Cooper’s Message to Fans Is Loud and Clear: Get Into the Game
After his team had hung on for a 28-20 victory over Arizona on Saturday, Ohio State Coach John Cooper expressed his disappointment with everything related to the Buckeye programs. And that included the 91,152 scarlet-and-gray rooters at Ohio Stadium.
“I think the whole stadium was pathetic,” Cooper said after the ninth-ranked Buckeyes almost frittered away a 28-0 lead. “The coaches, the players--and the fans. They sat there on their butts. One time our players had to get them excited when we’re on defense and it’s short yardage.
“Talk to Arizona now about how tough it is to come in here and play.”
Things looked good for the Buckeyes after linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer picked off a shovel pass and returned it 20 yards to give Ohio State 14 points in 14 seconds of the second quarter.
Arizona (1-2), which beat Alabama Birmingham, 24-10, the previous Saturday, scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to make it interesting.
“It’s not really as loud as it should be,” Cooper said of the crowd. “It was 21-0 and 28-0 and you’d think it was still a 0-0 tie.”
Ohio State, 3-0 for the seventh year in a row, had to recover an onside kick and pick up a first down on a third-down running play with 1:30 left to secure the victory.
Arizona outgained the Buckeyes, 380-292, and held them to 70 yards rushing, 152 under their average and their lowest total in four years. Ohio State lost three fumbles and an interception one week after losing four first-half fumbles in a 44-13 victory over Bowling Green.
Ohio State took control with a three-touchdown burst helped by Arizona mistakes.
“It came down to turnovers and big plays,” Wildcat quarterback Keith Smith said. “They made the big plays and we didn’t put a full game together.”
Ryan Springston bobbled an Arizona punt snap and was tackled at his 34 for a one-yard loss. Seven plays later, Stanley Jackson found David Boston over the middle for a six-yard touchdown.
“Our kicking game has been dreadful,” Arizona Coach Dick Tomey said. “Things that should be routine aren’t.”
After Dan Stultz kicked the extra point and his kickoff was downed in the end zone, Smith attempted a shovel pass to Kelvin Eafon. Katzenmoyer stepped in front of the fullback and went untouched the 20 yards to give the Buckeyes 14 points in 14 seconds.
Late in the half, Pepe Pearson--who led the Buckeyes with 39 yards rushing--capped a nine-play drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Joe Germaine, who splits time with Jackson, hit all three of his passes for 52 yards to set up the score.
The Buckeyes went ahead, 28-0, when Jackson went 24 yards on a quarterback draw.
Arizona had the upper hand in first downs (19-14), time of possession (33:07 to 26:53) and rushing yardage (170-70).
Ohio State didn’t have the upper hand in disappointment, either.
“I like our fight, but that’s about it,” Tomey said. “We came here expecting to win.”
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