Saturday, January 4, 2003
MVP Krenzel leads Buckeyes
with steady hand
The Associated Press
TEMPE, Ariz. - The Tennessee Titans' Eddie George was the first former Ohio State player Craig Krenzel met as he left the field after Friday night. George, a Heisman Trophy winner, wrapped his arms around the Buckeyes' quarterback and, with a wide grin, said, "You're a warrior, man!"
On a blustery night at Sun Devil Stadium, Krenzel was all that and more as Ohio State captured its first national championship since the 1968 season.
"This one's got to rank right up there," Krenzel said as he fought through the crowd to join his teammates in singing the alma mater while accompanied by the marching band.
On a night in which Krenzel wasn't very effective throwing the ball - he was 7 for 21 passing for 122 yards with two interceptions - he helped win the game with his head and his legs.
Krenzel, a notoriously slow runner who is often kidded by his teammates, led the Buckeyes in rushing with 81 yards on 19 carries and two touchdown runs.
"All I know is Krenzel did for us what needed to be done," coach Jim Tressel said. "He led the team, fought like crazy, he made plays. He's tough. Probably the No. 1 characteristic that a quarterback better have - especially a quarterback at Ohio State - is he'd better be tough. Craig is tough."
It was Krenzel who scored on a plunge off the right side to tie the game at 7-7. Krenzel again scored on a 1-yard surge to tie it after Miami had taken a 24-17 lead on Ken Dorsey's 7-yard scoring pass to Kellen Winslow Jr. in the first overtime.
Krenzel's patient approach to the game was on display in the Fiesta Bowl.
Miami's Todd Sievers kicked a 40-yard field goal as time expired to tie the game at 17-17 and send it into overtime.
The Hurricanes scored on their possession for a 24-17 lead. When the Buckeyes got the ball, they faced fourth-and-14 at the 29, with Krenzel finding his favorite target, Michael Jenkins, for a 17-yard gain.
Ohio State then had a fourth-and-3 at the 5. Krenzel's pass to Chris Gamble was incomplete and Miami's players rushed the field to celebrate while fireworks exploded overhead.
"It was a feeling of dejection, thinking the game was over, knowing how hard we played and how much effort we put in," Krenzel said.
Seconds later, field judge Terry Porter called Miami's Glenn Sharpe for pass interference to give the Buckeyes another chance. Krenzel, who scored one touchdown in Ohio State's first 13 games, scored his second of the night on a keeper to force a second overtime.
"Krenzel was unbelievable," tight end Ben Hartsock said. "He was like he always is. He's our general. He always maintained his composure."
In the second overtime, Krenzel picked up 5 yards on a third-and-1 situation, then hit Jenkins for 6 yards to the Miami 5. Maurice Clarett then scored on a blast up the middle.
In the second overtime, Krenzel gained 5 yards to the Miami 11 on a keeper on third-and-1. On the next play, he found Jenkins on a pass in the left flat for 6 yards. Clarett took it in for the touchdown on the next play.
Miami failed to score in the second overtime, when the Buckeyes' Cie Grant blitzed and forced Dorsey into a pass that linebacker Matt Wilhelm knocked to the ground, giving Ohio State the improbable victory.
Krenzel couldn't bear to watch.
"I stood there with my teammates and listened for the crowd reaction," he said. "I still haven't seen the final play, All I know is it's a sweet feeling."
Buckeyes are the champs with 31-24 victory
Photo Gallery |
Daugherty Column: Buckeyes win with heart and cool
MVP Krenzel leads Buckeyes with steady hand
Final Polls: AP: OSU unanimous No. 1 |
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