Boiler Break Down
Blocked Extra Point Helps Purdue Stun Buckeyes in OT
By Brandon Castel
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Braxton Miller and his teammates should be celebrating right now. Instead, they are trying to figure out how to make something of the rest of the season following Ohio State’s 26-23 (6-4, 3-3) overtime loss at Purdue (5-5, 3-3) Saturday.
It looked like the Buckeyes were going to pull out another come-from-behind victory in the final moments to keep their Big Ten championship hopes alive.
Looks can be deceiving.
Miller had just thrown a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Hall on fourth down, and an extra point would have given OSU a 21-20 lead in the final minute of the game.
That’s when Orhian Johnson heard the one thing he never wanted to hear.
“I was actually running down here getting ready to go on the kickoff, so I didn't get a chance to see it until after I heard the noise,” Johnson said after the game.
“I actually heard the block. I heard the thud, then I knew what it was after that.”
What he heard was Bruce Gaston’s hand smacking against the football during Ohio State’s extra-point attempt, which kept the Buckeyes from completing their comeback in the fourth quarter at Ross-Ade Stadium.
“I caught a glance of it. Saw him hit it, but I didn’t really see what happened,” center Michael Brewster said.
“For a second, I thought the game was over. Hit the (point after attempt), defense stop them and let’s get on the bus and go home. It just didn’t go down like that.”
It never seems to be that simple for these 2011 Buckeyes, who have a knack for adding drama to the most unnecessary of situations.
“I don’t know how we can let that happen,” Brewster added.
“Those are the type of mistakes you can’t have on the road. That’s not good, but you cant blame on one thing.”
After all, the game was still tied 20-20 despite the fact Ohio State had trailed the Boilermakers 17-7 at the half. Quarterback Robert Marve still had 55 seconds to lead Purdue down the field, and his 15-yard pass to Ralph Bolden put them in OSU territory at the 46-yard line.
All they needed was a field goal, but Marve was intercepted on the next play by Orhian Johnson, ensuring that overtime would be played in front of the lackluster crowd in West Lafayette.
Marve would get his redemption in overtime.
After Ohio State was forced to settle for a field goal on their opening possession, Marve connected with Gary Bush on 3rd-and-12 to give Purdue a first down at the one-yard line.
“I ran an under route across the middle. I caught Marve’s eye and went straight for the sideline,” said the sophomore receiver.
“He made the throw and I tried to get my feet down.”
He almost got in. A review showed that Bush was knocked out of bounds inside the one-yard line, so Marve finished it off with a 1-yard touchdown run to stun the Buckeyes for the second-straight time in this stadium.
“These feels just as bad if not worse,” said Brewster, who was also Ohio State’s starting center in 2009 when they were upset by a 1-5 Purdue team.
“I can’t believe that’s how it went down. I feel like we gave them that one at the end.”
They may have given it back at the end, but Purdue came out and took it early on. Much like Indiana last week, the Boilermakers came out of the gates fast and got out to an early 10-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Buckeyes looked apathetic on both sides of the ball in the first half, particularly on offense, where they were outgained 136-11 in the first quarter.
“We didn’t start the game off right,” Head Coach Luke Fickell said.
“We didn’t start out the game fast enough. We lost the field position battle early in the game. It put us behind to start the game off.”
The Buckeyes trailed 17-7 at the half and lost their best linebacker, Andrew Sweat, to a head injury in the first half, but they didn’t quit. After forcing a three-and-out on Purdue’s first possession of the second half, the Buckeyes finally broke through with a six-yard touchdown run from Miller.
“This team isn’t built to be a team that comes from behind. But we battled and kept our head up,” Fickell said.
“I liked the way we fought back in the game.”
Carson Wiggs connected on a 44-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to give Purdue a 20-14 lead, but the Buckeyes were still struggling to move the football. They had taken a few shots down field, but Miller overthrew Devin Smith and Evan Spencer on go routes down the sideline.
Miller was also having an issue with his stomach.
“I don’t think he was feeling well at some point in the game,” Brewster said of the freshman quarterback, who admitted he threw up on the sideline.
“I grabbed him and said, ‘let’s go, you’re coming on the field with me.’”
To his credit, Miller stayed in the game and led what should have been the game-winning drive. It started at the OSU 34-yard line, but Boom Herron got them into Purdue territory with a 21-yard run—his longest of the day—on first down.
Miller connected with freshman Evan Spencer for 12 yards and the Buckeyes slowly worked their way down to the Purdue 12-yard line. An illegal formation penalty pushed them back to the 17, and Ohio State was faced with a 4th-and-3 at the 13 after Miller was stopped short of the first on 3rd down.
That’s when Miller did what he does best: make plays. After scrambling to his right, he almost tried to squeeze the ball to Devin Smith in the end zone. Instead, he turned and threw back across the field to Jordan Hall, who backpedaled into the end zone.
“I was blocking the edge on the play and I told him if he has to scramble I'd leak out,” Hall said.
“He scrambled and I just raised my hands, and he threw it in the right spot.”
It would have been Miller’s second game-winning touchdown pass of the season in the final minute, but Drew Basil’s extra point was blocked by Gaston, who came up the middle between Corey Linsley and Marcus Hall.
The game wasn’t over, but it wouldn’t take long. Now all the Buckeyes are left with is question about what went wrong and where they go from here. They will face Penn State next Saturday in Ohio Stadium on Senior Day. It will also be the return of senior wideout DeVier Posey.
Box Score and Game Notes
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