Redshirt freshman quarterback Kenny Guiton hooked up with senior receiver Taurian Washington on a 45-yard touchdown pass with 55 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter as the Gray pulled out a 17-14 victory Saturday afternoon over the Scarlet in Ohio State’s annual spring game.
The play capped off a wild fourth quarter that began in a 7-7 tie. The Gray took advantage of a 47-yard field goal from freshman Drew Basil to take a 10-7 advantage at the 10:31 mark before junior walk-on tailback Bo DeLande scored on a 4-yard touchdown run with 4:48 remaining to give the Scarlet a 14-10 lead.
That set up a final drive for the Gray that began at its own 11-yard line as Guiton directed an 11-play, 89-yard march for the winning score. Guiton lofted a pass down the sideline that went just over the outstretched hand of a leaping Scarlet defender and into the waiting hands of Washington.
The Scarlet made a last-ditch effort to wrest the game back, getting an excellent kickoff return from senior Devon Torrence and an ensuing 15-yard penalty against the Gray to set up shop at the 47-yard line. But on the next play junior quarterback Joe Bauserman’s pass intended for receiver James Jackson was picked off in the end zone by Gray defender Taylor Rice with only 38 seconds left.
“It turned out to be a great day and we didn’t get anyone hurt – that’s goal No. 1,” OSU head coach Jim Tressel said immediately after the game. “I think everyone – the players, the coaches and the fans – had fun, and that’s goal two. And we had guys getting experience and reps. … We weren’t sure our depth had progressed as much as we wanted it do. You need to have a deep team to have a chance at the championship.”
Overcast skies and the threat of thunderstorms kept some fans away, preventing a repeat of last year’s NCAA record spring game attendance in excess of 95,000. Still, the announced crowd of 65,223 witnessed an entertaining game that saw the two teams combine for 158 total yards in the first quarter and score a touchdown apiece.
The Guiton-to-Washington combination worked first on a 28-yard pass at the 6:56 mark of the first quarter to give the Gray an early 7-0 lead. But the Scarlet answered less than two minutes later when junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor connected with senior receiver Dane Sanzenbacher for a 12-yard touchdown to tie things at 7 with 5:10 left in the opening period.
That was the way it stayed until the explosive fourth quarter. Following Basil’s field goal, Bauserman directed an 11-play, 70-yard drive for the Scarlet that was capped by three straight runs by DeLande. The third was a 4-yard dash around left end for a touchdown that pushed the Gray back into a 14-10 lead with 4:48 to play.
The Scarlet had a chance to put things away when junior walk-on Spencer Smith recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff. Bauserman quickly moved his team into scoring position on a 43-yard pass play to redshirt freshman James Jackson. But on the next play, Bauserman was intercepted in the end zone by Gray defensive back Nate Oliver with 3:06 remaining to end the scoring threat.
Oliver brought the interception back out to the 11-yard line and that is where Guiton began what turned out to be the winning drive. With only 55 seconds left, the redshirt freshman QB saw Washington breaking free to his left and lofted the ball down the sideline. Scarlet defender Nate Ebner leaped to try and deflect the pass, but the football got just over his reach and Washington gathered it in to complete the 45-yard scoring play.
The Scarlet had two more scoring attempts in the final seconds. The first ended with Rice’s interception in the end zone and the second fizzled when senior kicker Devin Barclay’s 56-yard field goal attempt on the game’s final play was short and to the left.
Despite being on the wrong end of the scoreboard, the Scarlet managed to outgain the Gray by a 272-239 margin. Much of the combined yardage came through the air with the teams combining for 368 yards passing.
Pryor played only the first quarter and completed 8 of 12 pass attempts for 108 yards and a touchdown. Following the game, Tressel confirmed that his plan was to limit his starting quarterback’s snaps as well as what he could do while he was on the field.
“He knew he wasn’t going to play much,” the coach said, “but I thought he did well with the hand we dealt to him. He knew he couldn’t do much live on the run part of it but he did what he could do and I thought he did a pretty fair job.”
Bauserman was 6 for 15 for 75 yards and two interceptions in relief of Pryor.
Meanwhile, Guiton completed 11 of 21 attempts for 167 yards and two touchdowns. His backup, redshirt freshman walk-on Justin Siems, was 4 for 10 for 18 yards and an interception.
Sophomore fullback Zach Boren was the Gray’s leading receiver with four catches for 44 yards while Washington had three receptions for 83 yards and two scores. For the Scarlet squad, Sanzenbacher had four catches for 61 yards and a touchdown while sophomore tight end Jake Stoneburner grabbed three balls for 43 yards.
With all of the passing in the game, the running attack was almost an afterthought for both teams. Bauserman led all rushers with 35 yards on five carries for the Scarlet while Dan “Boom” Herron led the Gray with 32 yards on only four totes.
The leading tacklers in the game were a pair of linebackers – junior Etienne Sabino for the Gray with seven and redshirt freshman Dorian Bell for the Scarlet with five. The Scarlet also recorded four sacks in the game, including 1½ by redshirt freshman Adam Bellamy.