Buckeyes hold off Kansas State for Fiesta victory

Ohio State jumped out to a big lead and held off a Kansas State comeback to take home a 35-28 victory in the 2004 Fiesta Bowl. <B>Note: After the game, Chris Gamble stated that he would apply for the NFL draft.</B>

Ohio State came out fired up and jumped all over Kansas State early but had to hold off the Wildcats late in the game to pick up a 35-28 Fiesta Bowl win. Craig Krenzel went 11 of 24 for 189 yards passing and four TDs with two INTs, while Michael Jenkins had 5 catches for 96 yards and two TDs. KSU QB Ell Roberson had 293 yards on 20 of 53 passing with zero TDs and one INT and was inconsistent all evening.

The Buckeyes got things off on the right foot in the first half. Kansas State began the game with a three-and-out, but the Buckeyes gave the ball right back as Craig Krenzel underthrew Michael Jenkins on a third down play and was picked off by Kansas State's Cedrick Williams. KSU sputtered again on offense though and had to punt back to the Buckeyes.

The punt was poor, giving OSU solid field position, but another three-and-out for the Buckeyes gave the ball back to KSU. The Wildcats took over on their own 18 and moved backwards after two negative Darren Sproles runs and an incomplete pass, and the failure to move the ball hurt them as their punt was blocked by Harlen Jacobs and recovered by John Hollins for an OSU touchdown. The Mike Nugent PAT made it 7-0 in favor of Ohio State.

Kansas State was getting pushed around by OSU's defense and could get nothing going offensively. After an illegal block negated a solid runback by Sproles on the kickoff, the Wildcats took over on their own 6-yard line and went three-and-out. OSU took over in great field position at the KSU 43, and after two unproductive plays, Craig Krenzel hit Bam Childress on a short pass that was taken for a 35-yard gain inside the KSU 10. On the following third-and-goal play, Krenzel hit Santonio Holmes for a 6-yard TD strike. The Nugent PAT sent it to 14-0.

The Wildcats continued to get shut down on offense as they went three-and-out on the following possession. Roberson was struggling to find consistency as he threw two more incompletions for KSU, and OSU took over at the KSU 46 after a punt.

The Buckeyes moved down the field again and looked poised to score after Lydell Ross took a misdirection pitch for 21 yards down deep inside KSU territory, but on the following play (the first play of the second quarter), Krenzel went for Jenkins in the end zone, and the pass was deflected and picked off once again by Cedrick Williams.

KSU took over on the 20, and the possession resulted in their first 1st down of the game, but they once again had to punt back to Ohio State. Ohio State moved the ball for a few plays on the next drive, but they could not get to scoring position and had to punt back to the Wildcats.

Lightning then struck quickly as after B.J. Sander pinned KSU at their own 5-yard line, Roberson was picked off by Chris Gamble on the first play of the possession, giving OSU the ball back at the KSU 17-yard line. On the next play, Krenzel immediately hit Michael Jenkins for a 17-yard strike to send the Buckeye lead to 21-0.

KSU was on the ropes, but they were able to answer on the next drive as Roberson and the Wildcats drove downfield and scored on a 6-yard run from Darren Sproles. On the drive, K-State faced a 3rd and 19, but Roberson hit Antoine Polite for a 31-yard gain to keep the drive alive.

Neither team was able to score again before the half, and the Buckeyes took a 21-7 lead into the half. The quarterbacks for both teams did not have particularly good first halves as Roberson (unofficially) was 5-for-20 for 60 yards and 1 INT and Krenzel was 7-for-15 for 94 yards and 2 TDs with 2 INTs. KSU had just 87 yards on the half, and Darren Sproles was held to 26 yards on 9 carries. Lydell Ross had 63 yards on 15 carries for OSU.

The second half consisted mostly of Kansas State trying to play from behind. OSU went three-and-out on the opening possession of the half, and Kansas State proceeded to march down the field (with the help of a Nate Salley pass interference on third and long) on eleven plays and cut the lead to 21-14 on a 14-yard Roberson TD. The Buckeyes answered on the following drive though as Michael Jenkins took over and caught passes for 19 and 37 yards and capped off the drive with a 7-yard TD catch to send the lead to 28-14.

After a Kansas State three-and-out, OSU took over and expanded the lead. Behind some tough Branden Joe running (Ross seemed to be a bit banged up in the second half), the Buckeyes moved down the field and moved up 35-14 on a Krenzel to Santonio Holmes 31-yard TD pass.

Kansas State struck back quickly as they took over at the OSU 46 after a good runback and scored in 9 plays on a 3-yard run by fullback Ayo Saba to cut it to 35-21 with just over 13 minutes left in the fourth quarter. OSU was forced to punt back to KSU after a few plays on the next possession, and the Wildcats began to quickly move the ball downfield again. KSU seemed poised to go in again, but a personal foul penalty pushed them back, causing them to settle for a 45-yard FG attempt by Joe Rheem, which hit the upright and fell no good.

OSU took over but did not move the ball much as they went three and out and had to punt. Kansas State started the following drive at their own 26 and moved downfield quickly yet again, eventually setting up a first and goal at the 1-yard line. OSU kept a couple of KSU rushing attempts out of the end zone, causing some time to tick off the clock, but Roberson eventually capped the drive with a 1-yard run.

Ohio State recovered an onside kick with just over two minutes left and attempted to run out the clock, but on a third down play, Lydell Ross ran out of bounds to stop the clock with over a minute left. The Buckeye punt pinned KSU back at their own 9-yard line, and the Wildcats quickly moved out to midfield, but time would run out as one last heave to the end zone fell short.

The Buckeyes move to 11-2 on the year, while Kansas State falls to 11-4. Ohio State has won the last two Fiesta Bowls and moves to 3-1 in the game and now moves to 3-0 in BCS games. Kansas State wound up out-gaining the Buckeyes, but Ohio State held the vaunted KSU rushing attack to just over 80 yards and held the nation's leading rusher Darren Sproles to 38 yards, preventing him from surpassing the 2,000 mark for the year (he needed 52 yards to reach 2,000). 

Craig Krenzel was the MVP in the game once again. A.J. Hawk was named defensive MVP for the Buckeyes.

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