Barrett, Buckeyes pull away from Bearcats
COLUMBUS (AP) — J.T. Barrett passed for 330 yards and four touchdowns and Ezekiel Elliott ran for 182 yards and a score to lead No. 22 Ohio State past Gunner Kiel and Cincinnati 50-28 on Saturday night.
Kiel, the acclaimed passer for the Bearcats (2-1), completed 21 of 32 passes for 352 yards and four scores in a game of wild momentum swings before a stadium-record crowd of 108,362.
The Buckeyes (3-1), who won their 40th consecutive game over an in-state opponent, totaled 710 yards. But their defense couldn’t stop the Bearcats, who had wide-out Chris Moore catch three passes for 221 yards and three TDs.
Not until Barrett hit Devin Smith with a 29-yard scoring pass early in the fourth quarter was it clear the Buckeyes would survive. The score made it 50-28 and finally eased the anxiety of the huge crowd.
A freshman who took over after two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year Braxton Miller was lost for the season after shoulder surgery, Barrett hit on 26 of 36 passes and also ran for 79 yards on 14 carries.
It was the first time Ohio State had topped 700 yards in offense since totaling 715 against Utah on Aug. 27, 1986.
The Buckeyes picked up field goals of 25 and 42 yards by Sean Nuernberger on the first two touches of the second half. But in between Moore was completely alone on a simple crossing pattern and he went 78 yards for his third score.
Down 36-28, Cincinnati had a chance to pull even on its next possession but Johnny Holton was called for offensive pass interference. Replays showed a defender was holding onto his jersey as he swatted his hand away.
The Bearcats were forced to punt, and that proved to be the last opportunity for the visitors to catch up.
With Elliott and Rod Smith doing most of the damage on the ground, the Buckeyes came right back to cover 62 yards in six plays to push the lead to 43-28 before Barrett’s final TD pass put it out of reach.
The Buckeyes led 30-21 at the half, but neither coach Urban Meyer nor Cincinnati’s Tommy Tuberville could have been happy in the locker room. Coming in, Tuberville was 2-0 against Meyer when both were bumping heads in the SEC, Tuberville at Auburn and Meyer at Florida.
The Bearcats scored stunning TDs on their first and last possessions of the half. The first covered 60 yards from Kiel to Moore on the fourth play from scrimmage and the last was an 83-yard bomb that Kiel lofted to Moore, who was running clear on a post pattern.
In between, Ohio State dominated. The Buckeyes scored on their first four possessions — 3-yard runs by Rod Smith and Elliott and 19-yard completions by Barrett to Devin Smith and Evan Spencer — and also notched two points when Joey Bosa sacked and stripped Kiel, resulting in a safety.
But with the Buckeyes leading 30-7 and at the Cincinnati 38 midway through the second quarter, Jeff Luc knocked the ball loose from Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel and Leviticus Payne recovered for the Bearcats. Kiel, who sat out a series in favor of Jarred Evans, then led a six-play, 58-yard march capped by a 19-yard TD pass to Holton.
Cincinnati had trouble stopping the Buckeyes all half but was able to force a punt and Kiel then tossed the long pass for Moore’s second TD.
It could have been even closer. On the series Evans was in, he rolled right and just as he was being hit lofted a 45-yard scoring pass to Moore. But it was brought back due to an ineligible receiver downfield. Moments later, the Bearcats were forced to punt.
One of the highlights of the half had little to do with the game action.
A fan ran on the field late in the half and Ohio State staffer Anthony Schlegel, a former linebacker in 2004-05 who is now a strength coach, caught him and threw him to the turf while the crowd roared its approval. The fan was led off the field as Buckeyes players and coaches slapped Schlegel on the back.
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