Ohio State got 346 yards of total offense from quarterback Terrelle Pryor and a school-record tying five field goals from kicker Devin Barclay while the defense intercepted Miami (Fla.) quarterback Jacory Harris four times as the No. 2 Buckeyes carved out a 36-24 victory Saturday over the 12th-ranked Hurricanes.
The only things preventing total domination on the part of OSU were a pair of special-teams breakdowns and an offense put the ball in the end zone only three times despite rolling up 414 total yards.
For the first time since 1936 – and perhaps the first time in program history – the Buckeyes surrendered kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns in the same game while the offense got inside the Miami 25-yard line on 10 occasions and came away with only three touchdowns.
“Those were two teams that played awfully hard against each other today,” said OSU head coach Jim Tressel. “That was a battle. But when you can create four takeaways, you’re going to have a chance. Then when you have zero giveaways, you have a real good chance.
“You don’t give up two long returns like that and usually survive, but defensively, we flew around. Our guys up front are relentless, our linebackers fly around and our defensive backs will hit you. Miami has some good guys but we were smacking them.”
Pryor completed 12 of 27 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown, but where he really hurt the Hurricanes was with his scrambling ability. He carried 20 times for 113 yards and a touchdown, and scrambled three times for first downs late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Meanwhile, Harris was pressured relentlessly by the OSU defense but still managed to complete 22 of 39 attempts for 232 yards and one TD. He was picked four times, though, matching a career-high he set last season in a 33-24 loss to North Carolina.
Most of the fireworks generated by the Hurricanes came from special teams. Redshirt freshman Lamar Miller returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter to give his team a 7-3 lead at the time, and junior Travis Benjamin took a punt back 79 yards late in the second quarter to put his team within three points.
In the end, however, it was the Ohio State defense that kept Miami on his heels. Senior cornerback Chimdi Chekwa had two interceptions while defensive ends Nathan Williams and Cameron Heyward had once each.
Both of Chekwa’s picks and the one by Williams set up field goals for OSU while Heyward’s interception came at a most opportune time. As the Hurricanes were headed for looked to be a touchdown early in the third quarter that could have made the score 26-24 in favor of the Buckeyes, Heyward intercepted Harris at the 5-yard line and returned it 80 yards the other way.
Two plays later, Pryor scored a touchdown to push his team’s lead to 16 points.
In addition to Pryor, the Buckeyes got a lot of production from Barclay, whose five field goals tied the school record for most three-pointers in one game. The mark was established by Bob Atha in 1981 during a 29-10 win over Indiana. It was equaled by Mike Nugent in a 22-14 win over North Carolina State in 2004 and again by Josh Huston in the Buckeyes’ 25-22 loss to Texas in 2006.
The Buckeyes drew first blood with a 24-yard field goal from Barclay at the 5:57 mark of the first quarter to take a 3-0 lead, but Miami wasted no time with its answer. Miller took the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, and following a PAT from kicker Matt Bosher, the Hurricanes enjoyed a 7-3 advantage with 5:45 left in the opening period.
Miami made it 10-3 early in the second quarter on Bosher’s 51-yard field goal, but the Buckeyes came roaring back. Pryor connected with junior receiver DeVier Posey on a 62-yard bomb and then hit senior running back Brandon Saine on a wheel route good for 18 yards and a touchdown. Barclay added the extra point to tie the score at 10 with 12:23 left in the second quarter.
Barclay nailed a 41-yard field goal to push OSU back into the lead at 13-10 with 7:03 left until halftime and then Dan “Boom” Herron took a 4-yard pitch into the end zone to make it 20-10 with 6:17 to go until to the break.
But the Hurricanes got back into it courtesy of Benjamin’s 79-yard punt return, and once Bosher added the PAT, Miami had cut its deficit to 20-17 with 3:04 left in the half.
The Buckeyes got two more excellent scoring chances before intermission, both thanks to interceptions by Chekwa. But Ohio State failed to fully cash in on either, settling for 21- and 24-yard field goals from Barclay to head into the locker room with a 26-17 halftime lead.
Harris quickly moved the Hurricanes into scoring position with the opening drive of the third quarter, but on third-and-goal at the Ohio State 9, he was picked off by Heyward who rumbled 80 yards with the turnovers. Two plays later, Pryor rolled to his right and then suddenly reversed field before racing untouched to the end zone on a 13-yard score.
Barclay’s PAT made it 33-17 in favor of the Buckeyes with 10:16 remaining in the third period.
Miami came right back with Harris engineering a 14-play, 47-yard drive that ate more than 8½ minutes off the clock. But it was all for naught when the OSU defense held and Bosher’s 39-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Buckeye defender Devon Torrence.
Barclay’s fifth field goal of the contest came at the 1:29 mark of the third quarter and padded the Buckeyes’ lead to 36-17.
Harris went back to work and drove his team 60 yards in seven plays, topping things off with a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chase Ford. Bosher’s PAT cut the Hurricanes’ deficit to 36-23, and when Barclay pulled his 32-yard field goal attempt wide left at the 11:25 mark of the fourth quarter, Miami appeared to have hope.
But the Hurricanes got only as far as the OSU 39 before Harris’ fourth-down pass sailed over the head of his intended receiver. The Buckeyes took over possession at the 7:31 mark, and thanks to Pryor converting a pair of third downs as well as a fourth-and-1, Miami never got the ball back.
Ohio State (2-0) returns to next Saturday when the Buckeyes host Ohio University (1-0). The Bobcats, which won their season opener 33-10 over Division I-AA Wofford, were scheduled to open Mid-American Conference play tonight at home against Toledo.
The Big Ten Network will have coverage of next week’s contest with kickoff set for just after noon Eastern.