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CONFERENCES COACHING CHANGES TRANSACTIONS GAMING MATCHUP CURRENT ODDS
(Saturday, September 5th)
Final Score: (6) Ohio State 31, Navy 27
Columbus, OH (Sports Network) - Brian Rolle's interception return of a two- point conversion attempt denied Navy a tie game and helped sixth-ranked Ohio State pull out a 31-27 victory in the season-opener at the Horseshoe.
Navy was trying to tie the game with a two-point conversion after scoring a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to erase a 29-14 deficit. Ricky Dobbs, who threw an 85-yard touchdown pass and ran 24 yards for another score in the fourth quarter, went back to pass on the two-point attempt with 2:23 remaining. Dobbs picked the ball off at the goal line and raced up the left sideline to the end zone for a four-point swing.
After an onsides kick went out of bounds, Ohio State took over and ran out the remaining time to avoid the upset.
The Buckeyes (1-0), coming off a 10-3 season in 2008 that included a share of the Big Ten title for a fourth straight year and a loss to Texas in the Fiesta Bowl, won their 31st consecutive home opener. However, it was anything but an easy tuneup for next week's showdown with Southern California.
"It was a great football game and we have to tip our cap to the young men from the United States Naval Academy," said Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel. "We knew they would fight to the last play and they did just that. We gave them a little help along the way in that fourth quarter, did some things that obviously you wish you could have back."
Navy (0-1), which led the nation in rushing for a fourth consecutive season in 2008, racked up 186 yards on the ground with its famed option attack. The Midshipmen were 8-5 last year and lost to Wake Forest in the EagleBank Bowl.
Dobbs ran for 83 yards on 18 attempts and completed 9-of-13 passes for 156 yards with a pair of scores in defeat. He also threw an interception and fumbled once as part of four Navy turnovers.
"Turnovers killed us," said Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo. "In camp, we focused on taking care of the ball, but when you turn the ball over four times you aren't going to win any games. That sums up our game - turnovers."
Terrelle Pryor connected on 14-of-21 throws for 174 yards with a touchdown and added 30 yards with a score on six carries for the Buckeyes. Dan Herron also ran for a touchdown and 72 yards on 17 carries in the victory.
Ohio State appeared set to put the game away with a 29-14 lead after an interception of Dobbs near midfield with 9:31 remaining. However, the Buckeyes elected to try for a first down on 4th-and-2 at the Navy 15, and Herron was stopped short.
On the very next play, Dobbs hit Marcus Curry in stride near midfield and the receiver outraced the Ohio State secondary to the end zone for an 85-yard score to make it an eight-point game with 6:15 to play.
"It was a poor decision," said Tressel about his decision to not kick the field goal. "We didn't put it to three scores and that was a poor decision on my part."
Pryor then had a tipped pass picked off and Dobbs converted the turnover with a 24-yard run for a touchdown to make it a two-point game before the ill-fated two-point try.
The Midshipmen kept up with the Buckeyes throughout the contest, as Ohio State outgained Navy, 363-342.
Ohio State took the opening kickoff and started from the Navy 49 after a good return and needed just six plays to reach the end zone. Pryor found DeVier Posey for nine yards on 3rd-and-8 to keep the drive alive, then connected with Dane Sanzenbacher on a crossing route for a 38-yard score.
Undeterred, Navy marched 80 yards the other way for the tying touchdown. The Midshipmen went to the air on the first two plays, the second pass producing a first down, then followed with the customary ground attack. Eleven straight rushes, including a trio of third-down conversions, left Navy at the Ohio State 16. After a second-down pass fell incomplete, Dobbs took a quarterback draw into the end zone on the 15th play of the drive to tie it.
The Buckeyes answered with a 23-yard field goal from Aaron Pettrey, then took advantage of a Dobbs fumble early in the second quarter and drove 56 yards for a score. Pryor capped the seven-play march with a two-yard run for a touchdown and a 17-7 lead with 9:01 left in the first half.
Pettrey added a 25-yard field goal in the final minute to send the Buckeyes into the break with a 13-point cushion.
The Midshipmen used another lengthy drive in the third quarter to pull within six. Starting from their own one, Dobbs engineered a 15-play series that ate up nearly 10 minutes and capped it with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Curry with just 1:24 left in the period.
Ohio State followed with a drive just far enough for a 52-yard Pettrey field goal, extending the lead just 49 seconds into the fourth quarter, then recovered a Navy fumble at the Buckeye 30-yard line moments later and converted the turnover into a Herron six-yard touchdown run to make it 29-14 after the extra point failed.
Ohio State hasn't lost a home opener since falling to Penn State in 1978...Navy fell to 0-4 all-time against Ohio State. The teams hadn't met since the 1981 Liberty Bowl.
09/05 17:16:50 ET