IOWA CITY – DeVier Posey had just dropped a perfect pass in the end zone and it was fourth down and game for Ohio State late Saturday afternoon at buzzing Kinnick Stadium.
Terrelle Pryor was upset about the failed opportunity, but he also knew the Buckeyes still had to get a first down with 4:02 to play and trailing 17-13 against Iowa if they wanted to keep their hopes alive for a share of the Big Ten title.
So, the junior quarterback took matters into his own hands – or feet if you must. On a fourth-and-10 play from midfield that the Hawkeyes defenders will replay in their nightmares, Pryor took the snap out of the shotgun, briefly looked for an open receiver while rolling out to the right and then took off running to the left. He didn’t stop until he had gained 14 yards – diving for the final few yards -- to move the chains. Five plays later, Dan Herron scored on a 1-yard run and Ohio State had rallied for a 20-17 victory.
Pryor had five receivers on the fourth-down play, according to Ohio State coach Jim Tressel. “So, you have five options there, plus you have the option he may run it,” Tressel said. “That’s about as many options as you can get for a fourth-and-10. We had no choice.”
Even with all those targets, Pryor knew he was running as soon as the ball was in his hands and his top two options, the post and corner routes, were covered.
“I was going to run the whole time,” Pryor said. “After I dove, I knew I was past (the first-down marker).
Tressel watched the fourth-down play unfold from the sideline, starting with Iowa’s pass rush lanes.
“I saw him reading his keys and saw him sliding forward,” Tressel said. “He really didn’t have anything open. He took a left and I saw the same crease he did. He took off and I was afraid he was messing around and wasn’t going to get the first.”
That successful run, the eventual touchdown that capped the 12-play, 76-yard drive and the victory likely healed the sting of the dropped TD pass. Still, you probably can expect some banter between the quarterback and receiver this week when the offense watches film.
“Yeah, I was mad, but we had a fourth-and-10 we had to get to or we were going to lose the game,” Pryor said. “I went to the sideline. Coach saw me after he dropped it. Nothing against DeVier. We’re best friends and I love him to death. I was mad at first but Coach calmed me down and I had to jump back up and get everything right mentally and try to get this first down.”
The mental part started as soon as Ohio State took over on its 24 following an Iowa punt with 6:05 left in the fourth quarter.
“I was looking in my guys’ eyes. I might not be the best quarterback anywhere or have the best stats, but I guarantee you that I can bring my team back and make them believe that we’re going to come back,’’ Pryor said. “I wanted the linemen to know that I was on the verge of getting us to come back.
“I looked into their eyes and said, “Let’s go get this.’ They knew I was going to lead them back. I don’t want to be denied.”
Pryor, who completed 18 of 33 for 195 yards with one touchdown, threw two interceptions earlier in the game but shrugged them off.“We had to bounce back, keep the guys going,” he said. “It was all on us at the end.”