CHAMPAIGN, Ill. Dane Sanzenbacher scored a touchdown on the first pass reception of his college career at Ohio State. Yesterday, 22 games later, the former Central Catholic standout found the end zone again, taking in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor in the second quarter of Ohio State s 30-20 win over Illinois.
I guess it s about time that was a long wait, Sanzenbacher said about the nearly 1,500 offensive plays the Buckeyes have run since he caught a three-yard scoring pass from Todd Boeckman in the 2007 season-opener against Youngstown State.
Sanzenbacher served as a backup receiver most of last season as a freshman, and had 12 receptions for 89 yards. This year he has had a more prominent role, and is usually the first receiver on the field after starters Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline. Sanzenbacher has 19 receptions for 223 yards this season and his 11.7 yards-per-catch average is second-best on the team.
Sanzenbacher was involved in one of the game s more controversial plays when, in the fourth quarter and with Ohio State leading Illinois 23-13, he tried to retrieve a tipped pass that went off the hands of OSU teammate Dan Herron. Illinois defensive back Donsay Hardeman made helmet-to-helmet contact with Sanzenbacher near the Illinois sideline, and was called for a personal foul.
Instead of facing fourth down near midfield, the Buckeyes had a first down at the Illinois 39 after the play, and scored three plays later to put the game away.
I think that s why they flagged it [helmet-to-helmet], Sanzenbacher said.
I didn t really see him coming, but that happens in football. It didn t feel great, but it kept the drive alive. We were made aware before the season started that there would be an emphasis on those kinds of hits, so I m not really surprised by the flag.
Sanzenbacher said he was not the first option on the 20-yard touchdown pass he caught from Pryor, but the freshman quarterback hung in the pocket long enough for Sanzenbacher to get open.
I m not the first read on that, but I just slid behind the defender and found some space, he said.
That s a credit to Terrelle and how he s grown as a quarterback. Earlier in the season, I think he would have tucked it in and ran.
MOELLER MAYHEM: Ohio State sophomore linebacker Tyler Moeller played a key role in two Illinois turnovers, and had two tackles behind the line of scrimmage as part of his seven stops in the game. Moeller, who missed a couple of games this season due to injury, forced a fumble with a big hit on Illinois quarterback Juice Williams, and later hit Williams just as he released the ball and an interception resulted.
Tyler created a lot of mismatches out there, and when he blitzed, he usually got home, Ohio State safety Kurt Coleman said. He goes like crazy when he s out on the field, so it s no surprise he figured in on a couple big plays for the defense.
BEANIE VAULT: Ohio State junior running back Chris Beanie Wells etched another prominent place in the season highlight film with a 25-yard run in the third quarter that included a clean leap over the tackle effort of Illinois defensive back Donsay Hardeman. As Wells broke past the line and accelerated, Hardeman went to hit him low and Wells hurdled the move and continued down the field.
He looked like Edwin Moses out there, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said, referring to the Olympic hurdling champion.
BUCKEYE BITS: Ohio State has won a school record 15 straight Big Ten road games. Its last conference loss on the road came at Penn State in October of 2005 With Pryor and Wells each rushing for 100 yards, it was the first time Ohio State had two players clear that mark since 2005 when Antonio Pittman had 171 and Troy Smith 127 yards against Iowa Wells became the sixth Buckeye to gain 3,000 career rushing yards. He rushed for 143 yards against the Illini and has 3,142 career yards.