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Published September 12, 2015
Redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns in his college debut, and No. 5 Ohio State beat Navy 34-17 Saturday for its 25th consecutive regular-season victory.
Elevated into a starting role after senior Braxton Miller injured his right shoulder on Aug. 18, Barrett went 12 for 15 — including an 80-yard TD pass to Devin Smith that put the Buckeyes up 20-14 with 4:10 left in the third quarter.
Ohio State (1-0) won despite allowing Navy (0-1) to gain 370 yards on the ground, including 118 by Ryan Williams-Jenkins.
Barrett became the second freshman since 1950 to start a season opener at quarterback for Ohio State. He ran nine times for 50 yards, did not throw downfield often and relied heavily on a ground game that finally wore down the Midshipmen in the fourth quarter.
After Navy closed to 20-17 with 13:54 remaining, the Buckeyes launched a 10-play drive that featured just one pass. Ezekiel Elliott converted a fourth-and-1 from the Navy 45 and Barrett threw a 19-yard completion before Elliott ran in from the 10.
Barrett's 9-yard touchdown pass to Mike Thomas made it 34-17 with 2:09 left.
Navy held a 7-6 lead and was driving on the opening series of the second half when Joey Bosa hit Keenan Reynolds as the quarterback was tossing a pitch to Demond Brown. The ball went awry, and Darron Lee took it 61 yards the other way for a touchdown.
The Midshipmen responded immediately. Williams-Jenkins ran 67 yards to the Ohio State 17, and Reynolds scored from the 1 to put Navy up 14-13. That gave Reynolds a touchdown in nine straight games, tying the school record.
Ohio State then turned the ball over on downs, when Elliott was stuck for a 2-yard loss on fourth down from the Navy 45.
But the momentum turned when Smith got behind the Navy defense on the right side, broke a tackle and scored on the longest touchdown against the Midshipmen since an 87-yarder by Tulane in November 2004.
Navy drove to the Ohio State 18 on the final possession of the first half before Nick Sloan missed a 36-yard field goal, keeping the Buckeyes' deficit at 7-6.
Throwing mostly short, safe passes, Barrett went 8 for 11 for 96 yards and an interception before halftime.
Barrett's first play at Ohio State was a pass completion for 14 yards. Although he appeared comfortable in the no-huddle offense, the Buckeyes quickly punted.
Ohio State's next possession began with four straight runs, followed by a sack. A shovel pass on a third-and-21 gained 16 yards to set up a 46-yard field goal by freshman Sean Nuernberger.
Navy answered with an 11-play drive, 10 of them runs, capped by a 1-yard touchdown sweep by DeBrandon Sanders.
Midway through the second quarter, Barrett went 4 for 4 for 54 yards to bring the Buckeyes to the Navy 8. But he hurried a first-down pass and was intercepted by Parrish Gaines.
Barrett's inexperience showed again on the next series, when Ohio State had to settle for a field goal. On a third-and-2 from the Navy 4, Barrett rolled right and pitched too late to Elliott, who was smothered for a 7-yard loss.