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Sept. 28, 1996
Buckeyes Defeat Irish, 29-16
Pepe Pearson ran for 173 yards and two touchdowns and Stanley Jackson passed for two scores as fourth-ranked Ohio State made its first visit to South Bend in 60 years a memorable one with a 29-16 victory over fifth-ranked Notre Dame.
The Buckeyes (3-0) proved that lopsided wins over Rice and Pittsburgh were no fluke, rolling to a 22-7 halftime lead and holding at least a double-digit lead the entire second half. Ohio State has scored 171 points in its first three games.
The win evened the all-time series at 2-2, including a 45-26 triumph by Ohio State in Columbus last year. The Buckeyes had not played at Notre Dame since a 7-2 loss in 1936.
“I told our squad that this is a great victory for Ohio State, the players, and the fans,” said Buckeye coach John Cooper, who has sometimes been criticized for an inability to win big games. “Not many teams can come in here and win against this great Notre Dame football team.”
Pearson carried 20 times for 104 yards and Ohio State outgained the Irish, 283-93, in the first half and 391-280 overall.
“Both teams wanted a physical matchup. We overpowered them,” said star tackle Orlando Pace of Ohio State. “Our offensive line really came together.”
Notre Dame, which won a thrilling game over Texas last week, was dealt a serious blow to its national championship hopes in its first loss in four games.
Ohio State struck quickly when Dimitrious Stanley returned the opening kickoff 85 yards to the Fighting Irish 14. The tackle was made by Allen Rossum, who had returned the opening kickoff for a score two weeks ago against Purdue. Pearson capitalized with a three-yard touchdown run, but the extra point was blocked.
Notre Dame took its only lead on a two-yard touchdown pass from Ron Powlus to fullback Marc Edwards with 6:05 left in the quarter. Linebacker Kinnon Tatum intercepted a tipped pass by Jackson at the Buckeyes 15 to set up the score.
Ohio State responded with a two-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to fullback Matt Calhoun with 3:37 left in the opening period. Jackson connected on passes of 14 yards to Dee Miller and 25 yards to John Lumpkin to put the Buckeyes deep in Notre Dame territory.
Jackson was 9-of-15 for 154 yards with one interception.
Nose guard Luke Fickell picked off Powlus and Ohio State moved downfield in a drive that stalled before Josh Jackson kicked a 24-yard field goal with 3:52 remaining in the half.
Ohio State continued to wear down the Irish defense. Pearson had a 23-yard run, lined up as a wideout and caught a 26-yard slant pass and then ran into the end zone from one yard out with 54 seconds left in the half. Pearson has eight touchdowns in three games.
“We’ve had a lot of great backs at Ohio State. He is one of them,” Cooper assured.
Notre Dame cut the deficit to 12 points early in the third quarter when Powlus connected on a 34-yard pass to Emmett Mosley that led to a 26-yard field goal by Jim Sanson.
Powlus was 13-of-30 passes for 154 yards and was picked off twice.
An aggressive defense played a role in Ohio State’s fourth touchdown. Greg Bellisari sacked Powlus inside the 5, setting up a punt that gave the Buckeyes a first down at the Irish 34. Jackson followed with a 13-yard touchdown pass to tight end D.J. Jones with 1:46 left in the third quarter that gave the Buckeyes a 29-10 lead.
Edwards scored his second touchdown of the game on a nine-yard run midway through the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 29-16. It was again the result of a turnover, this time a fumble by Pearson near midfield that was recovered by Ivory Covington. Coach Lou Holtz curiosly decided to kick for the extra point, but it was blocked.
The two touchdowns were no consolation to Edwards.
“We embarrassed ourselves out there today in the first half,” he said. “The offense couldn’t move the ball and we left the defense in some bad situations.”
Another special teams mistake prevented the Irish from moving within a touchdown. Autry Denson returned a punt 88 yards for an apparent score with 3:35 remaining, but the TD was nullified by a holding penalty on Ty Goode.
Denson, who ran for 158 yards against Texas, was held to 55 yards on 19 carries.
“We didn’t tackle great and they made some great catches and great plays,” Holtz said. “They have a nice offense and made the big plays.”
Ohio St (4) 12 10 7 0 -- 29Notre Dame (5) 7 0 3 6 -- 16Scoring1st QuarterOSU--TD, Pepe Pearson 3-yd run (kick failed); 1:45ND--TD, Marc Edwards 2-yd pass from Ron Powlus (Jim Sanson kick); 8:55OSU--TD, Matt Calhoun 3-yd pass from Stanley Jackson (run failed); 11:232nd QuarterOSU--FG, Josh Jackson 24-yd; 11:08OSU--TD, Pepe Pearson 1-yd run (Josh Jackson kick); 14:063rd QuarterND--FG, Jim Sanson 26-yd; 5:13OSU--TD, D.J. Jones 13-yd pass from Stanley Jackson (Josh Jackson kick); 13:164th QuarterND--Marc Edwards 9-yd run (kick failed); 7:59Individual Statistics RUSHING: Ohio St-Pearson 29-173, Calhoun 4-16, Montgomery 4-11, M Keller 3-7, S Jackson 3-minus 1. Notre Dame-Denson 19-55, Kinder 7-20, Edwards 7-18, Powlus 9-15, Mosley 1-10, Farmer 1-8.PASSING: Ohio St-S Jackson 9-15-1-154, Germaine 4-5-0-31. Notre Dame-Powlus 13-30-2-154.RECEIVING: Ohio St-Pearson 2-42, Lumpkin 2-28, Jones 2-25, Stanley 2-24, Miller 2-18, M Wiley 1-31, M Keller 1-15, Calhoun 1-2. Notre Dame-M Johnson 3-40, Mosley 2-32, Denson 2-11,Edwards 2-7, Carreta 1-42, Champion 1-12, Nelson 1-10,Chryplewicz 1-0. Att: 59,075