Miami Edged By Ohio State, 27-16

Updated 9/16/2000

By RUSTY MILLER
AP Sports Writer

Ohio State defensive back Nate Clemens and Miami's Terrell Jones, fight for a loose ball.
(AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)(Sept. 16) - Jonathan Wells ran for two touchdowns - including a clinching score after a costly Miami penalty in the fourth quarter - as No. 17 Ohio State struggled but held off the RedHawks 27-16 on Sept. 16.

Derek Combs rushed for 142 yards on 21 carries for the Buckeyes (3-0), with Wells adding 113 yards on 17 attempts.

But Miami (2-1), seeking the Mid-American Conference's fourth upset of a Big Ten team this season, wouldn't go away.

Quarterback Mike Bath rushed for 105 yards on 11 carries and completed 21-of-48 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns.

The RedHawks, however, failed on several key opportunities including three passes that could have gone for touchdowns or big gainers in the first half alone. Andy Brumbergs missed an extra-point and also shanked a short field goal.

Ohio State's defense sealed the victory with interceptions that ended three of Miami's final four possessions.

Still, the RedHawks trailed just 20-16 as Ohio State's Dan Stultz lined up for a 20-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter. Stultz converted the field goal, but was roughed on the play and the Buckeyes were given a first down inside the Miami 2.

Two plays later, Wells skirted right end for the touchdown, turning what would have been a one-touchdown deficit into a 27-16 upper hand for the Buckeyes.

Mike Bath rushed for 105 yards and threw for another 236 yards against Ohio State. (AP Photo/Terry Gilliam)

The meeting was the first between the schools in football since 1911.

The teams were tied at 10 at the half, with a record crowd of 96,721 at enlarged Ohio Stadium booing the Buckeyes as they left the field.

Miami outplayed the Buckeyes in every stat but points.

On the first play of their third possession, Bath faked a short pass and then threw deep for Sly Johnson, who had a 5-yard advantage on Ohio State cornerback Nate Clements. But Bath's pass floated in the air, allowing Clements to get back in time to break up the pass and prevent a 90-yard touchdown.

On their next possession, on first down from their own 20, Bath again looked to Johnson who was all alone along the right sideline. This time, Johnson stepped out of bounds before catching the ball, eliminating what would have been at least a 40-yard gain.

Johnson was again wide open the next time Miami got the ball and this time Bath threw too wide on what would have been a 43-yard TD.

Later in that same series, however, Johnson curled around Clements at the left sideline and pulled in a Bath fade pass for a 26-yard score and a 10-3 lead.

Ohio State needed only four plays to pull even, with Steve Bellisari tossing a pass to Chad Cacchio in the right flat and Cacchio spinning away from Michael Adams for the 35-yard touchdown. It was the fourth catch this year for Cacchio, a former walk-on - and his third touchdown.

Just two plays before that, Bellisari had thrown a floater of his own - right to cornerback DeMarrio Jones. But Jones dropped the ball, adding to Miami's frustration.

Stultz's 28-yard field goal early in the third quarter put Ohio State ahead to stay. After a Miami punt, the Buckeyes covered 58 yards in just five plays - Wells going the last 19 untouched up the middle - for a 20-10 lead.

But Bath's 23-yard lob pass to Ty Buxton on the fade pattern down the left sideline cut the lead to four points. After Brumbergs missed the extra-point, a short Ohio State punt gave the RedHawks the ball at the Buckeye 42.

Bath rumbled for 40 yards on a scramble, but the RedHawks lost six yards on their next three plays. Brumbergs came in, but was wide left on the 21-yard field-goal attempt.

Clements, Derek Ross and David Mitchell intercepted passes in the fourth quarter to make the lead stand up.

Bellisari struggled all day, completing 13-of-30 passes for 194 yards and rushing nine times for 4 yards. Ken-Yon Rambo had six catches for 100 yards.

Miami had won 13 of its last 16 road games.