COLUMBUS - You get only so many chances in life. The prom queen gives you a come-hither look just once. That 5 1/2 percent interest rate comes and goes in the blink of an eye. He who hesitates is lost.
The Bowling Green State University football team, looking to pull its second upset over a Big Ten team in three weeks, had plenty of chances yesterday to win the game that had been circled on the calendar for months.
And the Falcons seemed poised to again push fifth-ranked Ohio State off the edge and into the abyss - the Buckeyes' first loss after 17 consecutive victories. BG had melted a 17-point lead to just seven and had the ball on the OSU side of the field with a few ticks of hope on the clock.
But when it came time to make one final, game-deciding, do-or-die play, it was Ohio State that was doing and Bowling Green that was dying.
Will Allen intercepted a Josh Harris pass and zig-zagged across the field to close the door on Bowling Green's comeback hopes as Ohio State claimed a 24-17 victory in front of 104,358 fans at Ohio Stadium.
It wasn't as if Goliath didn't provide ample opportunities for David to spring the upset. The Buckeyes turned the ball over three times, but the Falcons weren't able to score a single point off the miscues. There also were several near-misses and missed connections on plays that could have helped the Falcons spring the upset.
“They gave us opportunities to make some plays,” Harris said of the OSU defense. “And we didn't make them. I didn't make the throw. We didn't catch the ball. We didn't block the guy.”
Meanwhile, the Buckeyes took advantage of turnovers and field position to score 10 first-half points, then held on to claim their fourth consecutive win this season.
“Offensively I thought we moved the ball along pretty well,” said Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. “But we obviously have to eliminate the turnovers that stop drives and give our opponents opportunities to have chances against our defense.
“Once again we allowed someone at our place to have a chance in the fourth quarter and that's something that we've got to straighten out.”
Bowling Green's chance began with the Buckeyes leading 24-7 after a three-yard Lydell Ross touchdown run with 8:46 left in the game. That drive seemed to sink the final nail in the Falcons' coffin as Ohio State raced 76 yards on six plays, 46 of which came on a pass from Scott McMullen to Michael Jenkins.
Starting on their 20, the Falcons traveled 80 yards 12 plays with a blend of run and pass, with Harris hitting Cole Magner with a 25-yard TD strike with 3:25 left.
The Falcons' Janssen Patton recovered an on-side kick at the OSU 44 and Harris completed three passes for 39 yards before the drive stalled and Shaun Suisham booted a 33-yard field goal to cut the lead to seven.
On its next possession Ohio State drained the clock to just 42 seconds left before punting the ball back to the Falcons on the BG 24. Bowling Green was able to cross midfield on a 29-yard pass from Harris to Magner, but Allen's interception - the Buckeyes' third of the game - finally slammed the door on OSU's 13th straight win in the Horseshoe.
The loss left the Falcons feeling empty.
“We let this one slip away. Period,” Harris said.
The Falcons' first slip came midway through the first quarter. Harris missed James Hawkins and was intercepted by Dustin Fox, who returned the pick to the BG 29. It took only six plays for Ohio State to find the end zone, with Drew Carter hauling in a seven-yard scoring pass from McMullen.
Bowling Green took the ensuing kickoff and traveled 87 yards in 13 plays. Harris completed six of eight passes to start the drive, leading BG to the Buckeyes' 22.
Then on third-and-1, running back P.J. Pope took over at quarterback - well, at least it was Pope taking the shotgun snaps from center Scott Mruczkowski. Pope slashed for eight yards to convert the third-down play, then added a seven-yard run to push the ball to the OSU 7.
Harris took the final snap of the drive and connected with a wide-open Cornelius McGrady on a seven-yard TD toss.
But another Bowling Green misplay allowed the Buckeyes to kick a field goal that gave them the lead for good. On a third-and-six play Harris fumbled as he was about to be sacked, and Simon Fraser fell on the ball at the Falcons' 21.
Bowling Green pushed the Buckeyes back to the 30, but Mike Nugent kicked a 47-yard field goal to make it 10-7.
The Falcons and Buckeyes exchanged punts on the next two possessions, but BG came out on the short end of that exchange when B.J. Sander's kick spun out of bounds at the Bowling Green 4. After three plays the Falcons had reached only the 5, and Nate Fry's punt took Chris Gamble out of bounds at the BG 42.
Ohio State covered just nine yards in three plays and was facing a fourth-and-1 at the 33. But Ross broke through the middle of the BG line and raced untouched into the end zone for a touchdown and a 17-7 lead.
“There are no medals for trying,” said BG coach Gregg Brandon. “It's a loss. It stinks.”39.96196 -83.00298