- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 11, 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Texas finally took a serious scalp.

Despite an underwhelming performance, maligned coach Mack Brown saw his Longhorns finish with a flourish to steal a 25-22 victory from Ohio State.

Trailing 22-16 with 5:00 remaining, No.2 Texas drove 67 yards in six plays for a go-ahead touchdown and then added a safety to stun the fourth-ranked Buckeyes and snap a seven-game skid against top-10 teams.

The largest crowd in the history of Ohio Stadium was left in silence when time ran out on the Buckeyes. For virtually the entire night, the 105,565 fans in attendance had watched their beloved Buckeyes (1-1) dictate the action by dominating the vaunted Texas offensive line and continually flustering Heisman hopeful quarterback Vince Young.

For three quarters and 10 minutes, the game belonged to Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk and the swarming Ohio State defense. Hawk, who spent all night spying Young, finished the game with 10 tackles, two sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. And Young undoubtedly will see the Ohio State senior bearing down on him in his dreams for days to come.

But after mustering just two field goals and a handful of first downs against the Buckeyes after the first quarter, something inside Young and the Longhorns (2-0) must have clicked into place when the clock ticked to the desperate five-minute mark with their title hopes about to vanish into the Columbus night.

Following a wide-right miss of a 50-yard field goal by Ohio State’s Josh Huston that would have sealed the game, Texas took over at its 33 with a sudden sense of resolve. A pass interference call moved it to the 48, and Young took over from there. The 6-foot-5, 237-pound junior from Houston scrambled into Ohio State territory as the clock ticked under four minutes.

Twice on the final drive he completed 9-yard passes to running back Jamaal Charles to keep drives alive. He shook off a brutal hit on the sideline from Ohio State linebacker Bobby Carpenter, who earlier in the week had promised he would leave Columbus with his Heisman hopes in tatters.

And after steering the Longhorns to the Ohio State 24, he found wideout Limas Sweed between two defenders in the corner of the end zone with 2:37 remaining to give kicker David Pino the chance to consummate the win with an extra point. Sweed outfought corner Ashton Youboty and safety Nate Salley for the winning score, making an acrobatic catch that was ruled a touchdown on the field and confirmed after replay review.

The Buckeyes, who likely lost the game because they had to settle for five field goals in the red zone, then squandered their chance to mount a last-minute drive of their own when quarterback Justin Zwick fumbled while scrambling for the sticks on the second play of Ohio State’s ensuing possession. Texas didn’t manage to convert the fumble into points, stalling on fourth down at the Ohio State 1-yard line. But backup Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith was sacked in the end zone for a safety to ice the game on the first play after the Buckeyes took possession.

The first half was a stunning case study in momentum shifts. Young and the Longhorns looked virtually unstoppable on their first two offensive possessions, cruising to a 10-0 lead when the Heisman hopeful flipped a 5-yard touchdown pass to Billy Pittman on a quick slant with 1:37 remaining in the first quarter.

On those two drives, Young completed six of 10 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown and added 56 rushing yards on just five carries, looking every bit the nation’s most bronze-worthy stallion.

But just when it seemed Young and the Longhorns would turn the Horseshoe into the world’s largest publicity stage, Ohio State erupted behind Smith. Coming off a two-game NCAA suspension for accepting $500 from a Buckeyes booster, Smith didn’t start the game. But after watching Zwick struggle while Young carried Texas up and down the field, Ohio State skipper Jim Tressel turned the offense over to Smith on the Buckeyes’ third possession of the game.

Smith converted a series of short fields into four unanswered scores for the Buckeyes, while the Longhorns suddenly devolved into a sequence of startling miscues to leave Ohio State leading 16-13 at the break.

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