RALEIGH, N.C. -- Compared to the kick he made last week, these field goals were easy for Mike Nugent. He certainly made them appear that way.
Nugent tied a school record with five field goals and No. 9 Ohio State made up for a shoddy day offensively by forcing five turnovers in a 22-14
victory over North Carolina State on Saturday.
A week after Nugent booted a 55-yarder on the final play to beat Marshall, Ohio State (3-0) needed more good fortune to get by the Wolfpack (1-1) for
the second straight season.
"I think that was probably the toughest situation a kicker can face," Nugent said of his kick last week. "It does kind of raise your confidence. If
the snap is good and the hold is good, I feel I should do my job and kick it through."
The Buckeyes managed only 137 yards of offense -- 35 coming on their first drive -- and converted only two of their 16 chances on third down. Lydell
Ross carried 25 times for 51 yards, and Justin Zwick finished 10-of-21 for another 73.
Four scoring drives covered 10 yards or less.
"To come down here with a young team like we have versus a veteran team like what N.C. State has, I'm just so proud of our guys," Ohio State coach Jim
Tressel said. "They fought like crazy, caused turnovers, didn't commit turnovers. They just did a great job."
It was barely enough, thanks to a bevy of mistakes by N.C. State and the strong leg of Nugent, who tied Bob Atha's five field goals in 1981 against
Jay Davis threw three interceptions before being benched for a series, including one in the final two minutes of the first half that led to Ohio
State's only touchdown. Tramain Hall muffed a punt and T.A. McLendon fumbled on the second play of the third quarter to give the Buckeyes another
The Wolfpack were called twice for pass interference and had another penalty for running into Ohio State punter Kyle Turano. It added up to their
third straight loss to a ranked opponent, a streak that includes a heartbreaking 44-38 defeat in triple overtime to Ohio State in 2003.
"Any time a quarterback turns over the ball that many times, it's easy to lose the game," Davis said. "I will learn from my mistakes and get
Davis returned from the sideline and threw an 26-yard touchdown pass to Brian Clark with 1:28 left, but the Buckeyes recovered the onside kick and ran
out the clock.
The biggest miscues for the Wolfpack were sandwiched around halftime. After Nugent's 30-yard field goal made it 6-0 with 2:33 left in the second
quarter, N.C. State appeared content to run out the clock. But Davis dropped back on third-and-10 and underthrew Richard Washington near the sideline,
with Donte Whitner there for the interception.
He ran it back 24 yards to the Wolfpack's 3, and Ross powered in on the first play for a 13-point lead.
"If we don't score a touchdown there, that's probably a moral victory for them," Tressel said. "That was a big play."
On the opening possession of the second half, McLendon bobbled a pitch, and Marcus Green recovered for Ohio State at the 16. Three plays netted a
single yard, and Nugent kicked his third field goal for a 16-0 lead.
N.C. State then finally got on the board, with McLendon capping the 80-yard drive by scampering into the end zone from the 11. He missed the opener
against Division I-AA Richmond with a strained hamstring, and returned in this one to run for 94 yards.
"I felt revived," McLendon said. "I am blessed to be back. It was great to be on the field again."
But another penalty, this one a 15-yarder for excessive celebration after McLendon's TD, gave the Buckeyes great field position. They only needed to
move 28 yards in seven plays to set up a 46-yard field goal by Nugent, and he added a 47-yarder early in the fourth quarter.
"I'd rather kick extra points all day," Nugent said. "The defense just gave us great field position. I just want the coaches and the other guys to
have enough confidence in me to know that it's three points when I go out there."
That final kick came after Davis' third interception, and Ohio State lost 1 yard in three plays before the kick. Davis was 12-for-24 for only 99 yards
in his second game as the replacement for Philip Rivers.
"They had a great defense. Our quarterback was scratching his helmet," N.C. State coach Chuck Amato said. "Jay will learn just as many valuable
lessons today as he did when we won."