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Published: Sunday, 9/13/2009

SO CLOSE! Trojans edge Buckeyes with final drive

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

COLUMBUS - The cardiac fractures continue for the Ohio State Buckeyes, the designated heartbreak kids of college football.

The Buckeyes led No. 3 ranked Southern California for the better part of the game here Saturday night, but allowed the Trojans to drive nearly the length of the field in the closing minutes and escape with an 18-15 win.

For Ohio State, it was the sixth straight loss to a top-five rated team, and the Buckeyes seventh straight loss to USC.

USC took over at its own 14-yard line with under seven minutes to play, trailing 15-10, and after a sack and a penalty, the Trojans were back at their own five. But a series of strong runs by Joe McKnight, and pass completions by freshman quarterback Matt Barkley, were the big parts of a 14-play, 86-yard drive for the winning points.

The Trojans scored on a three-yard run by Stafon Johnson, and Barkley passed to McKnight for the two-point conversion and the eventual winning margin.

The No. 8 Buckeyes have not beaten USC since 1973. Ohio State took a 35-3 thumping from the Trojans last season in Los Angeles.

An Ohio Stadium record crowd of 106,033 were on hand for last night's game. The previous record was the 105,711 that saw the Buckeyes lose to Penn State last season.

Last night against USC, the Buckeyes encountered disaster on just the second play of the game. After OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor used a nice run fake to fool the Trojans and hit DeVier Posey over the middle for a 23-yard gain on Ohio State's first play, Pryor tried to force the ball in to a crossing Posey. USC linebacker Chris Galippo was standing in the path of the ball and intercepted, returning the ball 51 yards to the OSU 2-yard line.

It took the Trojans four plays to get the ball in the end zone, with Johnson scoring to put USC in a quick 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.

The Buckeyes answered right back, with Pryor hitting Dane Sanzenbacher on a 56-yard pass play before Dan Herron scored from two yards out. Sanzenbacher took a toss near the OSU 40 and splitting the defenders in a sprint toward the end zone before being dragged down at the USC 3.

After forcing a couple of USC punts, the Buckeyes took over at the Trojans' 44. Pryor scrambled for nine yards, and several plays later hit Posey with a nice touch pass lobbed over a defender. The play gained 34 yards and put Ohio State at the USC 2-yard line, but the Buckeyes had to settle for an 18-yard field goal by Aaron Pettrey and a 10-7 lead on the first play of the second quarter.

Ohio State failed to cash in on a big opportunity midway through the second quarter when linebacker Ross Homan intercepted USC quarterback Barkley at the OSU 36. The Buckeyes went three-and-out on their next two series, while USC crafted long drives.

The Trojans drove and missed a 44-yard field goal attempt that hit the crossbar with just under two minutes left in the half, but Southern California's final drive of the half resulted in a 22-yard field goal by Jordan Congdon that tied the game 10-10 at the break.

The Buckeyes went up 12-10 midway through the third quarter after a Jon Thoma punt pinned USC at its own 10-yard line, and the Trojans went nowhere. The snap on a punt play sailed high and through the hands of punter Billy O'Malley with the ball landing out of the end zone for a safety.

Ohio State got the ball back on a free kick after the safety, and drove to the USC 5-yard line where the Buckeyes got a 22-yard field goal from Pettrey that pushed the lead to 15-10. Ohio State held that advantage at the end of the third quarter.

Contact Matt Markey at

mmarkey@theblade.com

or 419-724-6510.



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