It wasn't the kind of football Jim Tressel wanted to see, but it was entertaining none the less.
Saturday afternoon at the Horseshoe, the annual Scarlet and Gray spring game went off in front of a record crowd 75,301. The game featured lovely weather and not so lovely execution.
A usual perfectionist Tressel didn't exactly see the kind of execution he might have been looking for Saturday from his quarterbacks. The derby for starting quarterback in the season opener this September against Youngstown State hardly produced a leader after Saturday's action.
Gray starter Antonio Henton, a redshirt freshman, was part of both some of the highlights and many of the lowlights on the afternoon. Henton finished 8-of-16 for 45 yards, the only quarterback with at least a 50 percent completion rate. However, Henton was also sacked twice and threw three interceptions.
Henton gave the Scarlet its first points of the day very early in the game. With 8:45 in the first quarter, Henton gift-wrapped an interception to linebacker Marcus Freeman who ran untouched 40 yards to the endzone. The extra point was blocked and the Scarlet had a 6-0 lead.
The Scarlet remained on the offensive early in the second quarter when Ryan Pretorious extended the lead to 9-0. The Gray countered with a 42-yard kickoff return by Ray Small and Henton led the Gray to a couple of first downs before the drive stalled and they were forced to punt.
After trading several possessions, Henton nearly cost the Gray another score before halftime. With 1:19 left in the second quarter, Henton threw an errant pass right to freshman safety Grant Schwartz. Schwartz ran down the sideline for 42 yards to the Gray 16-yard line, setting up the Scarlet with great field position. However, Rob Schoenhoft fumbled on a sack by linebacker Larry Grant and Gray regained possession.
Trading quarterbacks for the second half, the Gray had a golden opportunity late in the third quarter. Schoenhoft, now leading the Gray, hit Devon Lyons for 39 yards to the 6-yard line after a fake punt by A.J. Trapasso was run to the Scarlet 46-yard line on 4th down.
However, after a pair of runs by Maurice Wells netted just two yards to the four, Schoenhoft threw a pair of incompletions, turning the ball over on downs.
The Scarlet left the door open.
After a first down out to the 16, Henton wound up making his third interception - this one for the Scarlet. A pass was batted at the line of scrimmage and intercepted by Alex Barrow at the 23-yard line. The Gray capitalized on 4th down with a 40-yard field goal by Aaron Pettrey. It was 9-3 Scarlet with just 9:49 left in a 10-minute shortened fourth quarter.
The Gray struck again less than five minutes later.
On a 2nd-and-goal from the Scarlet 6-yard line, Schoenhoft hit tight end Brandon Smith for a touchdown pass with just 5:24 left. Pettrey hit the extra point and the Gray had a first lead, 10-9.
Boeckman made a game of it on the ensuing possession. Hoping to lead the Scarlet to late-game heroics. Boeckman hit a key third down pass to Kyle Ruhl for 17 yards. After an 11-yard scamper by Joe Gantz and three consecutive runs, Boeckman hit Casey Christian for 28 yards on 4th-and-1 from the 39 yard line.
However, on first down with 1:46 left, the Scarlet picked up a critical motion penalty pushing them back to the 16-yard line. Gantz rushed for 2 yards on 1st-and-15, but the game was sealed with 46 seconds left when Boeckman fumbled dropping back for a pass. Once again, Gant was the man that delivered the hit then scooped the ball up and ran it back 84 yards for the game-clinching touchdown. The big play gave the Gray a 17-9 victory.
Schoenhoft finished 7-of-15 unofficially between the two teams. He finished with 84 yards and the lone touchdown pass on the day by signal callers. Scarlet starter Boeckman finished 6-of-14 with a game-high 103 yards passing.
Wells was the leading rusher on the day. He finished unofficially with 14 carries for 47 yards. Henton had eight carries for 12 yards. Schoenhoft also added six rushes for 23 yards between his two teams.
The receiving star on the afternoon was easily Devon Lyons. The junior wide receiver had three receptions for a game-high 72 yards. Albert Dukes also had a good showing with three receptions for 22 yards.