Ohio State takes long road to crown

Buckeyes win in 2 OTs, scoring a TD in each, to claim first title since 1968

No. 1 Miami ties on last play of 4th

OSU's goal-line stand halts 2001 champs, hurt Dorsey

Fiesta Bowl

January 04, 2003|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

TEMPE, Ariz. - Miami's reign as college football's undisputed heavyweight champion ended here last night.

In the wildest finish ever in the short history of the Bowl Championship Series, Ohio State knocked off the top-ranked Hurricanes, 31-24, in the Fiesta Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium in double overtime.

After tailback Maurice Clarett gave the Buckeyes the lead with a 5-yard touchdown, Miami was stopped on fourth-and-goal from the 1 when Ken Dorsey's desperation pass was knocked away by linebacker Matt Wilhelm after Cie Grant rushed the Hurricanes quarterback.

The victory gave Ohio State (14-0) its first national championship since 1968, and the sixth in school history. The defeat ended a 34-game winning streak for heavily favored Miami (12-1), which was denied a second straight title and sixth overall.

Playing without tailback Willis McGahee, who was knocked out of the game with a knee injury in the fourth quarter, the Hurricanes were forced to pass. But Dorsey, who had just returned after being knocked out with a shoulder injury, couldn't complete the pressured pass.

When the ball hit the field, it set off a wild celebration by the Buckeyes and their thousands of fans who had made up most of the crowd of 77,502. It marked the first time in the history of the BCS that the championship game had gone into overtime.

"We've had always had the best damn band in the land," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said in addressing the crowd after the game. "Now we've got the best damn team in the land."

On Miami's first possession of overtime, the Hurricanes drove from the Ohio State 25 to the 8. After a 1-yard run by backup tailback tailback Jarrett Payton, Dorsey found Winslow for the touchdown.

After the Buckeyes started with a 5-yard run by quarterback Craig Krenzel, the Hurricanes put on the pressure. They forced a motion penalty by the Buckeyes, then sacked Krenzel for the first time all night.

An incomplete pass set up a fourth-and-14 from the 29. But Krenzel hit Michael Jenkins for a 17-yard gain. Krenzel then gained 7 yards, but two more incomplete passes set up another fourth down. This time, the Buckeyes had fourth-and-three at the 5.

Under pressure from Miami's pass rush, Krenzel threw to Chris Gamble in the end zone. As Gamble turned to catch the ball, he was held by Miami cornerback Glenn Sharpe. The flag was thrown late, but the call appeared to be correct.

It set up a first down at the 1, and two plays later, Krenzel went in for the touchdown. The Buckeyes moved before the snap on the point after, pushing the ball back 5 yards, but place-kicker Michael Nugent forced a second overtime by calmly making the 25-yarder.

The Miami forced overtime with the help of a 50-yard punt return by Roscoe Parrish, who brought the ball back to the Ohio State 26 with a little over two minutes left in regulation.

After getting down to the 23, the Hurricanes allowed the clock to wind down to three seconds. Following three timeouts - two by the Buckeyes trying to freeze Sievers - the senior place-kicker's 40-yard attempt slid just inside the right goal post.

Just as the Hurricanes looked as if they were going to charge back from a 17-7 deficit to either tie the game or take the lead, the Buckeyes' defense made the necessary adjustments and, in the case of Willis McGahee, one devastating hit.

After Dorsey drove Miami from its own 24 to the Ohio State 35 behind long bursts by McGahee and a couple of mid-range passes to tight end Kellen Winslow, All-American safety Michael Doss tipped a pass away on second-and-10.

On third down, Dorsey threw a swing pass to McGahee. But just as the sophomore tailback was starting to get some steam, free safety Will Allen made a flying helmet-to-knee tackle, knocking McGahee for a 2-yard loss and ultimately out of the game.

As McGahee was being helped off the field and to the locker room shortly afterward, Todd Sievers came on for a 54-yard field-goal attempt. Sievers, whose previous best was a 53-yarder against Florida earlier this season, missed wide right.

Ohio State had a chance to add to its lead as Krenzel drove the Buckeyes from their own 38 to the Miami 26. The Buckeyes eventually had to settle to settle for a 44-yard field goal try by the normally reliable Nugent. He missed wide right as well.

The Hurricanes started to move the ball behind the combination of Dorsey to Winslow. On third-and-eight from the Ohio State 47, a pass from Dorsey was caught by Parrish around the 19.

But cornerback Dustin Fox, considered by many to be the weak link in Ohio State's secondary, caused Parrish to fumble. Allen recovered at the 18 with a little over five minutes left in the game.

After taking a 14-7 lead at halftime with two touchdowns in the final 2:28, Ohio State built on its lead early in the third quarter. The Buckeyes stopped Miami on its opening possession, then began its own drive at the 28.

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