Young players got their spotlight moments Saturday afternoon inside Ohio Stadium as Ohio State finished its 2008 spring practice schedule with a 20-7 Scarlet victory.
An announced crowd of 76,346 fans braved rainy conditions to watch previously unheralded Buckeyes such as Dan Herron, Taurian Washington and Joe Bauserman showcase their talents.
It was a pair of veterans that led the Scarlet offense, however, as quarterback Todd Boeckman and receiver Brian Hartline connected six times for 82 yards, accounting for nearly one-third of their team's total yardage. Boeckman finished the day with 12 completions in 18 attempts for 145 yards, no touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.
Another veteran, receiver Ray Small, fought off some nagging injuries and tallied five catches for 74 yards for the Scarlet team.
Meanwhile, Herron, Washington and Bauserman were making standout plays and may have earned themselves more playing time in the fall.
Herron finished the afternoon as the game's leading rusher for the Scarlet with 30 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Washington collected four receptions for 71 yards and a touchdown and had another touchdown reception – this one for 62 yards – wiped out by a holding penalty. Bauserman exhibited a strong arm and completed 7 of 14 throws for 125 yards and a score.
"We got some young guys out there today and got them some opportunities in front of their family and friends," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said. "I think it was a good, positive day. We had a good, positive 15 days of concentration from our guys. The next three months are going to be crucial as these guys decide how good they want to be. But I thought it was a good spring."
Boeckman threw a deep interception on the Scarlet's first possession of the game but came back later in the first quarter to connect with Hartline for a 48-yard gain. That came after the Scarlet defense stopped Gray tailback Brandon Saine for no gain on a fourth-and-3 play.
Two plays after the Hartline reception, Boeckman took the ball on a 1-yard sneak for a touchdown. Aaron Pettrey added the extra point for a 7-0 Scarlet lead at the 1:37 mark of the first period.
Boeckman was intercepted again on the Scarlet's next possession and that led to Gray's lone score. Bauserman entered the game and completed his first three pass attempts – each of them to Washington. The first was a modest 6-yarder followed by an 8-yard gain and topped off with a 51-yard touchdown bomb. Ryan Pretorius added the extra point to tie the score at 7 with 2:49 left until halftime.
Boeckman was able to move the Scarlet team down the field in final minutes of the half, connecting with Ray Small twice and freshman Jake Stoneburner for a 19-yard gain to set up a 48-yard field goal from Pettrey as time ran out.
In the second half, Antonio Henton switched his Gray jersey to Scarlet and engineered a short 30-yard scoring drive. The big play came on a 30-yard pass to Small on a third-and-13 play. Three plays later, Herron bolted over left guard for a 1-yard touchdown. Pettrey added the PAT, giving Scarlet a 17-7 lead with 23 seconds left in the third period.
Henton was much better for the Scarlet. He was 5 for 7 for 62 yards in the second half after going only 1 for 5 for 11 yards in the first half for the Gray.
The scoring culminated with 41 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Walk-on kicker Mike Mattimore knocked through a 24-yard field to account for the final 20-7 score.
Cornerback Andre Amos led all tacklers in the game with eight total stops for the Gray. Marcus Freeman was next with seven while defensive back Nick Patterson and freshman linebacker Etienne Sabino added five each. Veteran middle linebacker Austin Spitler led the Scarlet with five stops. Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa and linebacker James Laurinaitis had four apiece.
OSU defensive coordinator Jim Heacock has wanted a more consistent push up front from his linemen and had to be pleased with their production during the game. Defensive tackle Dexter Larimore had a pair of sacks for the Scarlet squad while fellow interior linemen Nader Abdallah and Todd Denlinger each had one. The other sacks in the game belonged to Gray linebacker Tyler Moeller and defensive end Lawrence Wilson, seeing his first "game" competition since breaking his leg in last season's opener against Youngstown State.
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