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Buckeyes pull away late to top Navy

Baltimore, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - It took some time, but Ohio State's offense finally began to click under new quarterback J.T. Barrett and the fifth-ranked Buckeyes pulled away late for a 34-17 victory over Navy on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium.

Ohio State (1-0) entered its third season under Urban Meyer with national championship hopes, then lost star quarterback Braxton Miller to a shoulder injury earlier this month and turned to Barrett. The redshirt freshman completed his first pass attempt, a 14-yard toss to Devin Smith to open the game, and his 80-yard TD strike to Smith in the third quarter put Ohio State on top for good.

The Buckeyes went on to add a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to seal their 25th straight regular-season win and 15th consecutive season-opening victory.

Barrett completed 12-of-15 passes for 226 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. He also ran for 50 yards as Ohio State piled up 194 yards on the ground.

Navy (0-1), which finished second in the nation in rushing last year during a 9-4 season, racked up 370 yards on the ground. Ryan Williams-Jenkins accounted for 118 on just seven carries, while quarterback Keenan Reynolds added 42. Reynolds threw the ball just four times and completed two for 20 yards.

The Ohio State offense was stagnant for most of the first three quarters and the Buckeyes trailed 14-13 before Barrett found Smith behind the Navy secondary and hit him for an 80-yard touchdown with 4:10 left in the third.

Navy answered with a 32-yard Nick Sloan field goal just over a minute into the fourth to make it a 20-17 game, but the Buckeyes produced their best offensive march on the next possession to put the game away.

Barrett led a 10-play, 80-yard series that included a successful 4th-and-1 run by Ezekiel Elliott near midfield. A 19-yard pass to Evan Spencer followed before Elliott finished the set with a 10-yard scoring run to make it 27-17 with 8:54 remaining.

Navy went three-and-out and Barrett quickly extended the margin with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas. Barrett also ran three times for 36 yards on the eight-play drive.

After Barrett's first completion on the game's first play from scrimmage, the Buckeyes failed to pick up another first down on their initial series and opened the scoring on their second possession when Sean Nuernberger drilled a 46-yard field goal.

Navy followed with a 75-yard drive to take the lead. Reynolds ran for 24 yards on the second play of the series and threw a 17-yard pass to Brandon Colon to convert 2nd-and-13 from the OSU 43. The march appeared to stall inside the five, but DeBrandon Sanders took a lateral on fourth down from the one and reached for the pylon just before going out of bounds for the touchdown in the first minute of the second quarter.

The Buckeyes drove inside the Navy 10 midway through the second, but Barrett was picked off just in front of the goal line by Parris Gaines. Ohio State got the ball back after a punt at the Navy 41 but settled for a 28-yard Nuernberger kick to make it 7-6.

Navy still had just over two minutes left before the intermission and drove to the Ohio State 18, but Sloan missed a 36-yard field goal. Reynolds then had the Midshipmen in Ohio State territory to start the second half, but he fumbled on a third-down play and linebacker Darron Lee raced 61 yards untouched to the end zone for the Buckeyes' first touchdown of 2014.

However, Williams-Jenkins broke loose for a 67-yard run on the next Navy offensive play, setting up Reynolds' quarterback sneak from the one to put the Midshipmen back on top.

Game Notes

Eleven different Midshipmen had rushing attempts ... Ohio State hasn't lost a season opener since 1999 and is 34-2 in its last 36 openers ... The Buckeyes are ranked in the preseason poll for the 26th consecutive season ... Ohio State improved to 5-0 all-time against Navy ... Meyer is 13-0 all-time in season openers ... Navy hasn't beaten a ranked team since 2009 -- a 23-21 win over No. 19 Notre Dame -- and last knocked off a top-five team in 1984 -- a 38-21 triumph over No. 2 South Carolina.

08/30 16:56:16 ET

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