Sunday, September 29, 2002

Ohio State 45, Indiana 17

Clarett returns with 3 touchdowns

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS - The only people who can stop Maurice Clarett seem to be the Ohio State team doctors, and even they can't keep the star freshman off the field for long.

        After missing a week to have a knee operation, Clarett ran for 104 yards and scored three times on short first-half runs as the sixth-ranked Buckeyes beat Indiana 45-17 Saturday.

        Clarett had arthroscopic surgery Sept.17 to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. There was some bleeding around the incision at halftime, but doctors stitched him back up before he went back onto the field.

        Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said he had two questions for the doctors: “If he gets stitches, can he go back in? Will it be a problem? They said no.”

        Obviously it wasn't much of a problem. After gaining 51 yards on 14 carries in the first half, the tailback ran seven times for 53 yards, and he had a 28-yard gain brought back by a penalty.

        “He's a special back,” Indiana coach Gerry DiNardo said. “How could you come to Ohio State and start as a freshman and not be a special back?”

        The three touchdowns gave Clarett nine in four games - the most by an Ohio State freshman during one season in more than half a century. Cris Carter had eight in 1984, and Robert Smith matched the total in 1990.

        “All of us in the stadium were excited to have Maurice back in uniform and playing,” Tressel said. “We're better when he's playing.”

        Clarett scored on runs of 2, 1 and 4 yards as Ohio State (5-0) built a 21-10 lead on the Hoosiers (2-3) in the Big Ten opener for both teams. He didn't carry the ball after his 28-yard run was called back by a holding penalty late in the third period.

        “You really don't know how it will feel until you play. I felt pretty good out there,” Clarett said of his knee. “I'm just trying to prove things one game at a time.”

        Indiana stayed in the game until midway through the third quarter, thanks to quarterback Gibran Hamdan, who stood in the pocket against a furious Ohio State pass rush.

        Hamdan was 16-of-26 for 210 yards and a touchdown.

        Krenzel completed 11 of 16 passes for 152 yards. He was replaced by Scott McMullen, who completed all seven of his passes for 65 yards - including one pass batted back to him for a reception.

        Ohio State has won its last 10 meetings against the Hoosiers, who had as many freshman starters (8) as they did juniors and seniors combined.

        Indiana 0 10 0 7 - 17
        Ohio St. 7 14 17 7 - 45
        First Quarter

        OSU-Clarett 2 run (Nugent kick), :39.
        Second Quarter
        Ind-FG Robertson 49, 12:16.
        OSU-Clarett 1 run (Nugent kick), 5:42.
        Ind-Spencer 17 pass from Hamdan (Robertson kick), 2:09.
        OSU-Clarett 4 run (Nugent kick), :38.
        Third Quarter
        OSU-Gamble 43 run (Nugent kick), 12:25.
        OSU-Jenkins 4 pass from Krenzel (Nugent kick), 6:38.
        OSU-FG Nugent 51, 1:20.
        Fourth Quarter
        OSU-Jenkins 15 pass from McMullen (Nugent kick), 5:43.
        Ind-Roby 30 pass from Jones (Robertson kick), 3:04.

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