Buckeyes pull away from Troy

Published 1:23 am Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Associated Press

Terrelle Pryor has done this before, just not in college.

‘‘I’ve been making plays all my life,’’ Pryor said. ‘‘I’m not cocky. I’m just glad I can help out our seniors and get a win.’’

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The acclaimed freshman, who hasn’t even started classes yet, took charge of Ohio State’s offense with four touchdown passes to lead the sluggish No. 13 Buckeyes to a 28-10 victory over Troy on Saturday.

In the wake of an ugly 35-3 defeat at top-ranked Southern California, coach Jim Tressel had said that the nation’s top quarterback recruit last spring and senior Todd Boeckman would split the job 50-50 against Troy (2-1).

Instead, Pryor was first true freshman to start for the Buckeyes in 30 years, since Art Schlichter in 1978 and he ran the show for all but two plays before the game was out of reach.

‘‘Coming off the loss to USC, I think we took a half-a-step forward,’’ Pryor said.

Pryor’s touchdown passes covered 39 and 16 yards to Brian Hartline, 13 yards to Rory Nicol and 38 yards to Brian Robiskie. The 6-foot-6 standout from Jeannette, Pa., who won’t attend his first college class until next week, completed 10 of 16 passes for 139 yards with one interception. He also ran 14 times for 66 yards.

Boeckman, fifth-year senior, only played two snaps and the smallest crowd in Ohio Stadium in six years loudly booed him after an incompletion on one of those.

That prompted defensive lineman Lawrence Wilson to say: ‘‘Hey, we’re just kids. We’re not professionals. There’s no way that adults should treat us that way.’’

Even though Pryor had a successful debut as a starter, the Buckeyes (3-1) led just 14-10 at the start of the fourth quarter, at which point Troy had more first downs and total yards.

‘‘After they scored at the end of the first half to bring it to a four-point game, I thought our guys did a great job of rising up,’’ Tressel said. He added, ‘‘Offensively, we’ve got a ways to go but we did some good things, had some new guys in there who hadn’t been in there all that much before, so it was a very valuable game.’’

Ohio State turned two punts from the Troy end zone in the fourth quarter into short touchdown drives that ended with Pryor TD passes.

‘‘Pryor really makes them different totally,’’ Trojans coach Larry Blakeney said.

Still, the Buckeyes struggled for much of the day, even with Pryor’s big day and with Dan Herron rushing for 94 yards on 20 carries in relief of the injured Chris Wells. The Buckeyes also gave substantial playing time to several young offensive linemen.

‘‘Going into the fourth quarter, we had them right where we wanted them,’’ Troy safety Tavares Williams said. ‘‘I think they knew it too. It just didn’t work out how we planned it.’’

Ohio State’s first nine possessions ended with two Pryor TD passes, six punts and an interception on Pryor’s heave to end the half.

The offense couldn’t add to the lead until Troy started losing the field-position battle in the final quarter.

‘‘My comfort level is about 7 or 8 out of 10 right now,’’ Pryor said. ‘‘You saw some bad (thrown) balls along with the four touchdowns I threw. I have so much to learn.’’

Boeckman, one of four team captains, showed up for postgame interviews.

Asked if it was a difficult day for him, he said: ‘‘I’m happy for Terrelle. He had a great day. He did some great things out there. He’s getting better every time he’s out there and he made some great plays. I’m excited for this team and for him.’’

Then he left through a side door.