard pass from Zak Kustok to Jon
Schweighardt. (David Wasielewski kick). 5:12 Remaining.
Attendance: 104,042
Final Team StatisticsNorthwestern Ohio State
First downs 2217
Rushes-yards 48-17053-287
Passing yards 170287
Return yards 2287
Passing (Att-Comp-Int) 31-18-110-4-1
Punts-Average 6-42.24-38.3
Fumbles-Lost 1-10-0
Penalties-Yards 7-478-86
Time of Possession 27:5032:10
Rushing
Northwestern - Anderson 21-80, Lawrence 8-55, Kustok 13-19, Stauss 6-16.
Ohio State - Wells 22-179, Maldonado 13-11, Ross 11-33, Martin 4-14, Bellisari 3-1.
Passing
Northwestern - Kustok 16-26-1, 122 yards and 1 touchdown. Stauss 2-5-0, 14 yards.
Ohio State - Bellisari 4-10-1, 109 yards.
Receiving
Northwestern - Patrick 7-69, Schweighardt 4-35, Simmons 3-23, Anderson 1-6, Foster 1-3, Jordan 1-3, Wright 1-(-3).
Ohio State - Jenkins 2-87, Wells 2-22.



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