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Published: Sunday, 10/19/2003

Defense saves OSU again

Ohio State's Dustin Fox (37) isn't close enough to do anything but watch Iowa's Nate Kaeding score on a fake field goal. Ohio State's Dustin Fox (37) isn't close enough to do anything but watch Iowa's Nate Kaeding score on a fake field goal.

COLUMBUS - Ohio State's offense was awful.

Its defense came to the rescue once again with another stellar performance.

The eighth-ranked Buckeyes, who own the nation's best run defense, held Iowa to 66 yards rushing on 40 attempts and 1.6 yards per carry yesterday in their 19-10 victory.

“This defense just keeps getting better and better,'' linebacker A.J. Hawk said. “We're really starting to hit on all cylinders.''

The Buckeyes held Iowa tailback Fred Russell to a season-low 42 yards on 22 carries - a 1.9 average. Russell, who had 11 carries for no gain or a loss, ranked second in the Big Ten and eighth nationally with 121 yards per game on the ground entering yesterday's game.

“We knew he was a cutback runner,'' defensive end Will Smith said. “We knew if we played our responsibilities and everybody was in their gaps, somebody was going to make the play. And that's what we went out and did.''

Overall, the ninth-ranked Hawkeyes - who were missing center Brian Ferentz - managed just 219 total yards offense and 3.3 yards per play.

The Buckeyes' defense - minus linebacker Robert Reynolds, who was serving a one-game suspension for his throat-gouging of Wisconsin quarterback Jim Sorgi last week - picked off a pass, sacked Iowa quarterback Nathan Chandler three times and recovered two fumbles.

They also were credited with a safety when guard-turned-center Eric Rothwell snapped the ball over Chandler's head and out of the end zone with 3:03 remaining.

“Last week, we were kind of taking it pretty hard that we lost and we kind of felt that Wisconsin's offensive line kind of got the edge against us,'' Smith said. “So the defense as a whole came out today fired up.''

CARTER IMPRESSES: Wide receiver Drew Carter caught six passes for 95 yards.

The six receptions tied his career high, set against N.C. State earlier this season. And the 95 yards top his previous high of 90, set last week against Wisconsin.

Carter, who had a long reception of 34 yards, could have had better totals had he not been called for pass interference on a 42-yard catch on a flea-flicker from quarterback Craig Krenzel late in the first quarter

“Drew is a great receiver,'' Krenzel said. “He's the fastest guy on the field when he's out there. He can do some things when he gets the ball.”

QUICK HITS: Ohio State improved to 11-1 in its last 12 games decided by 10 points or less. Five of the Buckeyes' games this season have been decided by that margin. ... Bobby Carpenter made his first start at linebacker, replacing Robert Reynolds, who was serving a one-game suspension. Carpenter had two tackles. ... Defensive end Darrion Scott also rejoined the starting lineup, but didn't finish the game after being re-injured. ... Alex Stepanovich started at right guard, replacing senior Bryce Bishop. ... Mike Nugent's career-long 53-yard field goal topped his previous best of 51. It also was the second-longest kick in Ohio Stadium history, bettered only by Dan Stultz's 55-yarder against Indiana in 1997. Nugent has 41 career field goals, tying him with Vlade Janakievski for third all-time. ... Krenzel improved to 19-2 as OSU's starting quarterback. ... The Buckeyes have won 14 straight home games. ... Coach Jim Tressel is now 6-0 following a loss the previous week.

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