Ohio State backup quarterback Kenny Guiton engineered an improbable comeback Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium, thrilling 105,290 fans by rallying his team for a tying touchdown and two-point conversion with 0:03 left in regulation and then leading a touchdown drive in overtime as the Buckeyes somehow snatched a 29-22 victory away from upset-minded Purdue.
Guiton entered the game late in the third quarter when starter Braxton Miller was knocked out of the game with an apparent head or neck injury. Then while Miller was carted to the OSU locker room and eventually to University Hospitals for tests, Guiton rallied the Buckeyes in the final minute of regulation.
Staring at a 22-14 deficit with 47 seconds remaining, Guiton first connected with wide receiver Devin Smith for 39 yards and then found wideout Evan Spencer for an 8-yard gain to give the Buckeyes hope at the Purdue 14. Following an incomplete pass, Hyde ran 3 yards for a first down at the Purdue 11 with 23 seconds remaining.
Guiton spiked the ball on first down to stop the clock and then just missed a diving Spencer near the goal line to set up third-and-10. Guiton again tried to get the ball to Spencer, but Purdue cornerback Josh Johnson was flagged for pass interference to give the Buckeyes a first-and-goal at the Purdue 2 with 0:08 showing on the clock.
On the next play, Guiton found a diving Fields just inside the goal line for a 2-yard touchdown at the 0:03 mark. Then on the two-point conversion, Guiton faded to his right before looking back to his left to find tight end Jeff Heuerman, who had broken free behind the Purdue defense for the game-tying catch.
In overtime, OSU receiver Jake Stoneburner beat Purdue linebacker Sean Robinson on a crossing pattern for a 17-yard reception on the Buckeyes’ second play, and then three plays later, Hyde dove over the pile for a 1-yard touchdown.
Purdue tried to respond, but on fourth-and-5 as he was being chased by OSU defensive lineman John Simon, Boilermakers QB Caleb Terbush overthrew tight end Crosby Wright in the back of the end zone to finish off the Buckeyes’ come-from-behind victory.
“Some of the efforts I saw out there today were legendary,” OSU head coach Urban Meyer said. “That was a moment. (Our backup) quarterback comes jogging into the game and did a heckuva job.”
When asked about his swing in emotions from watching Miller getting carted off the field to Guiton engineering the improbable comeback, Meyer shook his head, smiled and replied, “I’m still trying to figure this bad boy out. We won, right?”
Guiton finished 6 for 11 passing for 77 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Meanwhile, Miller was experiencing a subpar afternoon before his injury. The sophomore Heisman Trophy candidate completed only 9 of 20 pass attempts for 113 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. Miller added 47 yards and a touchdown on the ground, but he also lost a pair of fumbles.
Hyde was a workhorse for the Buckeyes with 19 carries for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Fields had a career-high three catches for 44 yards and a touchdown while fellow receiver Corey “Philly” Brown also had three receptions for 44 yards before he, too, was sidelined late after taking a blow to the head.
Ohio State wound up with 342 total yards while the Boilermakers had 347. Most of Purdue’s damage was done through the air as TerBush completed 19 of 30 attempts for 230 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
The Buckeyes did a creditable job against the Purdue running game, holding the Boilermakers to 117 yards on the ground. Tailback Ralph Bolden was his team’s leading rusher with 35 yards on nine carries.
Purdue jumped on the Buckeyes right out of the box when TerBush connected with running back Akeem Shavers for an 83-yard touchdown pass on the game’s first offensive play from scrimmage. Shavers moved out of the backfield and beat OSU linebacker Storm Klein in coverage, gathering the ball in about the 40-yard line and motoring the rest of the way for the score.
OSU defensive lineman Garrett Goebel blocked the extra-point try, but the Boilermakers still had a 7-6 lead and the ball game was only 17 seconds old.
The Buckeyes responded with a 10-play, 67-yard drive later in the first quarter, a possession that was marked by a fourth-and-1 run from Hyde that gained 20 yards and a third-and-10 pass play from Miller to Brown that was worth 17 yards.
Miller capped the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run between a huge hole created by right guard Marcus Hall and right tackle Reid Fragel, and after kicker Drew Basil added the PAT, Ohio State had its first lead of the afternoon at 7-6 with 5:29 remaining in the first quarter.
The lead didn’t last long, however, when Purdue sophomore Akeem Hunt took the ensuing kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown. Hunt took the ball 3 yards deep in the end zone, made a cut to the west sideline and then moved back toward the middle of the field where he turned Basil completely around at about midfield before racing into the end zone.
Boilermakers kicker Paul Griggs added the extra point to give his team a 13-7 advantage at the 5:17 mark of the opening period.
Purdue squandered the only two scoring chances of the second quarter. First, TerBush threw an ill-advised third-and-goal pass that OSU linebacker Ryan Shazier tipped at the goal line and safety C.J. Barnett intercepted in the end zone. That squandered a 19-play, 85-yard drive that took more than 10½ minutes. Then Griggs pulled his 52-yard field goal try to the left with 17 seconds left in the half.
While the Boilermakers were appearing to seize control of the first half, the Ohio State offense was stuck in neutral. The Buckeyes gained 101 yards on 22 first-quarter plays, but held the ball for fewer than four minutes in the second period, gaining zero net yards on just six plays.
OSU suddenly awoke from its first-half slumber by taking its first possession of the third quarter 80 yards in eight plays. The big plays during the drive were a 17-yard bolt by Hyde on a third-and-3 play, a 19-yard pass from Miller to Brown on third-and-10, and a 35-yard reception by Fields that pushed the ball to the Purdue 2.
One play later, Hyde followed blocks from left guard Andrew Norwell and tight end Jeff Heuerman up the middle for a 2-yard touchdown run. Basil came on for the PAT to give the Buckeyes a one-point lead at 14-13 with 7:41 remaining in the third period.
But the Boilermakers immediately answered with an eight-play, 82-yard scoring drive. TerBush completed all five of his pass attempts during the march, including a 31-yard pitch to receiver Gary Bush, who split a seam in the Ohio State zone while getting an excellent downfield block from Wright on OSU cornerback Travis Howard.
Griggs came on to add the extra point to push the Boilermakers back into the lead at 20-14 with 3:49 to go in the third quarter.
Purdue got a break on the ensuing drive when Miller fumbled on what would have been a first-down run and the loose ball was recovered by defensive tackle Bruce Gaston at the OSU 37. But the Boilermakers squandered the opportunity when Griggs’ 34-yard field-goal try was blocked by Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins with 29 seconds showing on the third-quarter clock.
The Buckeyes immediately went the other way and Miller picked up 37 yards on the next play, pushing the ball all the way to the PU 39. But the Ohio State quarterback was tackled hard on his left shoulder by Johnson and was forced to leave the game with what appeared to be a neck or head injury.
After that, the Buckeyes got only 6 more yards from there and Basil’s 50-yard field-goal attempt hit the left upright at the 14:12 mark of the fourth quarter.
Purdue couldn’t do anything with its next possession, but the Boilermakers tipped field position in their favor when Cody Webster’s punt was downed at the 1-yard line. Two plays later, as Guiton was trying to escape pressure, Heuerman was called for a block in the back penalty in the end zone, giving Purdue a safety and a 22-14 lead with 10:11 remaining.
Ohio State had a chance to at least forge a tie when it took possession at its own 20 with 6:03 remaining and got a first down when Hyde bulled his way ahead for 9 yards on a fourth-and-2. But Guiton underthrew Smith deep on first down, Hyde gained 2 yards on a second-down sideline pass, and then after a delay of game penalty made it third-and-13 on the OSU 34, Guiton heaved a deep pass for Stoneburner that was tipped and intercepted by Purdue strong safety Landon Feichter at the PU 18 with 2:40 remaining.
That left the Buckeyes down to their last gasp in regulation with 47 seconds and no timeouts remaining, but Guiton proved up to the task.