Arlington, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Cardale Jones threw a touchdown pass and ran for another, while Ezekiel Elliott added a rushing score and Ohio State leads Oregon 21-10 at halftime in the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
Jones was 10-of-15 for 171 yards to go with 48 yards on the ground and Elliott carried the ball 11 times for 98 yards for the fourth-seeded Buckeyes, who defeated top-ranked Alabama 42-35 in the Sugar Bowl to reach the title game.
Heisman trophy winner Marcus Mariota completed 18-of-23 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown for No. 2 Oregon, which routed Florida State 59-20 in the Rose Bowl to get to Monday night's contest.
The Buckeyes put up 21 straight points after Oregon scored a touchdown on its opening drive. Ohio State found the end zone on consecutive possessions late in the first quarter after punting on their initial series.
Jones fired a 26-yard strike on a 3rd-and-8 to Corey Smith, then rolled left and tossed another 26-yard completion to Jalin Marshall, who corralled the wheel-route pass off the back of Erick Dargan along the left sideline. Marshall prolonged the drive when he fought for the first-down marker after going in motion and receiving a pop pass from Jones on a 4th-and-2. Elliott then zoomed through the secondary off the left side of the line for a 33-yard touchdown that tied the game at 7-7.
Marshall returned a punt 17 yards to the Oregon 46 and Elliott later barreled to the 1 following a 17-yard run. Jones then flipped a 1-yard TD pass to Nick Vannett in the left flat with 1:08 left in the first quarter.
After a rolling Jones lofted a 43-yard completion to Devin Smith on a 3rd- and-12 in the second quarter, he snuck in from a yard out three plays later for a 21-7 Buckeyes advantage with 4:49 to go in the half.
Aidan Schneider nailed a 28-yard field goal in the final minute to get the Ducks within 21-10.
The Ducks, who turned the ball over just 10 times during the regular season, had a pair of close calls on their opening drive.
Thomas Tyner lost the football after dashing through a huge hole off right guard, but it bounced right back to him and he gained 12 yards. Mariota later fumbled when he picked his way for seven yards on a scramble, but a replay showed that his knee was down.
Mariota then capped the initial 11-play, 75-yard march when he eluded pressure, stepped up in the pocket and hit Keanon Lowe for a 7-yard score.
Oregon's first half was defined by miscues. Mariota's first two incompletions were third-down drops and the Ducks weren't able to capitalize on a pair of Ohio State fumbles.
The aggressive Ducks elected to go for it on a 4th-and-goal from the OSU 3 following a fumbled exchange between Jones and Elliott, but the Buckeyes stuffed Tyner at the 1. Oregon then went three-and-out after recovering a Corey Smith fumble following a 47-yard reception.