CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - When a football team calls a timeout to freeze the opponent's place kicker, who is lined up for a field-goal attempt, it's to give him more time to think rather than react, fidget rather than fling through the mechanics of the kick.
It's a mental game, and it affects more than just the kicker.
How about the center, who has to make a perfect snap, and the holder, who must precisely place the ball down?
When Ohio State placekicker Dan Stultz lined up for what would be the game-winning 34-yard field goal as time expired in OSU's 24-21 victory over Illinois yesterday, the fighting Illini froze Stultz three times, using all three of its time outs.
But it also froze long-snapper Mike Jacobs of Maumee, and holder Andy Groom.
“We've been in that situation before, me and Andy,” Jacobs said. “You only hear about us if we mess up. I just wanted to get the ball back. I was surprised they called all three timeouts.”
The 6-1 285-pound Jacobs, a junior who played at Maumee High School, snapped flawlessly on all four of Stultz's field goals and all four of the Buckeyes' punts, three by B.J. Sander and one by Stultz.
The game-winning field goal was a close call, the ball sailing over the right goalpost. It was the first time the senior Stultz made four field goals in one game.
“It was right over the top and I thought it was good. I have confidence in Dan and he came through again,” said Jacobs, the son of former OSU offensive coordinator Mike Jacobs.
COMBS HURT: Ohio State lost the services of tailback Derek Combs and wide receivers Ken-Yon Rambo and Reggie Germany. Rambo limped off the field in the second quarter. Germany was also injured in the second quarter. Combs left the game just 54 seconds into the second half.
All appeared to suffer ankle or leg injuries.
“It's nothing. Don't worry about it,” said Rambo when questioned after the game. “Put, `It's nothing,' in your newspaper.”
Ohio State coach John Cooper said he didn't know the extent of any of the injuries and long any of the players would be sidelined with the regular-season finale Saturday against Michigan in Ohio Stadium.
Rambo caught two passes for 43 yards and also returns kickoffs. Germany had one catch for 13 yards. Combs, who ran for a career high 153 yards in OSU's win over Michigan State the previous Saturday, gained 65 yards in 18 rushes before being injured.
Tailback Jonathan Wells came to the rescue on both fronts, rushing 27 times for a career-high 131 yards and leading the Buckeyes in receiving with five catches for 50.
OSU quarterback Steve Bellisari completed a career-high 23 passes on a career-high 38 attempts.
“There was a substantial disparity in the time of possession (36 minutes to 24). They just wore us down,” said Illinois coach Ron Turner. “They are a good, good football team.”