BLACKSBURG, Va. — No. 1 Ohio State found a way to get all three of its star quarterbacks involved in its 42-24, season-opening win over Virginia Tech on Monday night at Lane Stadium.
Starter Cardale Jones passed for 186 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for a career-high 99 yards and a score. J.T. Barrett accounted for 66 total yards and a touchdown in just two plays, and Braxton Miller made his impact at a completely different position.
Miller, who won back-to-back Big Ten Most Valuable Player awards as a quarterback in 2012 and 2013, made his return to the field after missing all of last season with a shoulder injury.
He started at H-back in his first contest in more than a year and racked up 140 total yards and two touchdowns.
“It’s really cool to have him back, especially for him to have kind of a coming-out party in his first game,” Buckeyes offensive tackle Taylor Decker said. “It’s been a long time since Braxton has been on the field with us.”
Miller’s two long third-quarter touchdowns pushed Ohio State back into control after the Hokies erased a two-touchdown deficit in the second quarter and took a 17-14 lead into halftime.
“When it’s a close game, you have to have athletes to bust you of it, and I think we did that tonight,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said.
After sitting out last season, Miller decided to return to the Buckeyes for his senior year despite falling to third in the quarterback pecking order behind the dynamic duo of Jones and Barrett.
Ohio State (1-0) is certainly glad he came back. Miller caught a 54-yard touchdown pass from Jones to put the Buckeyes ahead 21-17 with 13:53 remaining in the third. His 53-yard spinning touchdown run 11 minutes later broke open the game.
“He’s one tremendous athlete,” Hokies coach Frank Beamer said. “He went down that sideline and a couple of guys missed him, but he was doing stuff to make you miss him, too.”
Miller finished with two catches for 78 yards and six carries for 62 yards.
Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott rushed for a game-high 122 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries. Jones completed nine of 18 passes and threw one interception.
Barrett made an appearance in the fourth quarter, leading a drive he capped with a 26-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Thomas with 8:14 remaining. That was his lone pass, and his only run went for 40 yards.
The Buckeyes outgained the Hokies 572 yards to 320.
Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Brewer left the game with a fractured left shoulder early in the third quarter.
Hokies trainer Mike Goforth said Brewer is scheduled for surgery Tuesday, and the senior could miss up to eight weeks.
Brewer, who completed 11 of 16 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns, was planted into the ground by 290-pound defensive tackle Adolphus Washington after throwing a pass. He stayed on the ground for a while before coming off the field.
Brenden Motley wasn’t nearly as effective as Brewer’s replacement, finishing 4-for-9 for 36 yards and a 17-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Isaiah Ford late in the fourth quarter. Motley also threw an interception.
“It’s a big opportunity for me,” said Motley, who is expected to start for the Hokies in their home game against Furman on Saturday. “I’m excited about it. I know my teammates are confident in me.”
Virginia Tech (0-1) came back from a 14-0 deficit at the end of the first quarter to score the only 17 points of the second quarter.
Ohio State dominated the first quarter, outgaining the Hokies 205 yards to 56, but Virginia Tech used big plays on defense and special teams to get back into the game.
A tipped pass by Virginia Tech linebacker Deon Clarke led to a diving interception by safety Desmond Frye. That led to a 46-yard Joey Slye field goal to cut the lead to 14-10 with 7:05 left in the half.
Later in the second quarter, Elliott muffed a punt by left-footed Virginia Tech punter A.J. Hughes, and the ball was recovered by Hokies sophomore Anthony Shegog. Virginia Tech turned that turnover into a 1-yard touchdown pass from Brewer to tight end Ryan Malleck with 15 seconds to go before the break.
It was Brewer’s second touchdown pass of the quarter. His 51-yard strike to fullback Sam Rogers put the Hokies on the scoreboard.
Jones completed three of his first four pass attempts in Ohio State’s opening drive, the last of which was a 24-yard scoring strike to sophomore H-back Curtis Samuel with 9:44 left in the first half.
After a brief Virginia Tech offensive possession, Ohio State struck again with another big play. Elliott busted through a wide open hole and raced past a pack of Hokies defenders for an 80-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0.
NOTES: Ohio State RB Ezekiel Elliott’s 80-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was the longest run allowed by the Hokies since UCLA QB Brett Hundley’s 86-yard touchdown run in the 2013 Sun Bowl. … Virginia Tech FB Sam Rogers has two career touchdown receptions, both against Ohio State. He had a 10-yard touchdown reception at Ohio State last season. … Virginia Tech QB Michael Brewer’s second-quarter touchdown pass was the longest completion of his career. … Ohio State sacked Brewer twice in the first quarter, matching its total from last season’s game against Virginia Tech in Columbus.
By The Sports Xchange