In 1974, the Ohio State Buckeyes were undefeated and ranked No. 1 when they played at Michigan State (4-3-1). Leading 13-9 with five minutes left, Ohio State gave up an 88-yard touchdown run to MSU's Levi Jackson, but drove down the field for what they thought was the winning touchdown as time expired.
Each week during the football season, BuckeyeXtra.com will bring subscribers the original coverage of an event in the life of legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes, taken from the archives of The Columbus Dispatch newspaper. These stories, photos and clippings predate the Internet era and are being presented in digital form for the first time.
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(Stories originally published on November 10, 1974)Bucks Lose to MSU in Wild Finish Final Play Hassle Caps 16-13 Rouser
By Paul Hornung
Dispatch Sports Editor
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Ohio State's unbeaten record and No. 1 national ranking, and maybe its Rose Bowl dreams, came crashing down before inspired underdog Michigan State, 16-13, Saturday in a controversy that will echo through the football world for years to come.
In fact, it was 46 minutes after the final play that Big 10 Commissioner Wayne Duke finally confirmed the officials' decision that the Buckeyes' valiant, last-minute drive had failed and that the Spartans had repeated their resounding upset of 1972, also played here.
Michigan's victory at Illinois gave it undisputed first place in the Big Ten at 6-0 to 5-1 for Ohio State - 8-1 overall- and 4-1-1 for the young and surprising Spartans (5-3-1).
The Buckeyes play at Iowa next week and Michigan will host Purdue in the preliminary to the season finale at Ohio Stadium, which has suddenly changed complexion, radically.
Duke went to the dressing rooms and the officials' room after the game and it was not until he returned to the press box that lingering fans- maybe almost half of the original 78,533 Spartan Stadium crowd- and all the press knew officially that Michigan State had won.
Fullback Champ Henson plunged six yards and almost over the goal line with 29 seconds remaining. The officials called time to determine whether or not it was a first down and so signalled restarting the clock.
The Buckeyes attempted to line up, as the final seconds ticked off, and so did get a play started. The ball squirted between quarterback Cornelius Greene's legs, was picked up by wingback Brian Baschnagel and carried well into the end zone.
"Both the back judge (William Kingzetti) and field judge (Robert Dagenhardt) indicated that play had been suspended before the last play." Duke relayed.
The commissioner confirmed that "the head linesman (Ed Scheck) signalled a touchdown, but he was informed by the back judge that time had expired."
Duke, who talked with the officials twice by phone at their Kellogg Center headquarters (they left immediately from the field), also said that Referee Gene Calhoun had informed him that, had time not run out, "Ohio State would have been charged with a penalty because it did not come to the required 1-second set before the ball was snapped."
A game cannot end on an offensive penalty, Duke noted, and the Buckeyes could have been given an extra play from the six, except that time had expired in the judgement of the officials.
Michigan State players and coaches leaped in jubilation as the game ended and fans poured onto the field. Moments later, Ohio State players started jumping and waving their arms, apparently figuring the touchdown had counted.
Eventually, the Spartans resumed their celebration- which proved to be the real thing ("I did not make the decision," Duke explained later, "I merely sought an explanation from the officials, who made the decision."). Wild fans attacked the goal posts and managed to tear down part of each.
Ohio State Athletic Director Ed Weaver talked with Coach Woody Hayes by phone from the press box and hastened to the dressing room, along with Associate Director Hugh Hindman and Faculty Representative Roy Larmee.
Hayes is believed to have questioned the fact that more than 29 seconds ran off the clock from the Henson plunge to the controversial last play, but no mention of a protest was made before the disconsolate Buckeye party headed for its charter jet and a return to Columbus.
Ohio State, unbeaten in 19 straight games, appeared to be on its way to a hard-earned victory when Henson charged over right tackle for a touchdown with 9:03 of the game remaining, and Tom Klaban, whose two field goals had constituted the only OSU scoring, added the point. The Buckeyes led 13-3.
But Spartan quarterback Charlie Baggett, hounded by the Buckeye line most of the day, fired a 44-yard pass to end Mike Jones for a touchdown at 5:30.
The Spartans elected to try for a two-point conversion and Baggett did hit fullback Levi Jackson, but he was downed on the Ohio State 3.
The Buckeyes led by four, but possession became paramount. All-American Archie Griffin returned the ensuing kickoff to the Ohio 30.
Henson started the series with a seven-yard cutback over left guard, but Baschnagel's reverse over tackle was piled up for no gain and Henson's short plunge came up a yard short of a first down.
Tom Skladany delivered exactly what the situation required: a 55-yard punt to the Michigan State 12.
But Jackson broke over a hole at right tackle, past two Buckeye defenders and eluded a desperation tackle by safetyman Tim Fox on his way to the end zone. The 88-yard gallop put the Spartans in the lead for the first time, 16-13.
After Griffin returned the kickoff to the Ohio State 29, he broke for 31 yards to the MSU 40. The great little Buckeye, already over 100 yards for the 20th straight time, swept his right end, behind big blocks, and appeared momentarily to the about to go all the way.
Henson drove for three, Greene worked his way 5 on a rollout and turned a pass play into a 9-yard sweep of the left side. With first down on the Spartan 23, Greene passed too high for end Mike Bartoszek in the end zone but did find end Dave Hazel for nine.
Henson powered for a first down at the MSU 11, Griffin ran a raw to the six and Henson blasted over the middle, no more than inches from the goal line.
Then came the disappearing 29 seconds and the weirdest ending to a Big Ten game.
* * *Angry Hayes Awaits Films
By Bill Prewitt
Dispatch Sports Writer
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- There was as much confusion in the locker rooms as there was on the field following Michigan State's stunning, controversial upset over No. 1-ranked Ohio State here Saturday.
Just as the controversy raged on the field at the game's conclusion, Ohio State's volatile head coach Woody Hayes raged in the OSU locker room.
In a short appearance at the door after the team had filed in, Hayes announced that he was appealing the game, and that he'd "wait and see what the films say" about the controversial final play, when halfback Brian Baschnagel grabbed the loose football and lugged it into the end zone as the time on the scoreboard clock expired.
"I didn't see any penalties on the play," Hayes asserted. "The ball squirted loose between (quarterback Cornelius) Green's legs and Brian grabbed it and carried it in. One official called it a touchdown and the other said the game was over."
Secondly, Hayes raised another point that irked him. "They layed on top of the pileup and wouldn't let us run the play, and the referee wouldn't call a time out. He should have stopped the clock but they let the time run out."
His point made, Hayes backed through the door into the locker room, and didn't come out until almost 40 minutes later, when his only comment was, "Get the people out of my way, I'm getting on that bus."
* * *The Woody Hayes Archive:
>> Ohio State hires a new coach (1951)
>> Rose Bowl win caps perfect season for Ohio State (1955)
>> Another national title, another Rose Bowl victory for Ohio State (1958)
>> Ohio State students protest as faculty bans Rose Bowl trip (1961)
>> Thrilling comeback win at Michigan makes Ohio State's season (1965)
>> Ohio State coach visits troops in Vietnam (1966)
>> Wearing short sleeves in the snow on the Ohio State sideline (1967)
>> Ohio State's Woody Hayes joins rally with Richard Nixon (1968)
>> O.J. visits Ohio State locker room after Rose Bowl win (1969)
>> Ohio State win over Michigan called 'our greatest victory' (1970)
>> No. 1 Ohio State loses at Michigan State in controversial finish (1974)
>> Hayes starts his 25th season as Ohio State coach (1975)
>> Ohio State comeback against Michigan is 'greatest game' (1975)
>> Ohio State coach sponsors a Vietnamese refugee family (1975)
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