Pettrey's Winner Ends Solid Kicking Day

After the Ohio State football team suffered through inconsistent special teams play the past two seasons, head coach Jim Tressel had to be pleased with what he saw from multiple units in Friday's spring kick scrimmage. His field-goal kickers did well, highlighted by senior starter Aaron Pettrey's game-winning 34-yarder in Ohio Stadium on Friday.

After more than 50 plays, the spring kick scrimmage came down to the leg of Aaron Pettrey.

As if to destroy any concerns about whether he's ready to resume the kicking role he first earned as a redshirt freshman in 2006, Pettrey was cool as a cucumber as he booted a 34-yard field goal through the uprights on the final play to give his Scarlet team a 30-27 win in Ohio Stadium on Friday afternoon.

"I always know when it's the last one," the senior said. "I just tried to hit it high and put it down the middle. I didn't feel too much pressure because it was a shorter one. Just hit it high."

The kick ended a back-and-forth day that showed a much more consistent place-kicking unit than the past few kick scrimmages.

All of the kickers who took part could hang their hats on a solid performance. Pettrey finished 10 of 13, missing a 53-yarder wide right and then having consecutive kicks of 42 and 37 yards blocked by Cameron Heyward and Anderson Russell, respectively. His long kick went through from 57 yards and gave his team an early lead.

Highly touted redshirt freshman Ben Buchanan of the Gray team was solid as well, going 4 of 5, missing just a 34-yarder that was blocked by Brian Rolle and making a long kick of 40.

And finally, Gray walk-on Devin Barclay was on his game, making his first five kicks before having a late 53-yarder blocked by Orhian Johnson.

"It was encouraging to see it from all three guys who took field goals," said assistant coach Chad Rogosheske, who works with the OSU special teams. "You're not always sure what you're going to get protection-wise. I think we had a couple of blocks but it was a pretty clean placekicking day today, and that was encouraging."

When it came to punting, senior starter Jon Thoma had seven kicks and averaged 41.4 yards per try, booming 51- and 49-yarders with the ball snapped from his own 1-yard line. He was on the Scarlet team along with starting kicker Pettrey.

Buchanan, who also kicked off, averaged 36.6 yards on nine tries for the Gray team with one blocked by Bo DeLande. He also had a fake punt try picked off.

"It was a lot of fun kicking, punting and kicking off," he said. "That's what I enjoy. That's what I did in high school. It was fun today."

Ray Small and James Jackson did returns for the Gray team, Small bringing back a kickoff he fumbled 47 yards to midfield before it was called back for a holding penalty. On the Scarlet side, Devon Torrence survived a big collision to return the opening kickoff 38 yards and DeVier Posey set up the game-winning Pettrey kick with an impressive 27-yard punt return down the left sideline.

The kick scrimmage starts with a kickoff, after which every play is fourth down. Teams try to win field position through punts, returns and fakes. Periods of field goals, five per team at a time, are interspersed, and the game ends with a series of punts from the 1-yard line, after which the receiving team is allowed to try to advance the ball down the field.

That's exactly how the final series unfolded. The teams had escaped the final field goal period tied at 27 when a Thoma punt gave the Gray team the ball at Scarlet 46. A fake punt that resulted in Joe Bauserman, who lined up on the left gunner position before taking a pitch from Buchanan, completing a 10-yard pass to Etienne Sabino allowed Gray's Barclay to try a 53-yard try, but it was blocked by Johnson.

The next punt by Buchanan, who said he is working with the second unit on both placements and punts, allowed Posey to rip off his long return, and Pettrey wasted no time driving the kick through the uprights.

"It just builds confidence with me, hopefully with my teammates too," Pettrey said. "If I have one this season hopefully I'll go out there and make it just like today."

Pettrey had a chance to give the Scarlet team a 3-0 lead just four plays into the event thanks to Torrence's impressive opening return, but the kick went wide right.

He had a chance to atone, however, when Jermale Hines ran a fake punt 14 yards for a first down after taking a pitch from Rolle. From the left hash, Pettrey drilled a 57-yarder that served as the first points of the contest.

Later trickeration didn't work as well. Buchanan's pass attempt was way off and intercepted with ease by Andre Amos. Another punt fake later that included Rolle faking the pitch to Hines didn't work when the linebacker from Florida was dropped for a loss.

As a result, the teams had to settle for field goals, which on this day were the currency by which the kick scrimmage was decided.

"If you were to ask Coach (Jim) Tressel about how things went today, this is probably the best kick scrimmage in terms of the way we battled and our consistency, our get-offs," Barclay said. "I think it was really good."

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