Buckeyes Get Their Kicks

Mike Nugent nails a 58-yard field goal, but one his field goals was blocked and returned in overtime to give the Scarlet team a 46-40 win in the special teams scrimmage Wednesday.

What is it about Ohio State and overtimes?

The Buckeyes, who went OT in two of their final three games in 2002, had to go to a field goal kicking contest to decide Wednesday's special teams scrimmage at Ohio Stadium.

And, despite nailing an impressive 58-yard field goal earlier in the contest, All-American kicker Mike Nugent watched as one of his kicks in the overtime session was blocked by Tim Anderson and returned by Santonio Holmes for the deciding touchdown in the Scarlet team's 46-40 win.

The stakes were high as members of the losing Gray squad had to walk the three-quarters of a mile back to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in the 90 degree heat.

"We worked a lot on fundamentals and we have trained hard," said OSU coach Jim Tressel. "Today, the kids banged into each other and we had some good competiton. We were trying to put our kickers and punters under some pressure.

"We scored 86 points without our offense today, so I think that shows the importance of special teams."

Nugent ended the day 12 of 17 on field goals with three of them blocked. The scrimmage was ultimately tied at 34-34. It took six overtime "innings," where he and Josh Huston, who was 7 of 13, alternated kicks before Anderson's block and Holmes' return -- his second of the day for a score off a block -- ended it.

"To come down to the end and have it in a game situation like that I think really will help me," Nugent said. "That's the closest thing you will get to an actual game outside of today."

Players on both sides and the few observers inside the cavernous stadium applauded as Nugent's 58-yard attempt just cleared the crossbar.

"I do have confidence in myself," Nugent said. "I think it showed right there. They asked if I thought I could make it and I said, `I think I've got it in me.' When we went out for the field goal, I thought I could make it. I want them to know I can make every one."

Nugent wasn't the only star of the scrimmage. Safety Dustin Fox made two leaping field goal blocks and also retrieved a fumbled punt snap by Huston and returned it for a touchdown.

"It was good to get out there in a gamelike situation and we were going after the punts and the field goals," Fox said.

Senior B.J. Sander is in firm command of the punting job. His first attempt was blocked for a touchdown by Drew Carter. But on the rest he averaged 48.6 yards on seven attempts.

"I felt I hit the ball pretty well," Sander said. "Coming out of the end zone, I hit it great. But I need to work on my pooch punts."

The speedy Carter came off the left edge and easily smothered Sander's first punt. Teammate Bam Childress fell on it for the touchdown in the end zone to give the Gray an early 7-3 lead.

"(Carter) got there real fast," Sander said. "I got the ball off in 1.67 seconds, which is about what you shoot for. But he was there before I was even ready to kick the ball."

Sander rebounded by drilling a 68-yard punt on his next attempt.

"I was real fired up after they blocked the first one," he said.

The Scarlet surged ahead 21-13 when Fox blocked a Nugent kick and linebacker Jason Bond recovered it. Bond, just as he was tackled, lateraled it to Holmes, who returned it the last 40 yards for a touchdown.

Huston's dropped snap and Fox's TD return gave the Scarlet a 28-19 lead.

The Gray moved ahead 31-28 on four straight Nugent field goals. But walk-on Brian Pierce, who was 3 of 4 on kicks, and Huston made back to back kicks to put the Scarlet up 34-31.

Nugent's 58-yarder then tied the game at 34-34. Once the entire script had been played out, Tressel ordered the special "kick-off" to determine the winner.

Nugent and Huston were each good from 42 yards and 47 yards during the extra sessions before Anderson's block that sealed the outcome.

In order, Nugent's kicks were: 35 (good), 35 (good), 38 (blocked), 38 (good), 38 (good), 30 (good), 30 (good), 21 (good), 35 (good), 58 (good), 47 (no good), 42 (good), 47 (no good), 47 (blocked), 47 (good), 50 (no good), 45 (blocked for deciding TD).

In addition to his two touchdowns, Holmes averaged 21 yards on four punt returns, including a 45-yarder. Regular punt returner Chris Gamble was held out of the scrimmage due to injury.


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