Hall's Blocked Punt Key In OSU Victory

Redshirt freshman Roy Hall found a way to contribute Saturday, blocking a third-quarter Iowa punt for a touchdown in the team's 19-10 win.

The Cleveland connection of Roy Hall and Donte Whitner hooked up for what turned out to be a huge touchdown in Ohio State's 19-10 win over Iowa Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

With OSU nursing a 10-3 lead midway through the third quarter, Iowa's David Bradley was lined up to punt from his own goal line. But Hall, a redshirt freshman wide receiver from Lyndhurst Brush, broke through the middle of the formation almost untouched and smothered the punt.

The ball bounced backwards into the end zone, where Whitner, a freshman defensive back from Cleveland Glenville, pounced on the ball for the touchdown.

"(Assistant) Mark Snyder is our Ranger team coach," said OSU coach Jim Tressel. "He gives us what he thinks will work. He gives us a look every week of a rush and a return. Actually, this week he gave us two. That was one of the two and the kids executed it very well."

For Hall, it was a chance to take center stage. He only has three catches to his credit this year, working as a backup. But there has likely not been a larger play made by a Buckeye this season than his block that helped stake OSU to a 17-3 lead with 7:54 left in the third quarter.

"You just do what you've got to do," Hall said of coming through despite being a backup player for the most part. "You've got to contribute where you can contribute. We've got great receivers. I'm on almost every special team. I try to help out and do everything I can do. Hopefully, this will give me momentum going into next year.

"You block it, you get the touchdown and it changes the whole game."

Hall discussed the play, which he termed as his first punt return ever in his football career.

"It just opened up," Hall said. "Sometimes, we say if a hole opens up, you need to drive a Mack truck through it. I knew if I didn't block it, there would be some problems. Our coaches talk about expecting to be the one who blocks the punt."

Hall came from just right of the center.

"It was kind of funny because on the first couple returns, the guard to my side was kicking out really fast like in a zone (block scheme) and the center wasn't whipping back," Hall said. "I thought then we might be able to use our block to get get it. I wasn't sure if I would be the one to get it. They've got the fullback back there blocking also.

"I was surprised I got there so fast because I came through there almost free. Usually the fullback there is the last line of defense and when he didn't come my way, it's time to go to work," said Hall, who had the kick glance off his legs and midsection.

"I just hit the ball and kept going. I couldn't find the ball. When I saw that Nate (Salley) or Donte had scored the touchdown, I was pretty happy."

Whitner, scoring his first touchdown as a Buckeye, was not available for a touchdown. But Salley said he was all too happy to let his teammate have it.

"I saw Roy blocked it," Salley said. "It bounced back almost off Ashton Youboty's back and was there in the end zone. I got a hand on it, but Donte got two hands on it. Hey, a touchdown is a touchdown. I didn't want to fight him for it."

On a day when OSU's Michael Jenkins also returned a punt 54 yards for a score and Mike Nugent booted a career-long 53-yard field goal, the special teams came up big for the Buckeyes.

"Usually, the first thing Coach Tressel talks about is special teams," Hall said. "Whenever you can have superior special teams, you have a chance to be good. Today that was the case as we had a big punt return and a punt blocked for a touchdown."


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