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Ohio State Finds A Way To Win In Beating Toledo 27-22

 Two games and two wins for Luke Fickell as Ohio State head coach, but the second one didn't come nearly as easily as the first.

Ohio State dominated Akron last week in Fickell's debut, but the 15th-ranked Buckeyes needed a late defensive stand to squeeze out a 27-22 win over Toledo on Saturday at the Horseshoe.

The Buckeyes were driving for a game-clinching score with a five-point lead and the ball deep inside Toledo territory with just over three minutes left. Rod Smith then fumbled and the Rockets recovered at their own 28, setting up one final chance for Toledo to pull the upset.

A screen pass from Terrance Owens to Adonis Thomas put Toledo near midfield and the Rockets soon after converted 4th-and-14 with a pass from Owens to Eric Page. Owens and Page then hooked up for 11 yards on 3rd-and-3, but the Rockets were faced with another fourth down at the Ohio State 16 with 52 seconds to play and Owens threw incomplete while being pressured to essentially end the contest.

"It was an ugly game, but we made plays when we had to," said Ohio State linebacker Andrew Sweat. "Today we had to dig down deep and have toughness. These are the types of games you see what type of player you are and learn from."

Carlos Hyde ran for 76 yards and two scores for Ohio State (2-0), which will head out on the road next week for a matchup with Miami-Florida. Joe Bauserman threw for 189 yards with a score for the Buckeyes, who still haven't lost to a school from the state of Ohio since a 7-6 setback to Oberlin in 1921.

Page had a monster day for the Rockets (1-1), who were coming off a 58-22 win over FCS opponent New Hampshire to open their season. Page caught 12 passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns, while also throwing for a two-point conversion in defeat.

Thomas added six catches for 111 yards and ran for 47 yards with a touchdown for Toledo. The Rockets employed a pair of quarterbacks, as Owens threw for 137 yards with a touchdown and an interception and starter Austin Dantin connected on 14-of-26 throws for 155 yards with a score.

"We come here, and our goal is to win," said Toledo head coach Tim Beckman, a former Ohio State assistant. "That's what we came to do. We came to win the football game. Be there in the fourth quarter, and give yourself the chance to win the football game. We did not succeed in that; we did not achieve what we wanted to achieve today."

Toledo had never scored in two previous meetings with Ohio State, falling 49-0 in 1998 and 38-0 in 2009, but the Rockets scored 15 points in the first quarter of this one and were a minute away from taking a lead to halftime.

A penalty negated a Toledo punt that was downed at the Ohio State 17 and Chris Fields returned the ensuing boot 69 yards for a touchdown with 46 seconds left in the half to give the Buckeyes a 21-15 lead.

The mistake didn't deter the Rockets in the second half, as a 44-yard pass from Dantin to Thomas on the first play after the kickoff set up a first down at the Ohio State 13. Toledo regained the lead a short time later when Thomas banged into the end zone four yards away on fourth down.

Ohio State went three-and-out on its opening possession of the third quarter and Toledo marched across midfield before setting up for a 51-yard field goal try. The snap was mishandled the Buckeyes took over at their own 45.

Bauserman made the good field position pay off, directing a seven-play drive that was highlighted by a 36-yard connection with Devin Smith and capped by a two-yard scoring run by Hyde for a 27-22 lead with 3:17 left in the period after the two-point try failed.

The Ohio State defense stiffened from there and didn't allow Toledo to cross midfield again until the final series.

"It's tough," Page noted. "We put a lot of effort into the game and things were going our way. We just need to eliminate the mistakes."

Ohio State took the opening kickoff and marched 67 yards in seven plays for a touchdown. Bauserman completed each of his three passes during the quick series, capping it with a 26-yard touchdown strike to Jake Stoneburner.

Toledo missed a field goal try on its first possession, then forced Ohio State into a three-and-out and blocked the ensuing punt. Morgan Williams scooped up the ball after the block and raced to the Ohio State one-yard line.

After a false start penalty, Page caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Dantin and followed by throwing to Hank Keighley in the end zone for a surprise two- point conversion and an 8-7 Toledo lead.

Drew Basil missed a 47-yard field goal attempt on Ohio State's next series and the Rockets extended their lead shortly after when Page caught a hitch pass from Owens, broke a tackle and sprinted 66 yards into the end zone to silence the home crowd. Toledo again lined up for a two-point conversion, but fell back into kicking formation and booted it through for a 15-7 advantage with 2:18 left in the opening quarter.

A series of punts left the Buckeyes with great field position at the Toledo 42 just over five minutes into the second period and they cashed in soon after when Hyde broke through the line and rumbled 36 yards for his first career touchdown to make it a one-point game.  

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.