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BLACKSBURG (hokiesports.com) – Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones threw two touchdown passes and rushed for 99 yards, as the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes rallied from a small halftime deficit to defeat Virginia Tech 42-24 at Lane Stadium on Monday night.
Jones, who got the starting job over J.T. Barrett, had a touchdown pass and a touchdown run in the second half, helping the Buckeyes avenge last season’s 35-21 loss to the Hokies in Columbus, Ohio. Behind Jones, Ohio State amassed 572 yards of total offense.
“I believe our team is better than what the score was tonight,” Tech coach Frank Beamer said. “But we’ve got work to do. We gave up too many long plays and too much lack of execution. We’ve got work to do. I give them credit and they deserve credit. We’ll start working to get a little bit better, and I feel like we will be.”
Worse than the loss, the Hokies received bad news when quarterback Michael Brewer fractured his collarbone in the third quarter. He will undergo surgery on Tuesday and miss at least 4-6 weeks, perhaps eight.
Tech trailed 14-0, but rallied to take a 17-14 lead at halftime, scoring three second-quarter touchdowns. A 51-yard touchdown pass from Brewer to Sam Rogers got the Hokies on the board, and Tech cut the lead to 14-10 on Joey Slye’s 46-yard field goal. Tech then took the lead on a 1-yard pass from Brewer to tight end Ryan Malleck with 15 seconds left in the first half.
Ohio State, though, quickly grabbed the lead in the second half, scoring on a 54-yard pass from Jones to Braxton Miller, a quarterback who missed last season because of an injury and was moved to receiver this past spring. On the ensuing possession, Brewer took a shot while attempting a pass and had to be helped from the field.
“I feel for Michael,” Beamer said. “He put so much into it. Throwing this week, I had never seen him throw the ball better. He’s hitting guys on the dead run and they were getting yardage afterward. To put so much into it … he’s done for a while, and I feel for him. But you have to step up.”
After Brewer’s injury, the Hokies didn’t amount much in the way of offense behind untested backup Brenden Motley – playing in just his sixth collegiate game. Tech amassed just 77 yards of offense after Brewer left the game, though Motley did throw a touchdown pass late in the game to Isaiah Ford.
Miller gave the Buckeyes a 28-17 lead on a 53-yard touchdown run with 2:05 left in the third quarter. Jones’ 10-yard touchdown run with 12:26 left in the game essentially put the game away.
Jones completed 9 of 18 for 186 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 122 yards on 11 carries, including an 80-yard touchdown run, and Miller rushed for 62 yards on six carries and a touchdown. He also caught two passes for 72 yards and a score.
“He’s one tremendous athlete,” Beamer said of Miller. “He was running down the sideline there and we missed him – and he did some stuff to make us miss. I’d rather see him over there battling at quarterback for playing time. We’d have been better off.”
Brewer completed 11 of 16 for 156 yards and two touchdowns for the Hokies. Motley completed 4 of 9 for 36 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.
Tech now gets ready to take on Furman next Saturday at Lane Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.