Winning touchdown pass #039;dream come true#039; for McMullen

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Scott McMullen came to Ohio State with dreams of playing in the big games and throwing the winning touchdown pass in a place like Beaver Stadium.

On Saturday, McMullen's dream came true.

The seventh-ranked Buckeyes (8-1, 4-1 Big Ten) trailed 17-7 when starter Craig Krenzel left the game after a hard hit from Penn State linebacker Deryck Toles late in the second quarter. But McMullen completed 12 of 17 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Buckeyes back for a 21-20 victory on Saturday.

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''I'm kind of at loss for words,'' McMullen said. ''To come into a place like Happy Valley, and this being a dogfight to the very end like that, and to pull it out - this feels great.''

The Ohio State offense didn't skip a beat with McMullen in the game. They continued to mix the run and pass, with Lydell Ross gaining 110 yards on 24 carries, his second-consecutive 100-yard game.

On the Buckeyes final drive, McMullen found four receivers in throwing 7-for-7 for 54 yards, including the 5-yard pass to Michael Jenkins in the corner of the end zone that gave Ohio State the win.

''They both go hard, and Scott's going to find the open man just like Craig does,'' Jenkins said. ''I think he did a good job of that tonight.''

He also did a good job running the ball, gaining 19 yards on three carries in that final drive, which included a mix of designed draws and frantic scrambles.

''I think the ABC person, on the way back out to the field, asked what we would have to limit with Scott, and (I said) 'Nothing.' Scott knows everything we're doing,'' Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said. ''Scott took us to two wins earlier in the year.

''We don't really change anything we do when he's in the game. He knows who to read and he knows when he looks out there what's good matchups and who's blitzing and if he's going to have a chance to hold the ball a little bit longer - are they bringing too many for us to handle or are they not. Scott knows everything that Craig does.''

What's more, McMullen did it in the style to which the Buckeyes have grown accustomed - eking out a win only after a driving Ohio State fans to nail-biting distraction.

His first touchdown pass, a 4-yarder, also to Jenkins, came on the first possession of the second half and brought the Buckeyes within 17-14. After that, Ohio State managed just one first down on its next three possessions, while Penn State (2-7, 0-5) extended its lead to 20-14 on David Kimball's 48-yard field goal.

But with the game on the line, McMullen marched his team down the field for the win.

''I was in there looking around the huddle, and a lot of guys were confident. We were really sure we were going to come down and pull this one out,'' McMullen said. ''I think a lot of guys were relaxed there at the end.''

Tressel wouldn't describe Krenzel's injury, and said he didn't know when his starter would be able to return.

''We'll let that be Tuesday's drama,'' Tressel said.

And after the game, McMullen gave credit where it was due: It was Krenzel's call to throw the fade-jump to Jenkins in the corner, McMullen said.

''I've been watching Craig all last year leading the team back to victory, and I just took some pointers from him,'' McMullen said. ''I just wanted to do it myself.''