Big plays carried Ohio State on Saturday as the fifth-ranked Buckeyes used an 80-yard touchdown catch from Devin Smith and a 61-yard fumble return for a score from Darron Lee to escape M&T Bank Stadium with a 34-17 win against Navy.
With Ohio State trailing, 14-13, redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett delivered a throw over the top to a wide open Smith, who took it the rest of the way to give the Buckeyes a 20-14 edge. It was a play that seemed to break the spirit of the Midshipmen.
From that point, Ezekiel Elliot added a 10-yard touchdown run and Michael Thomas scored on a 9-yard touchdown catch from Barrett to cap the Buckeyes' scoring.
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Lee's 61-yard fumble return for a score seemed to give Ohio State the momentum early in the second half, but Navy responded with a four-play scoring drive that was highlighted by a 67-yard scamper from Ryan Williams-Jenkins.
In his first start, Barrett was efficient, going 12 for 15 for 226 yards and two touchdowns. He did throw one interception in the first half. He also rushed for 50 yards on nine carries.
Elliot gained 44 yards on the ground for the Buckeyes, while Curtis Samuel had 45 and Dontre Wilson collected 43.
Ohio State trailed Navy at halftime, 7-6. The Buckeyes were held without a first-half touchdown for the first time in the Urban Meyer era as their only first-half points came on a pair of Sean Nuernberger field goals.