Buckeyes Raze 'Canes

Times Staff Writer

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Ohio State thought it won the national title, then Miami did, then no one could say for sure. Then, yes, it was true ... Ohio State wins.

Did the officials know?

How come that flag was tossed in the end zone? How come Miami first ran on the field and fireworks went off while the Ohio State quarterback lay in dejection on the ground?

Has there ever been a Fiesta Bowl like this? A national title like this? Anything like this? No, no, and no.

Friday's national title game, played out spectacularly and dramatically before a crowd of 77,505 at Sun Devil Stadium, was one for the ages -- is it really, really over? -- and captured in the end by Ohio State, 31-24, in double overtime.

Ohio State, in the proudest of dig-in traditions, stopped Miami four times inside the two-yard line to preserve victory in the second overtime.

"That's what the national championship game should look like -- double overtime," Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel said.

Ohio State scored the eventual game-winning touchdown on its possession in the second overtime, tailback Maurice Clarett scoring on a five-yard scamper.

Then Miami had its chance on offense to tie the score, and appeared on its way to doing so after a pass-interference call gave the Hurricanes a first-and-goal at the two.

But the Buckeyes buckled down.

With Miami facing fourth down from the one, Buckeye linebacker Cie Grant shot in from the left side and forced Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey into a wobbly incompletion.

In that moment, Ohio State won its first national title since 1968, Miami's 34-game winning streak was history and the rest of us were left to sift through the weird and wonderful rubble.

When it was over for good, Ohio State players rushed the field as Miami players stood stunned.

How could it end like this?

The game wasn't supposed to be close. Miami was favored by 13 points, but three Hurricane turnovers led to 17 Ohio State points and kept the Buckeyes in the game for four quarters -- and longer.

"It just wasn't meant to be tonight," Larry Coker said after suffering his first loss as the Hurricanes' head coach.

Ohio State capped a perfect season at 14-0, with Miami at 12-1.

Everyone said Miami would be too fast for Ohio State, but the Buckeyes kept saying this wasn't a track meet.

"Out on the field, it's a game of football speed, and we feel we can play with any team in the country," safety Michael Doss said.

Still, it figured Ohio State would need some help to win, and the Buckeyes got it in the form of five turnovers.

Dorsey, trying to end his career with a 39-1 record, threw two interceptions and also fumbled.

The Dorsey turnovers, all in the second quarter, kept hope alive for Ohio State after Miami took a 7-0 first-quarter lead on a 25-yard scoring pass from Dorsey to Roscoe Parrish.

Miami fell behind, 17-7, in the third quarter but fought back to get in position to win a second consecutive title, even after star tailback Willis McGahee was knocked out with a knee injury.

Miami cut the deficit to three on a nine-yard scoring run at the end of the third quarter and appeared to have a chance to win the game in regulation when Dorsey complete a 29-yard pass to Roscoe Parrish.

But Dustin Fox jarred the ball loose from Parrish and Will Allen recovered.

Miami got the ball back, though, and Parrish redeemed himself with a 50-yard punt return that gave the Hurricanes a first down at the Ohio State 26 with 2:02 left, setting up Sievers' tying field goal at the end of regulation.

Ohio State called two timeouts in its attempt to freeze Sievers, but his 40-yarder was true.

The Hurricanes struck first in overtime on a seven-yard Dorsey-to-Kellen Winslow pass, Winslow making a beautiful grab over the defensive back Allen.

Then, it was Ohio State's turn on offense, and the situation soon turned bleak when the Buckeyes went backward and were staring at fourth and 14 at the 29.

If Ohio State doesn't make the first, the game's over, yet Craig Krenzel kept the drive alive with a 17-yard sideline pass to Michael Jenkins.

Then, another fourth-down play, this one from the Miami five, and a play that will be talked about for years.

Krenzel threw what appeared to be an incomplete pass in the end zone, with Glenn Sharpe playing tight defense on receiver Chris Gamble.

Miami players stormed the field, thinking they'd won the title, but then came a late flag.

Krenzel got hit on the play, and the only thing he saw was Miami players rushing the field. He thought Ohio State had lost.

"It was a feeling of dejection, thinking the game was over," said Krenzel, who completed seven of 21 passes for 122 yards. "I thought there was contact, but I didn't see the flag until after I got up. I think it was the right call."

Said field judge Terry Porter: "I saw the guy holding prior to the ball being put in the air. He was still holding him, pulling him down while the ball was in the air. I gave the signal for holding. Then I realized it should be pass interference because the ball was in the air."

Asked why the call was so late, Porter said, "I replayed it in my mind. I wanted to make double sure it was the right call."

After the reprieve, Krenzel tied the game at 24-all on a one-yard run.

Ohio State got the ball first in the second overtime, and scored the go-ahead touchdown on Clarett's run, then came through with maybe the biggest defensive stand in Ohio State history.

"That's how you win championships," Tressel said. "You keep playing and make plays."

It was Ohio State's fifth wire service national title, but its first championship since the Woody Hayes-led team of 1968.

Krenzel emerged the unlikely hero, making clutch passes and burning the Hurricanes all night on runs. He led all rushers in the game with 81 yards.

"Krenzel did for us what we needed done," Tressel said. "He led the team, he fought like crazy, made plays when they had to be made. Craig Krenzel is tough."

For Miami, the streak died here. The Hurricanes had not lost a football game since September of 2000. There had been plenty of close calls along the way, but Miami always found a way to win.

The Hurricanes couldn't find a way Friday.

It was hard to give the streak up.

"They didn't stop us, we beat ourselves," Winslow said.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

By the

Numbers

34

Years since Ohio State won its last

national

football championship (in 1968 season) and winning streak that ended for Miami -- the sixth longest in major college football.

14

Consecutive victories for Ohio State, the longest active streak in Division I-A.

81

Yards rushing in 19 carries by Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel, the game's leading rusher.

114

Combined yards rushing in 43 carries by two of the nation's top

running backs, Ohio State's Maurice Clarett (47) and Miami's Willis

McGahee (67).

2-1

Ohio State leads all-time series with

Miami.

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