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Published: Saturday, 1/3/2004

OSU's Krenzel throws 4 TDs to defeat K-State

BY DAVID VEST
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

TEMPE, Ariz. - Craig Krenzel apparently doesn't like getting his face slapped.

That's how the Ohio State quarterback figured it would feel if he and the rest of the Buckeyes' seniors, national champs a year ago, ended their college football careers with two straight defeats.

Krenzel, who finished his career with a 24-3 record as a starter, blocked the mythical slap by throwing four touchdown passes last night to lead Ohio State to a 35-28 Fiesta Bowl victory over Kansas State.

“We wanted to show the country we deserve to be in the BCS and that we deserve to play the best teams in the country,” said Krenzel, who was named this game's most valuable player on offense for the second straight year by going 11-of-24 for 189 yards and matching his career-high in touchdowns.

After a 3-for-13 start, Kansas State quarterback Ell Roberson, who was accused of sexual assault Thursday, completed 20 of 52 passes for 294 yards and one interception. He ran for 32 yards.

The Ohio State defense held Kansas State's All-American running back Darren Sproles to a season-low 38 yards on 13 carries.

Buckeyes linebacker A.J. Hawk, who recorded 10 tackles, was named the game's most valuable player on defense. Linebacker Robert Reynolds also had 10 tackles.

Ohio State, which lost the Big Ten title to Michigan on Nov. 22, built a 21-0 lead, then held on for its third victory in four Fiesta Bowl appearances.

The Buckeyes took a 7-0 lead thanks to Harlen Jacobs, who blocked a punt by Kansas State's Jared Brite, and John Hollins, who scooped up the ball at Kansas State's 7-yard line and lumbered into the end zone with 6:41 left in the first quarter.

Kansas State failed to get a first down on its next possession and then punted for the fourth time in four drives.

Ohio State (11-2) took control at Kansas State's 43-yard line and quickly drove down the field for a touchdown.

Bam Childress keyed the six-play scoring drive by catching a Krenzel pass and racing down the right sideline 36 yards to Kansas State's 8-yard line.

Krenzel, who was off-target early in the game, capped the drive with a nifty, on-the-run touchdown toss to Santonio Holmes with 2:49 left in the first quarter.

Krenzel's pass was perfect, just out of the reach of Kansas State defensive back Cedrick Williams, who had picked off Krenzel's third pass of the game.

Williams intercepted another pass by Krenzel on Ohio State's next possession, but Kansas State couldn't convert the turnover into any points.

Instead, Kansas State punted once again.

Ohio State increased its lead to 21-0 with 6:49 to play until halftime when Krenzel threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins.

“I was a little rusty,” Krenzel said. “But we settled down and found ways to get the ball in the end zone.”

Chris Gamble set up the one-play, six-second drive when he intercepted a Roberson pass at Kansas State's 17-yard line.

Kansas State finally put together an effective drive on its next-to-last possession of the first half and cut the lead to 21-7 with 3:01 left before halftime.

Roberson keyed an 11-play, 70-yard drive by completing a 31-yard pass to Antoine Polite. Darren Sproles got Kansas State on the scoreboard three plays later by taking a pitch from Roberson and racing six yards around left end for a touchdown with 3:01 left in the first half.

Kansas State (11-3) trimmed the deficit to 21-14 with another 70-yard touchdown drive on its first possession of the second half.

Roberson completed two passes on the drive, then capped it by rushing to the end zone from 14 yards out.

The drive was aided by a pass interference call that negated another interception by Gamble.

Ohio State zapped Kansas State's momentum by scoring touchdowns on its next two drives.

Krenzel performed well on both drives. He completed three of four attempts on the first one, including an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jenkins.

“That was crucial,” Krenzel said of the Buckeyes' fourth touchdown.

Krenzel rushed twice for eight yards and threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Holmes to cap the second drive, which gave Ohio State a 35-14 lead with 37 seconds left in the third quarter.

Kansas State, which entered the game averaging 37.2 points per game, added

an early fourth-quarter touchdown to make the score 35-21.

But the Big 12 champs' bid for a comeback took a major hit when Terry Dillinger's 45-yard field-goal attempt midway through the fourth quarter hit the left upright and bounced back toward the line of scrimmage.



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