Saturday, November 12, 2011

BRAXTON MILLER'S HEROICS NOT ENOUGH FOR BUCKEYES AT PURDUE

Braxton Miller nearly leads OSU
to victory over Purdue. (AP Photo)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Braxton Miller did it again.

Unfortunately for Ohio State, it wouldn't be enough this time around.

With 55 seconds remaining in the game, and the Buckeyes facing a fourth down at the Purdue 13-yard line, Miller rolled right, hurdled a defender and lobbed a perfect spiral off his back foot to tailback Jordan Hall in the end zone for the game-tying touchdown — just an extra point away from a second miracle victory in the last three weeks.

However, the Boilermakers would pull off a last-second surprise of their own Saturday afternoon, blocking the ensuing Drew Basil extra point attempt, keeping the game tied at 20-20 and forcing overtime.

"It stinks," OSU senior center Mike Brewster said. "It came down to an extra point."

Purdue would keep the momentum rolling into the extra session.

After holding the Buckeyes to a field goal on the opening series of overtime, quarterback Robert Marve — on third-and-12 at the OSU 15 — would connect with receiver Gary Bush inside the Buckeyes' 1, setting up first-and-goal to go for the Boilermakers.

Marve would plunge it across the goal line on the ensuing play, giving Purdue the 26-23 upset victory, and putting the Buckeyes hopes of a Big Ten title run on life support.

It's the fourth win for the Boilermakers (5-5, 3-3 Big Ten) in the last six contests against the Buckeyes (6-4, 3-3) at Ross-Ade Stadium.

For the second consecutive week, the Buckeyes found themselves in an early 10-0 hole. This time, though, they were unable to climb their way completely back out.

"We didn't start the game off right," OSU head coach Luke Fickell said. "We didn't start out the game fast enough. We lost the field possession battle early in the game. It put us behind to start the game off. Since we started slow we knew the game was going to come down to turnovers or other things.

"This team isn't built to be a team that comes from behind. But we battled and kept our head up. I liked the way we fought back in the game."

The Buckeyes wouldn't find the end zone until the 11:42 mark of the second quarter, when Miller — on third and long — connected with Hall for a 38-yard pitch-and-catch score to pull the Boilermakers' lead to 10-7.

But keeping with the theme of the day, whenever Ohio State seemed to have a breakthrough moment, the Boilermakers would be there to slam the door in their face.

Just prior to half time — and only leading by three — Purdue went on a 13-play, 88-yard drive capped off by a Ralph Bolden touchdown run from the Buckeyes' 7, giving the Boilers a 17-7 advantage going into the break.

The Buckeyes came out in the second half determined to get things going with their struggling run game, driving 58 yards on the opening series of the third quarter — all on the ground. The eight-play drive was finished off with a Miller six-yard touchdown keeper, pulling the Boilermakers' lead back to three.

It would be a defensive struggle for much of the rest of the game, as only Purdue was able to muster a field goal before the Buckeyes' final offensive series of the regulation.

The Buckeyes drove 66 yards on 10 plays on the final drive and ate 5:20 off the clock. Miller's final touchdown toss seemed to be his second game-winning throw in the past three weeks (he hit Devin Smith on a 40-yard contest closer against Wisconsin back on October 29 in Columbus).

However, the Boilermakers were able to get penetration on the Buckeyes' front, blocking the point-after-attempt for the game-saver ... and eventual game-winner.

The true freshman Miller finished the day 8-of-18 passing for 132 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 43 yards and a score on the ground.

The story of the day was Purdue's success against the Buckeyes' vaunted rushing attack. Ohio State, who had averaged 275 yards over the past three weeks — were only able to grind out 163 in Saturday's loss. The Boilers held senior tailback Dan "Boom" Herron to his first sub-100 yard outing of the season (18-62).

"You know, their defense played a great game," Herron said. "We just couldn't get a handle on them today. Now we have to watch our form, learn from this game and get better from it."

Purdue also found some success offensively against the Buckeyes Saturday, totaling 363 yards — 234 of which coming by air on quick-hitters and OSU missed tackles in the secondary.

Purdue quarterbacks Caleb TerBush and Marve went for a combined 25-of-37 passing for 234 yards. Bolden led the Boilers on the ground with 80 yards and a score on 18 carries in the win.

True freshman linebacker Ryan Shazier led the way for the Buckeyes' defense, posting a career-high seven tackles (one for loss) in the defeat, including a forced fumble.

Safety Orhian Johnson added an interception in the loss.