They were talking about this game a year in Pennsylvania, and the Keystone State players had practiced hard all week and were focused on getting a victory. In the end, however, it was the Buckeye State team that hung around and came out on top in the 47th annual Big 33 classic, 34-30. Incoming Buckeye Ted Ginn was named the MVP after putting up 142 receiving yards and a TD, throwing a 36-yard TD pass and deflecting a key third down pass to hold Pennsylvania to a field goal attempt.
Ohio jumped out early as after a three-and-out by Pennsylvania, the Buckeye State team took over and moved down the field on a scoring drive that was capped off by a 30-yard TD pass from Brian Hoyer to Erik Haw. Pennsylvania countered on the next drive with a 42-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
After the teams exchanged punts, Ohio struck quickly as Indiana-bound QB Grant Gregory hit Buckeye Ted Ginn, Jr. at around midfield, who then ran away from the defender for an 82-yard TD strike. The PAT gave Ohio a 14-3 lead.
Pennsylvania struck back on the following drive as after a few plays, Penn State-bound QB Anthony Morelli hit running back Andrew Johnson for a 57-yard strike that moved the ball down inside the 5-yard line. Johnson then ran it in on third down to help Pennsylvania cut the lead to 14-10.
After an Ohio punt pinned Pennsylvania back at the 5-yard line, Pennsylvania moved down the field quickly as Morelli hit OSU-bound Devon Lyons for a long gain that put the ball on the Ohio 26-yard line. Pennsylvania went up top 17-14 shortly after on a 1-yard run by running back Curtis Brinkley.
With less than a minute left in the half, Pennsylvania attempted a squib kick, but the ball hit Ohio's Nii Adjei Oninku and was recovered by Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania moved down the field quickly on a Morelli-to-Lyons screen that Lyons turned into a big gain and a throwback from fullback James Bryant to quarterback Chad Henne that put the ball inside the Ohio 10-yard line, but Ohio stood strong when a last-second field goal failed.
In the first half, Ohio had 167 total yards to Pa.'s 262. The Buckeye state had just 10 rushing yards to Pennsylvania's 42. Morelli had 127 of Pennsylvania's passing yards.
To open the second half, Ohio struck quickly as Ohio moved down the field in four plays and scored on an Anthony Turner-to-Asante White touchdown. White was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but Jason Giannini kicked the deep extra point to give Ohio the 21-17 lead.
Pennsylvania struck right back as on the opening play of the following drive, Chad Henne hit Devon Lyons for a deep pass that brought the ball inside the 20, and then Curtis Brinkley ran the ball in from 17 yards for the touchdown and a 23-21 lead. The extra point was blocked, and on the return, a hit on Ted Ginn ignited a moment of tension between the two teams as players from both teams came on the field, resulting in offsetting personal foul penalties.
The tension continued on the next drive and the coaching staffs tried to calm down players, while Ohio's drive resulted in a punt that gave Pennsylvania the ball at midfield. Pennsylvania was forced to punt shortly after taking possession, and Ohio took over at their own 8-yard line. Ohio moved the ball to around midfield before being forced to punt, but the punt was blocked by James Bryant, the only player who rushed the punt. The ball was picked up by Bryant and advanced inside the Ohio 20. Running back Dan Lawlor punched it in for a 2-yard TD to close the drive, and the extra point gave Pennsylvania a 30-21 lead.
Ohio would answer though as Grant Gregory led the team down the field on a long drive that was capped off by a 6-yard TD run by Tony Howard. The Giannini PAT closed the Pennsylvania lead to 30-28.
Pennsylvania quickly got back in the swing of things on a Curtis Brinkley kick return that gave them the ball at the Ohio 35. Pennsylvania could not capitalize on the field position as Ohio held on a 3rd-and-long and a blocked field goal attempt gave Ohio the ball just past their own 20.
Brian Hoyer guided Ohio's offense down the field on a nifty drive, and then the Buckeye state struck with a trick play as Hoyer passed the ball backwards to Ted Ginn, who then passed the ball 36 yards downfield to a wide open Dustin Woods for an Ohio touchdown. Ohio's two-point conversion failed, leaving the Buckeye state with a 34-30 lead with under five minutes to play.
Ohio hurt themselves once again on kickoff coverage on the next play as a squib kick resulted in an Andrew Johnson kick return across midfield to the Ohio 41. Pennsylvania could not not get closer on the drive though as a holding penalty knocked them back, and the ball was eventually turned back over to Ohio on downs with 3:17 on the clock.
There was definitely a scary moment on the fourth down stop as after defending the final pass, defensive back Brandon Underwood fell to the ground in pain. Underwood left the field under his own power but appeared to be holding his arm as he walked off.
Ohio was able to convert on a third down on the following drive on a Hoyer-to-Haw pass, and Haw helped run the clock out from there to seal the 34-30 win.
"We had our opportunities," said Pennsylvania head coach George Chaump after the game. "We were down inside four times and came up empty... They did what they had to do to win. When you turn a bad play into a good play and a good athlete does it, they usually win the football game."
With the win, Ohio evens the renewed series record at 6-6 and cuts the all-time series record to 9-8. The victory is Ohio's second in a row after Pennsylvania had previously won three straight.
- Not surprisingly, future Buckeyes were making plays all over the place in this game. In addition to Ginn, Devon Lyons had a fine game for Pennsylvania and looks like he could very well be in the receiver mix early for the Buckeyes. Rory Nicol also caught a couple of passes for Pennsylvania. Erik Haw showed he can be a pass catching threat, and Alex Barrow was disruptive on defense. Brandon Underwood made some fine plays late in the game (the status of his injury was not known at the time of this article), and Chad Hoobler was also in the thick of several plays.
- Curtis Brinkley was named player of the game for Pennsylvania.
- Ohio rotated quarterbacks on every possession. Pennsylvania rotated less frequently, but on their final possession, Henne was inserted for Morelli on second down.
- If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the game, ABC 27 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is offering copies for $33. Information can be found at http://www.abc27.com/news/stories/0704/161261.html