Oct. 9, 1999
By RUSTY MILLER
AP Sports Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A wet field, a bad kick and a big hand helped Ohio
State beat Purdue.
Brent Johnson blocked a potential tying field goal with 53 seconds left and
Steve Bellisari's late 68-yard run preserved the lead as No. 21 Ohio State held
off No. 17 Purdue 25-22 Saturday.
"That was a gutty performance," Ohio State coach John Cooper said. "We're
not the most talented team. This is not the best team we've had around here.
But what can I say? They laid it on the line today."
Quarterback Drew Brees drove Purdue from its own 20 to the Ohio State 14
with just under a minute left. Brees' third-and-3 pass for Chris Daniels was
tipped away by Buckeye cornerback Nate Clements, and coach Joe Tiller sent his
field goal unit onto the field.
"We weren't able to cash in and had to settle for a field-goal attempt,"
But the 29-yard try by Travis Dorsch was a low line drive. Johnson, who
broke through the wall over the middle of the line, batted the ball down with
his right hand as he was falling to the soggy turf.
"The opportunity presented itself. I was there and I made it happen," the
junior defensve end said. "I was just happy I had a part in the game."
Dorsch said it was difficult to remember details of the pivotal play.
"It's hard to tell because everything happened so fast," he said. "We're
all out there with on common goal - to make the kick - and it didn't happen."
Two plays later, Bellisari slashed through a gap around left end and raced
to the Purdue 21 to end the Boilermakers' hopes.
Ohio State (4-2, 1-1) took the lead for good on Jonathan Wells' 2-yard run
with 5:13 remaining. Michael Wiley added the two-point conversion run after a
pass interference call against Purdue.
Ohio State won despite being beaten in most statistical categories. Purdue
had more yards (380-369) and first downs (21-19) and kept the ball for almost
nine minutes longer than the Buckeyes.
"It wasn't a well-played game," Cooper said. "We can play better than
Not until Bellisari's late dash on turf made slippery by an all-day rain did
the Buckeyes rush for more yardage than Purdue freshman tailback Montrell Lowe,
who piled up 153 yards on 25 attempts.
The game was every bit as sloppy as the weather. Purdue had 12 penalties for
86 yards and Ohio State had three turnovers that led to 16 Boilermaker points.
The Buckeyes fumbled the ball twice in their last touchdown drive, but came up
with the recovery each time.
"We were in a position to win in the fourth quarter and that's what you
want," Tiller said.
Brees, heralded as a Heisman Trophy contender, completed 24 of 39 passes for
205 yards and was held without a touchdown pass for the first time in 19 games.
He came in averaging two touchdown passes and 322 yards passing per game.
"It's frustrating because we've been known as a team that if the offense
needs a score late, we can get it done," Brees said. "But today we didn't."
Bellisari struggled through the air, throwing two interceptions while
completing just 10 of 26 passes for 174 yards. But he ended up leading the
Buckeyes with 96 rushing yards on 17 carries.
Purdue led 13-7 at the half, but Ohio State retook the lead on Wiley's
7-yard halfback pass to tight end Darnell Sanders. Wiley lost two critical
fumbles in last week's 42-17 loss to Wisconsin and was held out of the starting
lineup for missing a class this week.
He has now completed eight of his nine career pass attempts and has thrown
for two touchdowns.
After Dan Stultz's 45-yard field goal put Ohio State ahead 17-13, Purdue
took a 22-17 advantage on Dorsch's 22-yard field goal and Lowe's 5-yard run at
the outset of the fourth quarter. Lowe's TD was set up by Willie Fells'
interception and 29-yard return to the Ohio State 5.
Purdue fumbled the opening kickoff and seven plays later Derek Combs
sidestepped two tackles on a 5-yard touchdown run.
The Boilermakers pulled even after Adrian Beasley's interception gave them
the ball at the Ohio State 27.
After a first down, Brees handed the ball to wide receiver Vinny Sutherland
on the reverse. Sutherland stopped quickly at right end and lofted a looping
pass back to the left sideline. With no Ohio State defender within 15 yards,
Brees waited on the pass, tightroped along the sideline and completed the
12-yard scoring play.