Even from 35 yards out because of an excessive celebration penalty, Pettrey – who grabbed the kicking job in 2006 on the strength of a strong kick scrimmage and went 8-11 on field goals on the year – was money. He boomed the point after through the south uprights to send his teammates roaring off the bench in a 37-36 win for the Scarlet team.
Pettrey said the winner was not quite as pressure-packed as it would have been if he were kicking one to win a game in November, but it was still an important one to make.
“Half the team has to walk home and the other ones get to ride the bus,” he said. “There’s more pressure than people think. People all through the day were telling me they don’t want to walk.”
Not even the 15-yard penalty could daunt the Raceland, Ky., native.
“I think Coach just likes to throw flags just to add a little more pressure,” he said with a smile. “I got it real good.”
While seeing Pettrey nail a 35-yarder might not have been surprising, the play before it certainly was eye-opening. With the ball at the 43-yard line, Trapasso lined up to punt but instead pulled up on a fake and lofted a perfect spiral to Nicol. It just snuck through two defenders and the tight end snatched it at around the 15 and dashed untouched to the end zone to tie the score.
“I haven’t thrown a ball like that in a while,” Trapasso said. “That was fun. We scripted that about 10 seconds before we went out there.”
The pass looked so good that some joked the junior punter might soon find himself in the quarterback battle with Todd Boeckman, Robby Schoenhoft and Antonio Henton, which drew a smile from Trapasso.
“Nah,” he said. “I’ll leave that up to those guys, but that was fun.”
The play countered a touchdown scored moments before by the Gray team. Trapasso had to punt from the end line with his team pinned at the 1-yard line, and Devon Lyons broke through to block the kick. Dionte Johnson fell on the ball for the Gray to break a 30-30 tie and make the score 36-30.
The ensuing extra point was faked, with holder Jon Thoma, the backup punter, unable to convert after taking the snap.
“That’s what happens, eh?” said Gray kicker Ryan Pretorius, who said coach Luke Fickell called for the ill-fated fake.
The scrimmage was close throughout, with a number of big plays sure to bring a smile to the face of head coach Jim Tressel but enough mistakes to keep the coach from being too excited.
Two of Trapasso’s punts from deep in his own end zone were blocked, but the first bounded out of bounds at the 27. It canceled out a play earlier in the game in which Trapasso ran left on a fake punt and picked up 25 yards to set up a Pettrey field goal.
On the day, Pretorius finished 8 for 11 from the field with a long of 50, while Pettrey was 8 for 12 with a long of 48. Two of Pettrey’s misses were blocked – one by Vernon Gholston and one by Doug Worthington – and another came on a bad snap. Pettrey also lined up to take a 63-yarder, which he said was at the edge of his range, but the team attempted a fake instead.
“I thought both of them were pretty solid,” Tressel said. “I thought Ryan didn’t start out as well as he’s been kicking and then Aaron had a little shaky time there and then shook it off, which was good. He had a couple protection blows and he didn’t let that blow him up.”
Tressel also said that if the season started tomorrow, Pettrey would be the No. 1 kicker but Pretorius would probably see some time. Walk-on kickers Andrew Good (25 and 34 yards), Devin Barclay (25) and Michael Mattimoe (33 yards) made all of their kicks as well.
“Every single specialist kicked well today, even the three guys – Mattimoe, Good and Barclay – who don’t often get the opportunity to kick,” Pretorius said.
The NCAA recently moved the kickoff spot back to the 30-yard line, and as a result, there were no touchbacks. Receiving the lion’s share of the kickoffs were Malcolm Jenkins and Maurice Wells for the Gray and Albert Dukes and Ray Small for the Scarlet. Jenkins, Small and Brian Robiskie (Gray) returned punts.
Jenkins struggled and had a number of muffs and one fumble that the Scarlet recovered to set up a Pettrey field goal, while Small was probably most impressive, including one 22-yard punt return in which he made a number of players miss.
Trapasso, who had the day’s long punt at 58 yards, booted the ball well aside from the blocks and Thoma showed a quick release on his punts, although distance at time left something to be desired.
The only injury to occur was a right leg injury to walk-on tailback/receiver Cedric Turner, who was helped off the field and did not return.