Zach Tuggle / The Lantern
Terrelle Pryor threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as Ohio State (4-1, 2-0) rolled to a 33-14 victory over Indiana before a Buckeye-heavy crowd at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind.
The sophomore quarterback tossed all his touchdowns in the first half, guiding OSU to its 15th consecutive win over the Hoosiers.
“He’s a difference maker. I think that’s the best way to put it,” Indiana coach Bill Lynch said. “I don’t know how many times he got them out of situations with his legs to get first downs … He made some good throws too. He’s a pretty special football player.”
Pryor connected with eight different receivers, and freshmen Duron Carter and Zach Boren hauled in the first scores of their brief careers.
“It’s great when you have a quarterback that spreads the ball around and gets all of the people into the game,” Carter said. “The coaches definitely felt more comfortable calling a lot more pass plays, and hopefully we can do that in the future.”
The Buckeyes kept the Hoosiers off balance with their two-headed rushing attack.
Starting for Dan Herron, who sat out with a sprained ankle, running back Brandon Saine chipped in a career-high 113 yards on 17 carries. Saine’s speed helped to compensate for the absence of his backfield counterpart.
“Once he gets going, he can fly,” Pryor said. “He’s a gazelle.”
Along with Saine’s output, Pryor constantly scrambled for extra yardage, as OSU amassed 15 first downs on the ground.
Pryor’s ability to improvise with his legs took some of the focus away from the running backs, Saine said.
“With Terrelle back there, it’s a huge advantage for me as a tailback,” he said. “I think that in the future, they’re really going to have to guess about who’s going to get the ball in the schemes that we’re running.”
A 46-yard field goal by Aaron Pettrey gave OSU a 3-0 lead. After three ineffective plays, Indiana punted the ball back to the Bucks, who marched downfield in eight plays for a touchdown. Pryor found Carter for a five-yard score, as the rookie corralled the pass after juggling it in the end zone.
“Once I scored, I was kind of surprised,” he said. “I didn’t know what to do, to celebrate or to throw the ball to the ref or anything.”
The Hoosiers closed the gap to 10-7 when quarterback Ben Chappell hooked up with Tandon Doss for a seven-yard score. Pryor and the Buckeye offense, however, stormed down the field for a three-play drive, culminating in a 23-yard touchdown strike to DeVier Posey.
OSU’s defense spoiled any plans of an Indiana comeback by forcing three turnovers. Safety Anderson Russell, starting in place of the suspended Kurt Coleman, recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass.
Defensive lineman Todd Denlinger found himself in the way of one of Chappell’s passes and returned the interception 14 yards.
“All I heard was a big thump at first, and then I looked back and saw Todd,” defensive tackle Doug Worthington said. “But it was great seeing him out there and make a play like that.”
Denlinger, at 6 feet 2 inches and 292 pounds, embraced the rare opportunity to possess the football.
“Anytime I get the ball, it’s an awkward feeling,” he said. “But at the same time, it was an amazing feeling knowing that I made a big play.”
Offensively, it was the sophomore Pryor who routinely made big plays. He totaled eight carries that each gained seven or more yards.
“With Pryor, you have to be perfect,” Indiana linebacker Will Patterson said. “He definitely created things and kept them in the game and kept them going.”
Saine and Pryor steered the Buckeyes to 219 yards on the ground to Indiana’s 18. Pryor finished with 159 yards through the air and 63 rushing yards. His one-yard score put the finishing touches on OSU’s win.
“Having a running quarterback is the best thing,” Carter said. “It creates a lot of problems for the defense. Terrelle is a great runner, he breaks a lot of tackles, he gets out of situations that normal quarterbacks wouldn’t. Sometimes we’ll think the plays over and we’ll stop running, but he’s still going.”
Pryor’s versatility has the Buckeye offense hitting its stride. OSU has scored 101 points in its past three games.
“We felt like we have our pop back, we have our wiggle back,” Posey said. “We feel like we’re getting a lot more into it as we go on in the season.”
OSU welcomes Wisconsin at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Ohio Stadium.