When Urban Meyer took over the Ohio State football program in January, Kenny Guiton was on the verge of receiving a one-way bus ticket back home to Texas. On Saturday, Guiton earned a lifetime position in Buckeye lore, engineering an improbable comeback in the final minute of regulation as Ohio State beat Purdue, 29-22, in overtime.
The junior backup quarterback was thrust into a leading role when Braxton Miller suffered an apparent head injury late in the third quarter. The Buckeyes were trailing 20-14 at the time and in need of a major spark on offense.
They got it. But it didn’t come until they were nearly out of time.
Ohio State took possession of the ball at its own 39-yard line with 47 seconds left in the game and no timeouts. On the first play of the drive, Devin Smith, as he has so often late in games, got behind the defense for 39 yards. An eight-yard completion to Evan Spencer put Ohio State inside the red zone. After an incomplete pass, 23 seconds remained. On 3rd-and-2, Carlos Hyde gained three yards for the first down. After a spike and an incompletion, Guiton lobbed a pass to the end zone for Spencer, who had badly beaten Purdue cornerback Josh Johnson. Realizing he had no chance to make a play on the ball, Johnson interfered with Spencer.
Eight seconds and, in all likelihood, two plays remained. But Guiton would only need one.
On the next snap, he found Chris Fields open at the goal line. A poorly thrown ball nearly derailed Ohio State’s touchdown, though, as Fields had to dive for the ball. The play went to the replay booth, but it was ruled a touchdown with three seconds left.
It sent the 105,290 fans in attendance – actually less because several thousand left – into a frenzy. But Ohio State still had to convert the two-point conversion.
Offensive coordinator Tom Herman ran a play called Y Hide, and it worked to perfection. Guiton first went to his right, where the rest of the offense shifted except for tight end Jeff Heuerman, who came back left and was wide open for the game-tying points.
However, it was nearly the play that wasn’t.
“I asked him before we got the ball, I said, 'What’s our two-point play,'” head coach Urban Meyer said. “The offensive line was screaming at me to run the ball. I mean, screaming, and same with Carlos Hyde. And I almost changed that play. I said, ‘Tom, let’s pound it at them.’ He said, ‘No, let’s go with this.’ So he won that battle.
“Great call, great execution.”
Ohio State took possession of the ball first in the overtime. With momentum working in his favor, Guiton connected with Jake Stoneburner on a 17-yard reception down the middle of the field on the Buckeyes’ second play. Three plays later, Hyde found the end zone to give Ohio State its second lead of the game.
Purdue never gained a first down in the extra period. On 4th-and-5, quarterback Caleb TerBush was hurried and overthrew his receiver in the end zone.
“Some of the efforts I saw tonight were legendary,” Meyer said. “That was a moment that I'll certainly never forget.
“Forty-seven seconds, no timeouts. I just can’t say enough about it.”
Said Herman: “That was the greatest team win I’ve ever been a part of.”
Guiton finished 6-of-11 passing for 77 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Miller was 9 of 20 for 113 yards with a pick. He only had 47 yards rushing on 12 carries, scoring a touchdown but also losing two fumbles.
Miller was taken to the Ohio State University Medical Center because of concerns of a concussion. He underwent head, neck and shoulder tests but was symptom-free of all ailments. He was released.
Hyde finished with 91 yards and two touchdowns, while Fields had 44 yards receiving and a touchdown.
In its past two games, Purdue’s defense was shredded by Michigan and Wisconsin for more than 1,000 yards, including 771 yards rushing. Ohio State could never get things going, though, finishing with 342 total yards and 152 rushing.
Purdue was able to rack up passing yards, but the Ohio State defense played arguably its best game of the season. The Boilermakers had 230 yards through the air but 83 of them came on one play.
TerBush completed 19 of 30 attempts for 230 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Purdue only gained 117 yards on the ground.
For the better part of a decade, Purdue has given Ohio State fits. The Buckeyes lost to the Boilermakers in 2000, 2004, 2009 and 2001. But each of those games was played at Ross-Ade Stadium. Purdue has not won in Columbus since 1988.
Meyer tried to downplay the revenge factor, but it was clearly on the team’s mind after several comments made during the week. For 59 minutes, however, it looked like Purdue would do the unthinkable for a third time in four seasons. When Danny Hope said, ‘Get used to it,’ after beating Ohio State in 2009, many people laughed and dismissed it as an emotional comment at an emotional moment.
But late in Saturday’s game it looked like Hope’s comments were not without merit.
Purdue scored on the first play of the game when TerBush found running back Akeem Shavers weaving through the Ohio State defense unnoticed. Storm Klein was the last defender to have a chance at defending Shavers, but he was beaten badly. After a 60-yard run, Shavers was in the end zone on a 83-yard pass play. Garrett Goebel blocked the Boilermakers’ extra point.
It was the fifth touchdown this season of 50-plus yards against Ohio State. From 2007-11, there were only two scoring plays of that distance converted against the Ohio State defense.
Ohio State didn’t get its offense going until the third possession. That’s when the Buckeyes went to its bread and butter – running the football. The 10-play drive consisted of seven positive plays, six of which were rushes. The jump start came on 4th-and-1 near midfield, when Hyde ran for 20 yards. Miller then hooked up with Corey Brown on 3rd-and-10, eluding pressure and throwing on the run. Miller scored from eight yards out on the next play. After Basil made the point-after it was 7-6 Ohio State.
But Purdue kick returner Akeem Hunt returned the ensuing kick 100 yards for a touchdown. Eschewing the early two-point conversion, Hope took the automatic points and kicked the extra point for a 13-7 lead.
Ohio State has been outscored 56-51 in the first quarter for the season.
On Saturday, it didn’t get much better in the second quarter. Not only did Ohio State not score, it finished with a net zero yards. The offense had eight passing yards and minus-eight rushing yards in the period.
Purdue squandered multiple scoring opportunities in the second quarter. A 19-play, 10 minute, 32 second drive ended when TerBush threw an interception in the end zone. Then, the Boilermakers had a 52-yard field goal attempt miss badly.
As they have done more than once this season, the Buckeyes came out of the half a different team. They took their second possession 80 yards in an impressive eight plays, three of which gained more than 15 yards. Hyde had a 17-yard run, Brown had a 19-yard reception and Fields had a 35-yard catch. The drive-capper was a two-yard touchdown run from Hyde.
But just when it seemed like Ohio State had finally shifted momentum, Purdue answered with an eight-play drive of its own. TerBush was a perfect 6 for 6 on the drive for 73 yards and a touchdown.
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Facing its latest deficit of the season, Ohio State was in need of big plays. Instead, Purdue got it when Miller fumbled and the Boilermakers recovered. Attempting to get three points off the turnover, Purdue’s 34-yard field foal was blocked by Johnathan Hankins.
On the first play of Ohio State’s next drive, Miller ran for 37 yards but was taken down hard to the ground. He was tended to by medical personnel on the field and then taken to the locker room on a cart.
Basil then missed a field goal. Ohio State forced Purdue to punt, and the Boilermakers changed the field position by pinning the Buckeyes at their own one-yard line.
Two plays later, Guiton ran for a first down from the one after being pressured. But Heuerman was pegged for a block in the back penalty in the end zone, resulting in a safety and eight-point advantage for Purdue.
Ohio State took over possession of the football with 6:03 remaining, but Guiton badly underthrew a pass and it was intercepted.
Three minutes later, he was a hero throughout Columbus.