clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Buckeye Heroes: When his number was called, Kenny Guiton was ready

Low-key Kenny G’s heroics will be remembered by a whole generation of Buckeye fans.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

From now until preseason camp starts in August, Land-Grant Holy Land will be writing articles around a different theme every week. This week is all about Ohio State heroes. Whether they are the biggest names in Buckeye athletic history, or underappreciated icons; perhaps even players who made major impacts off the field. You can catch up on all of the Theme Week content here and all of our ”Buckeye Heroes” articles here.

After four years covering men’s basketball at Land-Grant Holy Land, I’ve finally worked up the courage to write a brief piece about something non-hardwood related. All it took was a theme week to jog my memory and motivate me to write about one of the more under-the-radar Buckeye heroes of the past 20 years — Kenny Guiton.

Oddly enough, I began following Ohio State basketball — Thad Matta’s teams — well before I ever began paying attention to college football. I watched every week, but I didn’t completely understand the nitty gritty x’s and o’s, and I wasn’t too overly concerned with any particular game other than the week we played TTUN in late November. I was a Buckeye through and through, raised in Toledo and wanted to go to Ohio State for as long as I could remember. But the football bug didn’t bite me until 2012.

And I have none other than Kenny Guiton to thank for that.

For years, the Purdue Boilermakers have been a heel to the Ohio State Buckeyes on the gridiron. Not a rival, per se, but a gnat that Ohio State has to continually swat at year after year. More often than not, that damn gnat hangs around until the fourth quarter, leaving the scarlet and gray-clad fans on the edge of their seat until time expires. Occasionally the gnats from West Lafayette win. Purdue has spoiled opportunities for Big Ten championshps and national championships over the last few decades, and generally have been a huge trap game for Ohio State.

On Oct. 20, 2012, the Buckeyes found themselves in one of those sticky, muck-it-up trap games against a 3-3 Purdue team that had yet to win a Big Ten game that season. Ohio State, on the other hand, was an undefeated 7-0, during Urban Meyer’s first season at the helm of the program. A sophomore Braxton Miller was under center, but as is the case with dual-threat quarterbacks, there’s a higher risk for injury when he’s scrambling and leaving himself vulnerable. More on that later.

On this chilly, damp Saturday afternoon, Purdue played their way to a 13-7 halftime lead. Akeem Hunt returned a kickoff 100 yards all the way to the house to put Purdue up 13-7 with 5:17 remaining in the half, and that’s how this game would stay until the break. I would give more details about the other 25 minutes of the first half, but it has nothing to do with our Buckeye Hero, Kenny Guiton.

After a frustrating first half that saw the Buckeyes put together just one drive of more than 20 yards — their lone touchdown drive — Ohio State was still within one score when the second half began. All things, considered, not too bad, right?

Ohio State retook a 14-13 lead following an eight-play, 80-yard drive at the 7:41 mark of the third quarter that was capped off by a Carlos Hyde two-yard plunge into the endzone. But the Boilermakers swung back a few minutes later with a scoring drive of their own, with Caleb TerBush marching Purdue 82 yards down the field and finding Gary Bush for a 31-yard touchdown to put the Boilers back up 20-14 with 3:49 left in the game.

After an Ohio State fumble and a Purdue field goal was blocked, the Buckeyes found themsleves in a world of hurt at the tail end of the third quarter. Braxton Miller began Ohio State’s drive from their own 24, and ran 37 yards up the near sideline, where he was taken down by Josh Johnson at the Purdue 39 for a first down.

But as Johnson got up, it became clear Miller wasn’t going to. Ohio State’s sophomore signal-caller slammed his head and shoulder hard on the turf, and was eventually carted off the field and taken to the hospital.

Enter Kenny Guiton. To that point, Ohio State’s 6-foot-3, 210-pound backup had thrown exactly 10 passes that season — nine of which were in a blowout over Miami (OH). Suddenly, he was tasked with authoring a comeback to keep the Buckeyes’ perfect season alive against a team that loved (and still does, to this day) spoiling Ohio State’s fun.

Guiton’s first drive against the Boilermakers was not successful, and his second drive resulted in a safety when an illegal block was called in the endzone. 22-14 Purdue, with 10 minutes remaining.

The Boilermakers were on track to hand Urban Meyer his first loss as the head coach at Ohio State. With 47 seconds remaining in the game, Purdue still held that same eight-point lead, and they just needed to stop Ohio State’s backup quarterback from driving 61 yards down the field and going for two right after. Easy enough.

Guiton started the drive by uncorking a 39-yard pass and run to Devin Smith, down to the Purdue 22 for a first down. An eight-yard completion to future national champion WR/QB Evan Spencer followed, putting Ohio State at Purdue’s 14 with 28 seconds remaining.

With time ticking down, Guiton’s next three passes all fell incomplete, and 105,000 fans excitiment and exuberance suddently shifted to devastation — the fairytale ending was about to crash. But Guiton’s third down pass to Spencer drew a flag with eight seconds remaining, giving the Buckeyes new life.

The ball was placed at the 2-yard line. Guiton took the snap, drifted to his left, and found a diving Chris Fields for a touchdown. Exuberance resumed, but only for a moment — the Buckeyes stil needed two more.

With three seconds on the clock still, Guiton lined up in the shotgun formation and scampered to his right, pulling the Purdue defense his way. He then looked back over his shoulder and threw to the same spot he found Fields, this time fiding Jeff Heuerman for the conversion. Overtime at the horseshoe.

In overtime, Guiton made the plays that had to be made to keep the pressure on the now-reeling Boilers. A big 17-yard completion to Jake Stoneburner set up Carlos Hyde for the go-ahead score in OT, and Purdue sputtered out on their first overtime drive on 4th-and-5 at the OSU 20.

Celebration. Relief. Chaos. Ohio State’s rarely used backup quarterback had just authored one of the most memorable fourth-quarter comeback drives in recent memory. Kenny Guiton may never pay for another drink in Columbus.

NCAA Football: Central Florida at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, a 16-year old me jumped in the air in front of our living room TV in Toledo. What a story! What a comeback! My interest in football had always lagged behind basketball, but — even if it took me a bit longer than my friends — I was hooked. The pride I felt for my team, my state, and my future school had never been higher.

I’ll always remember that final drive by Kenny Guiton. That’s why he’s a Buckeye Hero, in my eyes.