By DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
COLUMBUS Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said that there are plenty of track stars masquerading as football players.
But Ted Ginn, he s a football player with track speed, Tressel said after yesterday s 21-10 Buckeye victory over Penn State. He s got a gear, and that s with the ball in his hand. I ve never seen one like him. He can go.
Ginn, who has been timed at 4.22 seconds in the 40, made it go yesterday for a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave the Buckeyes a 7-0 lead. He fielded the punt, started left, cut back to his right and went the distance untouched.
Penn State punter Jeremy Kapinos, the last man back, had an angle on Ginn but never came close.
No shot, the freshman Ginn said of Kapinos chances. Once you see daylight and the only [potential tackler] is the punter, there s no reason to even put on a move. Just find the end zone.
Ginn was a track star at Cleveland s Glenville High, where his best event was the 110-meter high hurdles. But he once considered making a run at the U.S. Olympic team in the 400-meter dash.
Track was fun, but I ve been a football player all my life and that s my first love, he said. It helped me with football because in the hurdles you have to stay straight and stay balanced.
I always want to give the team a spark. I m always thinking first downs and touchdowns.
Ginn caught two passes yesterday, both for first downs. And, of course, there was the punt return for a touchdown.
He also had an end-around run that would have been a 42-yard gain on OSU s first drive of the second half, but it was negated by a holding penalty.
Tressel rarely finds such mistakes humorous, but the Buckeye coach got off a pretty good line regarding that play.
How silly was it to hold? Tressel asked. They re not catching him. Maybe we should just have our guys go down on a knee when Teddy shifts into that gear.
He believes when he has his hands on the ball that he ll make big plays. We have to find more ways to get him the ball.
OSU RECORD: Maurice Hall put his name in the Buckeye record book in an emphatic fashion yesterday. He entered the game needing six yards to become OSU s all-time leader in kickoff return yardage. On his first chance against Penn State, Hall broke off a 62-yard return to the Nittany Lion 35, setting up a short drive for Ohio State s only offensive touchdown.
EIGHT IS ENOUGH: Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith attempted just eight passes yesterday, the fewest by the Buckeyes in a game since the 1977 Orange Bowl, when a pair of OSU quarterbacks combined to attempt just seven passes in a win over Colorado.
Certainly, the circumstances of a game always have an impact on how you do things, said Tressel, whose team went ahead 14-0 despite not having a first down to that point. We were ahead and it was a bit windy, so throwing it all over the place on every down was not going to be the easiest thing.
THE DOLDRUMS: Penn State, now 2-6, is assured of a fourth losing season in the last five years and with just three games left on the schedule, will be unable to reach the six wins necessary to become bowl eligible.
The Nittany Lions have lost 12 of their last 13 Big Ten games, 16 of their last 21 overall and nine straight on the road.
Pride has to be a factor now, said Joe Paterno, in his 39th season as the Nittany Lions head coach. It s a young team. It s not like we have a bunch of seniors. We have a young team [that is] going to be good.
RETIRING TYPE: The late Charles Chic Harley was the Buckeyes first three-time All-American (1916-17, 1919) and when Ohio Stadium was dedicated in 1922 it was often referred to as the House That Harley Built. Now, more than eight decades later, the halfback s name has been attached to it permanently.
Harley s name was added to the interior facade of the north end of the stadium yesterday as his number, 47, became the sixth to be retired by the OSU football program. His name and number joined those of Heisman Trophy winners Archie Griffin, Les Horvath, Vic Janowicz, Howard (Hopalong) Cassady and Eddie George on the facade of the upper deck.
IRONICALLY: On his family s big day, a Harley who is currently on the OSU roster suffered a season-ending knee injury while covering a punt in the first half. Rob Harley, a senior who is Chic s great-great nephew, came out on crutches during halftime to watch the ceremony.
It wasn t the ending I wanted, but it was still a great day for Chic and members of our family, Rob said.
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