Buckeyes thrash Youngstown State, but lose Wells to injury
Beating the snot out of Youngstown State was as easy as Ohio State thought it might be. There was a problem. It was more costly than the Buckeyes could have imagined.
The second-ranked Buckeyes smacked the Penguins around, but the biggest blow was delivered to Ohio State. How does a top-five team that thrashed its opening opponent lose? When one of the country’s best college football players is wincing in pain on the turf, carted off the field and possibly done for the season.
The Buckeyes lost starting tailback Chris “Beanie” Wells, a Heisman Trophy-type back, with a foot injury in the third quarter of their 43-0 thumping of Youngstown State. Wells took a handoff inside the YSU 5 and looked to score his second touchdown. When he planted his right foot, Wells lost the ball in pain.
Ohio Stadium fell silent and the buzz of the season-opening blowout was killed.
“When you see one of the best backs in the country laying there in pain, it’s definitely something that you don’t want to see,” quarterback Todd Boeckman said. “Beanie’s a tough guy. I know we’re all pulling for him. He’s gone to the doctors and he’ll do whatever he can to help this team out.”
After the game, Wells signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans. He smiled. Asked if he was all right, Wells nodded his head. He wore a protective boot on his right foot, but did not need crutches.
Buckeye Head Coach Jim Tressel did not get specific about the injury. He did say X-rays were negative.
Team doctors and trainers spent several minutes on the field. Tressel was there as were several teammates. On the sideline, medical personnel examined the ball of Wells’ right foot before they carted him to the locker room. A turf toe injury would be consistent with problems on the ball of his foot. A towel was draped over Wells head and he appeared to dab away tears.
“When the trainers came out to me and said that it’s more of a foot thing, they didn’t use the phrase turf toe,” Tressel said. “They did use the phrase ‘X-rays were negative.’”
Tressel said he didn’t know when Wells would be available to the Buckeyes again. Daniel “Boom” Herron, a redshirt freshman, and sophomore Brandon Saine would be his replacements. Herron ran for 17 yards on five carries and Saine had 20 on five. They’re nicknamed Boom and Zoom.
“I was a little scared, a little nervous (when Wells got hurt),” Herron said. “I was hoping he was OK. Me and him, we’re like best friends.”
The injury took away from an impressive, but expected, lopsided win. Quarterback Todd Boeckman completed 14-of-19 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns. Wells rushed for 111 on just 13 carries before his injury.
The offense scored four touchdowns and kicked five field goals. However, the Buckeyes had to settle for Ryan Pretorius field goals three times inside the YSU 20.
“I think if we’re looking for something to improve on, definitely it’s our red-zone offense,” said receiver Brian Hartline, who caught two passes for 59 yards, including the longest catch of the day, a 47-yarder. “We left some points out there. We know that.”
True freshman QB Terrelle Pryor made his debut with just under seven minutes left in the first quarter. There was a buzz in the stadium and a standing ovation greeted him. Pryor scored a touchdown on a 19-yard run and ran 21 yards on another play. He finished with 52 yards on nine carries.
Ohio State’s defense, with 10 returning starters from a year ago, smothered Youngstown. The Penguins had six three-and-out series and punted nine times, lost a fumble and ran out both halves on their 12 possessions.
“I’ve gained more respect for Ohio State’s defense,” said YSU Head Coach Jon Heacock, brother of OSU’s defensive coordinator Jim Heacock. “... Our team was humbled today.”
The defense also set up the offense in plus field position most of the afternoon. The Buckeyes started six drives less than 60 yards away from the end zone. The Buckeyes didn’t convert their first third-down, however, until midway through the second quarter.
OSU’s first score came from Wells. On fourth-and-1, actually less than 1, the Buckeyes were looking for short yardage to keep their opening drive alive. YSU stacked the box and once Wells broke through the first line of defense, thanks to a huge hole opened by Steve Rehring and Alex Boone over left tackle, Wells had the entire field in front of him and wasted little time getting to the end zone.
How many times will OSU fans see that again this season? Only a doctor knows the answer to that today.
“First and foremost,” Brian Robiskie said, “you can’t replace Beanie Wells. It’s just hard. But I feel like we’ve got a lot of guys that can step up.”
They may have no choice now.
Reach Repository sports writer Todd Porter at (330) 580-8340 or e-mail email@example.com