Ohio State fans destroy property

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 25, 2002

COLUMBUS -- Crowds celebrating Ohio State's victory over Michigan set fires and damaged cars early Sunday in areas south and east of campus, at one point burning a pile of about nine cars, police said.

Police spokeswoman Sherry Mercurio said about 45 arrests were made, mostly for carrying open containers of alcohol, with some for rioting, resisting arrest and open burning. No injuries were immediately reported.

A paper plate was taped over a hole in a window of the apartment of Mark Stevenson, where the 21-year-old student from Youngstown said someone had thrown a bottle through the glass.

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''Everyone pretty much expected this; everyone was drinking for like 12 hours,'' Stevenson, who was at the game and brought home a piece of the sod as a souvenir, said Sunday morning while standing on his porch.

Celebrations started shortly after 3 p.m. Saturday, when the Buckeyes defeated Michigan 14-9 to complete an unbeaten regular season and clinch a spot in the national championship game Jan. 3 at the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.

Police said crowds were peaceful for several hours, but began getting more rowdy after midnight. At 12:45 a.m., officers used tear gas and wooden pellets known as ''knee-knockers'' to disperse a crowd of several hundred east of campus.

''I'd like to say most of these people are not our students, but unfortunately they are our students,'' Bill Hall, university vice president for student affairs, said as police were clearing crowds.

Several cars were set on fire and at one point, nine cars were piled together and burning, Mercurio said. She said there also were reports of people having cars pelted with debris as they drove through the area.

A male kicked in the glass door of a bookstore at one of the busiest corners in the area, but police stopped anyone from entering the store.

By Sunday morning, the burned cars were gone and the store's glass had been replaced.

Disturbances continued in portions of a 10-block area for several hours.

''Once we'd get one street under control, the crowds would move to one or two others and things would break out again,'' Mercurio said.

Officers started leaving shortly after 4 a.m., Mercurio said.

Mercurio criticized those involved in the disturbances for ruining what should have been a festive occasion.

''Your team has gone 13-0 and you should be darn proud of that fact,'' she said. ''Instead, you take attention away from that and bring the spotlight on the fact that you can't control yourself if your team wins.''