In what was a tight game between two Big Ten foes and a
difficult matchup for the Buckeyes a year ago, Ron Zook switched quarterbacks
with 11:49 remaining and put the nail in the coffin for Fighting Illini. Maybe
the hard hit by Ross Homan the previous drive on Juice Williams or the change
in direction to playing against the wind influenced his decision, yet his team
was down by 17 with most of the fourth quarter remaining when he made the switch
to backup Eddie McGee who was not able to put the Illini into a scoring position
on two consecutive drives ending any hope for his team.
By Steve Patterson
First Half Scoring
State was able to get an early lead on
Illinois in Evanston
today with the assistance of great field position throughout most of the first
half and two early turnovers by Illinois
quarterback Juice Williams; One interception thrown to Kurt Coleman and one
fumble recovered by Nader Abdallah. When Ohio State
started drives in Illini territory they were able to score touchdowns in the
first quarter. The first drive featured runs by both Chris Wells and Terrelle
Pryor with Pryor running off the right side for a one yard touchdown to put the
Buckeyes on the board first. Illinois
came back to score but a Safety by Malcolm Jenkins blocking a punt put the
Buckeyes on top at the end of the first period.
Pryor and Wells Lead the Way
ran well and often with Chris Wells and Terrelle Pryor both having big days.
Pryor finished with 110 yards rushing on 13 carries and a touchdown. He also
was 6 for 10 passing the ball, for 49 yards and one touchdown. Wells ended the
day early with 144 yards and a touchdown. His replacement, Daniel Herron, also
looked impressive with 31 yards and a touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Tressel Ball Makes Things Tighter
minute left in the first half, Head Coach Jim Tressel went into ball control
mode and Illinois
capitalized on the opportunity with a field goal going into halftime. Matt
Eller kick a 44 yard field goal after Juice Williams drove the team into
scoring position with only 41 seconds remaining on the clock. Ohio State
had scored two previous touchdowns in the quarter, a touchdown run by Chris
Wells and a touchdown reception by Dane Sanzenbacher, so they remained in
control 23 to 13 at the mid-point.
Zook Switches to McGee
uneventful third quarter of punting led into the fourth quarter where McGee
took over for Williams at quarterback and the Illini looked hopeless. Ohio State
was able to maintain a good cushion in spite of a late touchdown throw from
Williams to Chris Duvalt. The final score 30-20 could have been much closer if
Williams had been allowed to stay in the game and make the spectacular plays
that he is capable of, which kept them in the game today and led to a victory
one year ago.