Buckeyes Put Pigskin in End Zone
Ohio State’s only scheduled visit to Southern California this season turned out to be delightful for the Buckeyes on Monday night in Anaheim Stadium.
Ohio State had just about everything its way in a 34-10 victory over Fresno State in the Disneyland Pigskin Classic, overwhelming a team rebuilding following the loss of 11 players to the NFL.
The revamped Fresno State offense, with untested sophomore Adrian Claiborne at quarterback, was inconsistent, and the defense was no match for the Ohio State offense elevated by Joey Galloway, a wide receiver with an All-American look.
The Buckeyes did nothing here to tarnish their image as a defending Big Ten co-champion and the nation’s 20th ranked team in The Associated Press preseason poll.
The night wasn’t as enjoyable for the promoters of the Pigskin Classic as it was for Ohio State. The crowd of 28,513 was the smallest in the event’s five-year history and may have sounded the death knell for the game.
Disney’s five-year, $5-million contract to sponsor the game expired with Monday’s game. An official with Orange County Sports Assn., which runs the game, said the Disney company has told the organization it won’t renew the contract.
The only disappointing aspect of the game for Ohio State Coach John Cooper was the 53 yards in penalties, but that seemed like a small blemish in a game in which the Buckeyes gained 388 yards, an average of more than six yards a play, and held Fresno State to 89 yards on the ground.
“Their offense played extremely well,” Fresno State Coach Jim Sweeney said. “I didn’t think they’d run the ball that well against us.”
Galloway was the catalyst. The Big Ten leader in receiving last season scored twice, once on 67-yard pass from quarterback Bobby Hoying and again on an eight-yard run after taking a pitchout.
“Joey makes the plays,” Cooper said. “That’s why he’s a Heisman Trophy candidate.”
Galloway put aside talk about honors so early in the season, however. “I just have to give it everything I’ve got all season and hopefully we’ll be back out here in January,” he said.
Running back Eddie George also had a solid performance with 90 yards in 24 carries, and Hoying completed 10 of 16 passes for 194 yards. For Fresno State, Claiborne completed 12 of 22 for 139 yards and one touchdown. Michael Pittman’s 82 yards led Fresno State in rushing.
Ohio State threatened to break the game open in the first half with three early touchdowns.
The Buckeyes took the opening kickoff and used a bulldozer ground game for the first touchdown after Hoying got the drive rolling with a 28-yard pass to flanker Buster Tillman. George carried seven consecutive times for 36 yards down the stretch, going over from a yard out 5:16 into the game. Josh Jackson kicked the extra point.
Claiborne, making his first start at quarterback as Trent Dilfer’s successor, gave up an interception in the Bulldogs’ second possession, setting up Ohio State’s second scoring surge. Free safety Tim Patillo grabbed Claiborne’s third pass of the game on the Buckeye 33.
This time the Buckeyes wasted no time with grind-it-out offense. Hoying and Galloway teamed up on the 67-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the series. It was the longest scoring pass in the five-year history of the event.
Ohio State blended timely passing with solid running for its third touchdown. Hoying hit Tillman for 12 yards and Galloway for 21 in a 10-play, 58-yard burst capped by George’s one-yard run.
Fresno State averted a first-half shutout with a touchdown of its own with 4:52 left in the second quarter.
Claiborne brought the Bulldogs to life with a series of completions. Two quick hitters to Pittman were the key, the last for four yards and the score. Johan Lyssand’s extra point kick made it 21-7.
Both teams traded field goals in the third quarter, but the Buckeyes showed their muscle again before the quarter ended with a 51-yard, seven-play surge capped by a sparkling run by Galloway. With second down on the Fresno 8, Galloway took a pitch from his wide-out spot. The left side closed, but Galloway reversed back right and went in for the touchdown. The kick by Jackson made it 31-10.
Ohio State’s final score came with 8:43 remaining in the final quarter on Jackson’s 33-yard field goal. He also hit one from 24 yards out earlier.
“I think the best team won,” Cooper said, “but I think we still have a lot of things we have to improve on before we play Washington in our next game. We can’t pass up some of the chances we had to score defensively, the way we did in this game, and can’t have three 15-yard penalties when we start playing in our league.”