Northwestern stuns Buckeyes

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 3, 2004

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) - Noah Herron scored on a 2-yard run in overtime and had two other touchdowns, and Northwestern backed up its pregame trash talk with a 33-27 upset victory over No. 7 Ohio State on Saturday night.

The victory was Northwestern's first over Ohio State (3-1) since 1971, snapping the Buckeyes' 24-game winning streak in the series and handing them their first loss in Evanston since 1958. After Herron broke through the Buckeyes at the goal line, his teammates piled on him in the corner of the end zone and Northwestern students ran onto the field, turning it into a purple mosh pit.

Ohio State rallied to score 10 points in the final nine minutes to force overtime, but kicker Mike Nugent, who bailed the Buckeyes out in two games earlier this season, failed. His 40-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide right on the first overtime possession.

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After squandering an earlier chance to win, the Wildcats (2-3) made sure to put the game away. On the second play, quarterback Brett Basanez scrambled to the left and up the sideline for a 21-yard gain.

Two plays later, Herron bulldozed his way into the end zone for the winning score, setting off pandemonium at the stadium.

Herron ran for 113 yards and caught two passes for 12 yards. Mark Philmore had 134 yards receiving and a touchdown, the first of his career. Brett Basanez was 24-of-44 for 278 yards.

Ohio State's offense had another shaky night. Justin Zwick was 18-of-38 for 211 yards. Santonio Holmes had 99 yards receiving and a score.

Ohio State had been shaky in its earlier games, needing Nugent's field goal as time expired to beat Marshall, and Northwestern defensive tackle Luis Castillo had set bulletin boards aflame all over Columbus earlier in the week when he said Ohio State had a ''mediocre'' offense. And receiver Mark Philmore - an Ohio native - said the Buckeyes were ''kids just like you out there.''

The Wildcats showed they can do more than yap, though, controlling the game from the first series. They outgained the Buckeyes 444-308, and the defense came up with big plays time and again in the final quarter.

Zwick had gotten Ohio State to the Northwestern 4 midway through the fourth. But on third-and-goal, Nick Roach and John Pickens swarmed Zwick, taking him down for a 7-yard loss and forcing Ohio State to settle for Nugent's 29-yard field goal. The Buckeyes' defense gave Zwick another chance when linebacker Bobby Carpenter picked off Basanez's pass at the Northwestern 28 and returned it 6 yards.

Zwick connected with Bam Childress on a 15-yard pass, putting Ohio State at the Northwestern 4. But Antonio Pittman was stopped for a 3-yard loss, and Pickens chased Zwick deep into the backfield, sacking him for a 13-yard loss on second down.

Jeff Backes then picked off what would have been the game-tying pass, intercepting Zwick in the end zone.

But the Buckeyes finally got it right on their third try. Moving 69 yards in just five plays and 90 seconds, Zwick rushed for 18 yards, then had completions of 11 yards and 19 yards before finding Holmes deep in the end zone for the 21-yard score to force overtime.