Michael Thomas

Lee, D bail out No. 1 Ohio St in 20-13 win over N Illinois

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Darron Lee returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown and the Ohio State defense bailed out its struggling, two-quarterback offense as the top-ranked Buckeyes beat Northern Illinois 20-13 on Saturday.

Cardale Jones started for the Buckeyes (3-0) and J.T. Barrett finished, but for the second straight week neither was particularly effective against an opponent Ohio State was expected to blow out.

Jones threw two interceptions and went to the bench in the second quarter. Barrett threw a touchdown pass and a pick. Ohio State had five turnovers in all but still managed to extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 16 games.

Last week, the Buckeyes shook free of Hawaii in the second half, but they couldn’t do the same with Northern Illinois (2-1).

The Huskies cut the lead to 20-13 on a field goal with 7:46 left in the fourth quarter, and got the ball back when Marlon Moore forced a fumble by Curtis Samuel and NIU recovered at its own 25 with 4:05 left in the game.

The Buckeyes clamped down again with Joey Bosa and Sam Hubbard crunching Drew Hare for a sack on third-and-long. In need of one first down to wrap it up, Ohio State came up short.

NIU’s last drive started at its 20 with 1:34 left, but Hare threw four incomplete passes under duress and Ohio State could finally take a knee.

The big question heading into the season for Ohio State was who would start at quarterback: The Big Ten player of the year (Barrett) or the guy who led the Buckeyes to the national championship (Jones).

The answer turned out to be Jones, but coach Urban Meyer insisted both guys would play and they did in the first two games.

The next question was: What would happen if Jones struggled? How much patience would Meyer have with his starter?

The answer appears to be: Not all that much.

Jones misfired on his first pass of the game and appeared upset with receiver Jalin Marshall. Jones’ next throw was too high to an open Braxton Miller and picked off by Shawn Lurry, who returned it to the Buckeyes 22.

Three plays later Aregeros Turner swept around right end for a touchdown that made it 7-0.

Ezekiel Elliott fumbled the ball away on a fourth-and-short on Ohio State’s next possession, but Eli Apple intercepted right back for the Buckeyes and they turned it into a field goal.

Lurry snagged another pass from Jones, this time one he was trying to squeeze in between defenders when he had an open receiver underneath, in the second quarter. That led to a Huskies field goal and got Barrett warming up on the sideline.

Barrett’s first possession was a three-and-out, but on his second he connected with Michael Thomas on a 23-yeard touchdown pass to tie the game at 10 with 8:21 left in the second quarter.

Northern Illinois had beaten the last three Big Ten teams it has faced. The Buckeyes were a big step up from Iowa, Purdue and Northwestern – or at least it seemed that way.

The defending Mid-American Conference champions hung tough with the defending national champions, despite generating only 190 yards and 10 first downs.

Barrett started the second half and led a steady drive that stalled in the red zone, but Jack Willoughby booted a 23-yard field goal to give the Buckeyes their first lead of the day at 13-10.

The Ohio State defense finally took matters upon themselves. Lee jumped a quick pass to the sideline, picked it off, stiff-armed one Huskie and then ran away from another he outweighs by about 60 pounds. The linebacker’s touchdown made it 20-10 with 1:44 left in the third. The nervous tension at Ohio State was released – temporarily.


Hokies lose Brewer for 4-8 weeks with broken collarbone

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) It was the injury Virginia Tech could least afford, and when the news that quarterback Michael Brewer was lost for four to eight weeks because of a broken collarbone, offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler needed to collect himself.

“I put that kid through hell, and he played his tail off today,” Loeffler said of the senior, who transferred to Virginia Tech from Texas Tech before last season. “I said this to our team: `You can sit, you can feel sorry for yourself, you can do this.’ We’re going to rally around (Brenden) Motley.”

Brewer was injured when a 290-pound lineman hit and landed on him as he let go of a pass, and Motley struggled to get anything going until it was too late in the Hokies’ 42-24 loss to No. 1 Ohio State on Monday night.

The Hokies had just fallen behind 21-17, but had driven into Ohio State territory when Brewer got hurt.

The opportunity to feel sorry for themselves didn’t last long in Loeffler’s mind.

“We had a misfortunate thing occur to us today, but no one cares,” he said. “No one cares out there that Michael Brewer put in great time and he got hurt, so what we’re going to do is we’re going to rally around Motley, we’re going to develop a guy behind him in our room … and we’re going to find a way to win.”

Brewer was 11 of 16 for 156 yards with two touchdowns. Motley, more of a dual-threat quarterback, was 4 of 9 for 36 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also ran the ball seven times for 17 yards.

The Hokies wish they had a guy like Braxton Miller waiting in the wings.

Miller scored two touchdowns, including an electrifying 53-yard run, in his first game at wide receiver. The two-time Big Ten offensive player of the year, who missed last year after injuring his right throwing shoulder, was playing his first game at wide receiver. He made the position switch to ease a logjam at quarterback.

Cardale Jones, whose status as the starting quarterback wasn’t known until he came out for the first offensive series, threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as Ohio State avenged a 35-21 home loss last season.

Miller had a 54-yard touchdown reception to erase a 17-14 halftime deficit. Then he had a dazzling spin move on his long scoring run that lifted the Buckeyes to a 28-17 lead with 2:05 left in the third.

Jones added a 10-yard TD run in the fourth, and Barrett, who started for Ohio State until he was injured late in the season last year, threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Michael Thomas with 8:14 remaining.

The Buckeyes got off to a fast start, but the Hokies battled back.

Curtis Samuel made a great adjustment to haul in a 24-yard touchdown reception from Jones, and Ezekiel Elliott had an 80-yard scoring run, all in the first 10 minutes.

Virginia Tech responded with 17 straight points. Sam Rogers took a short pass from Brewer 51 yards for the Hokies’ first touchdown. Virginia Tech then used an interception to set up a field goal and a fumbled punt to set up a go-ahead touchdown 15 seconds before halftime on Brewer’s second touchdown pass.

Motley finished the Hokies’ scoring with a late 17-yard pass to Isaiah Ford.