Defense Finally Reclaims Scarlet Jerseys

The defense will wear the scarlet jerseys for the rest of spring practice and to start preseason camp, but only after holding off a late offensive charge in Ohio State's annual spring jersey scrimmage at Ohio Stadium.

The defense won 56-55 after leading 34-7 early using a scoring system that awards points in several categories for each side, including first downs, sacks and defensive stops.

The offense bounced back, however, and had a chance to force a decisive final play by tying the scrimmage on its last possession.

Terrelle Pryor drove the No. 1 offense 62 yards in six plays against the No. 1 defense on the last series of the day, but after a 5-yard touchdown run by Dan "Boom" Herron brought the offense within one point, Aaron Pettrey's 35-yard point-after-try sailed wide left, causing the defense to spill out onto the field, yelling in jubilation while reveling in the unit's first jersey scrimmage victory since spring 2007.

Pryor completed 2 of 3 passes for 40 yards and had a 16-yard scramble to set up Herron's touchdown run, but the quarterback also committed a miscue after the scoring play when he drew a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"Those guys on defense did a good job the whole scrimmage chirping and you didn't really have a chance to chirp back for about two hours, and then you got your first chance to chirp back and you're guilty, so they did a good job setting him up," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel explained afterward. "That will be a good lesson."

Pettrey, who earlier made a 56-yard field goal, was understandably sullen afterward, but the senior kept things in perspective.

"I've been having a good spring and I just got too much ground and left it out right," he said. "You miss some, you make some."

He had no complaints about the added distance.

"There really isn't a lesson. You should make everything inside 40, at least for me. There's nothing about the penalty. If I hit the same ball I hit on an extra point, it's good."

That Pryor's legs put his team into position to win the game was a story in itself because that much was not possible for most of the scrimmage.

Both he and second-string quarterback Joe Bauserman wore black jerseys – signifying they were not to be tackled – to begin the morning at Ohio Stadium, and neither fared well as the offensive line had trouble controlling the pass rush.

Best taking advantage of the leaky pass protection and rules calling for the quarterbacks to be down upon being touched was Solomon Thomas, a sophomore defensive end who had an eye-opening seven sacks.

Overall, the defense finished with 13 stops of the quarterback in the backfield with three solos going to Doug Worthington, one each to Kurt Coleman and Cameron Heyward and another split by Austin Spitler and Worthington.

Thomas said the defensive line anticipated being able to get pressure.

"I feel like if you don't get sacks, you're not doing your job," he said.

When the quarterbacks were allowed to trade their black, noncontact jerseys for scarlet, the action tilted in favor of the offense. Only two of the sacks came after that point – Heyward's and one by Thomas.

The defense held a 40-24 advantage, having allowed just two scoring drives when the switch occurred.

After Pryor and Bauserman went live, the offense scored two touchdowns and a pair of field goals.

In unofficial stats, Pryor finished with 8 completions for 72 yards on 13 attempts. He did not throw a touchdown pass and was guilty of a crucial interception when he tried to force the ball to Lamaar Thomas at the goal line after a scramble. Devon Torrence stepped in front of the pass to snuff out the scoring threat.

Bauserman was 11 for 24 for 117 yards. He threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Schuck and had a long toss down the sideline intercepted by Andre Amos.

While the offensive line's pass protection left something to be desired, the group was able to consistently open holes for the Buckeye running backs.

Looking a lot like the player who won Ohio's Mr. Football award as a senior at Piqua High School in 2006 but not the one who has been injured for most of his first two years in Columbus, Brandon Saine ran 16 times for a game-high 79 yards, and Herron added 45 yards on 12 carries.

Walk-ons Marcus Williams (13 carries for 47 yards), Joe Gantz (13 for 43) and Bo DeLande (10 for 21) were able to find room to run, too.

Walk-on Ricky Crawford was the high gainer in terms of receiving yards, grabbing four passes for 40 yards. Taurian Washington had five catches for 26 yards. Thomas caught three passes for 28 yards while Grant Schwartz, Schuck, Ray Small, James Georgiades and DeVier Posey all caught two passes apiece. Jake Stoneburner, Saine, DeLande, Jake Ballard and James Jackson all had solitary catches.

Solomon Thomas was the leading tackler on the day with 12 total stops while Spitler added 11 and Tyler Moeller had 11.

The Buckeyes have another week of spring practice before the annual spring game to be held April 25 at Ohio Stadium.

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