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Published: Sunday, 10/13/2002

OSU turns turnovers into easy win

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Buckeye QB Craig Krenzel threw for three touchdowns. Buckeye QB Craig Krenzel threw for three touchdowns.
AP Enlarge

COLUMBUS - Although its first-half pass defense left much to be desired, Ohio State clicked in about every other area yesterday in pounding San Jose State 50-7 before a record Ohio Stadium crowd of 104,892.

The fifth-ranked Buckeyes (7-0) piled up 567 yards - 355 passing - forced four Spartan turnovers and limited San Jose (4-3) to zero net rushing yards on 13 attempts.

Junior quarterback Craig Krenzel was an efficient 11-of-14 passing for 241 yards and three touchdowns as the Buckeyes buried the mistake-prone Spartans after the break.

“We made some big plays in the passing game which loosened them up, and Maurice [Clarett] found the holes running the ball,” Krenzel said. “And our defense came up with some big turnovers, which was great to see.”

A highly touted freshman tailback, Clarett, a Heisman Trophy candidate who lost a very un-Heismanlike three fumbles at Northwestern a week earlier, held onto the football this time out.

He carried 18 times for 132 yards, and added three TDs to bring his season total to an OSU freshman-record 15. Clarett has 847 yards on 131 rushes in his six games, an average of 141 a contest, and is 280 yards short of topping Robert Smith's freshman best of 1,126 in 1990.

And then there was on-the-money sophomore placekicker Mike Nugent, who converted field goals from 36, 29 and 28 yards to tie Vlade Janakievski's Buckeye record (1979-1980) for consecutive field goals at 15.

“All phases of the game did contribute,” Buckeye coach Jim Tressel said. “When the takeaways began and our defense started knocking the ball loose, you could see the tide of the game turn. Our offense did a good job capitalizing on those.”

Much of the fun on Homecoming Day took place after Ohio State forced the turnovers and solved the riddle of San Jose quarterback Scott Rislov, whose name began to sound like a skipping record album over the stadium's public-address system.

“Scott Rislov's pass complete to ... . Scott Rislov's pass complete to ... .”

The Spartan junior was 31 of 37 for 257 yards and 15 first downs with no interceptions - and that was just in the first half.

Still, the OSU defense absorbed the predominantly short-to-medium gains and yielded just one score.

That came on Rislov's nine-yard TD strike to Charles Pauley 9:48 before the break, pulling San Jose within three at 10-7.

But a sudden rash of giveaways prevented the Spartans - who had just one first down and 15 total yards after halftime - from staying competitive.

“In the first half we did everything we wanted to do,” Spartan coach Fitz Hill said. “We just did not get the ball in the end zone. When you play the No. 5 team in the country, you need to be perfect.”

Five minutes before halftime, Rislov was sacked on first-and-goal from the 10 by Cie Grant for a 14-yard loss and fumbled, and Buckeye freshman linebacker Mike D'Andrea's hit on wideout Tuati Wooden after an 11-yard gain caused the second fumble at the OSU 24 with 24 seconds left in the half.

“I held it a little too long,” Rislov said of his fumble. “I was looking left and [Grant] came from the right. If we would've scored there, it would have totally changed the momentum of the game.”

The Buckeyes made good on their scoring opportunities, with Clarett sandwiching first-half TD runs of 1 and 5 yards around Nugent's 36-yard FG 3:31 into the second quarter and Krenzel's 37-yard pass to Chris Vance 8:40 before halftime.

In the decisive third quarter, Nugent added his 29-yarder, Clarett vaulted into the end zone for his third score on a seven-yard pass from Krenzel, and Michael Jenkins snagged a 40-yard bomb from Krenzel.

Clarett's final score followed the Spartans' third lost fumble, and Jenkins' TD came on the first play after the fourth quarter started.

“We're a give-and-take defense,” said OSU's two-time All-America safety Mike Doss. “Coach told us at halftime we had missed about 15 or 20 tackles, making those short passes into big gains. We tightened up and wanted to prove we can make big plays and force some turnovers.”



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