Scarlet Sinks Gray 31-14 on Banks of Ohio River
By Tony Gerdeman
CINCINNATI, Ohio — By coach's rule, Braxton Miller couldn't be tackled, but it was the Scarlet offense he was leading that was truly untouchable.
Despite playing four shortened quarters of ten minutes a piece, Miller directed four scoring drives on the afternoon, capping two of them with touchdown passes and adding a five-yard scamper into the corner of the endzone for a third touchdown.
He finished the game 16-25 passing for 217 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked seven times, however, thanks to the fact that he was sporting a black jersey and only needed to be touched to be tackled.
Miller got the game started with a deep completion to Evan Spencer for 49 yards on the first play from scrimmage. Miller then finished the drive with a perfectly floated pass to Devin Smith for a 20-yard touchdown in the corner of the endzone.
"Evan ran a great route," Philly Brown said of the game's first play.
"We knew that was going to be the call. We knew we were going to take a shot on the first play. I watched Evan’s route on the replay and he set the corner up and got open and made a play."
Gray tied the game up at 7-7 in the second quarter with a five-yard touchdown pass from Kenny Guiton to Chris Fields. Earlier in the drive Guiton found Michael Thomas for 31 yards, with the majority of those yards coming when Thomas made the first two tacklers miss as he wove his way through defensive traffic.
Scarlet ended the first half with a Miller touchdown pass to Philly Brown from three yards out to make it 14-7. Miller fired a back-shoulder pass to Brown, who was able to catch it despite tight coverage from Doran Grant.
"The play depends on how the corner defends it," Miller said. "If he's over the top, it's a back-shoulder throw. We work on that all the time. It worked out pretty well."
Miller continued his stellar play in the second half, finding Smith streaking across the field for a 42-yard completion, and getting the ball down to the five-yard line. Miller would score two plays later to make it 21-7.
Despite the Scarlet offense moving the ball almost at will, they found themselves moving backwards quite a few times thanks to the pass rush of Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington. Washington led the Buckeyes with four sacks, and Spence was right behind him with three.
"Adolphus Washington has really raised his level of play," Urban Meyer said. "He’s a legitimate player as a starter at Ohio State. We saw him today just have his way with the offensive line. He could be a very good player."
"Noah Spence and Adolphus work hard," added Braxton Miller. "They have to fill big shoes from the guys who left last year, and they proved we have to keep working at the right tackle position."
It was expected that right tackles Taylor Decker and Chase Farris would have issues in the game, and that is exactly what happened. The positive for the Buckeyes is that despite such constant pressure, Miller looked comfortable working against it, or at least as comfortable as Miller can look when he's strongly encouraged not to take off.
"Obviously he’s not trying to run," explained Philly Brown, "because he would have probably scored on a couple of those."
Gray would cut the lead to 24-14 in the fourth quarter as redshirt freshman quarterback Cardale Jones led a 65-yard touchdown drive, finishing it with a four-yard touchdown pass to Michael Thomas, who made a leaping catch in the back of the endzone. Thomas finished the game with seven receptions for 79 yards.
Scarlet answered right back, now piloted by Kenny Guiton, and matched the Gray with a 65-yard touchdown drive of their own. Chris Fields scored his second touchdown of the day, this time on a misdirection end around from six yards out, making it 31-14.
Fields, who ended up playing for both teams, finished with five catches for 37 yards, and two carries for nine yards from his H-back spot. He has been listed as Jordan Hall's backup this spring, but Meyer said that he has now worked his way into the starting lineup.
"Chris Fields, I'm going to name him a starter today," Meyer said. "I told him I would if he finished the spring. Chris Fields has earned a starting spot on the offense, which is amazing. He's a wonderful guy that last year was very inconstent. I know Tom Herman feels the same way. So he's earned a starting spot."
Guiton also played for both teams, finishing 13-22 passing for 151 yards and a touchdown. Cardale Jones had a rough outing, fumbling twice and throwing an interception. He ended up completing 7-16 passes for 65 yards. He did look impressive at times running the ball, as he finished with 37 yards on eight carries.
Middle linebacker Curtis Grant led both teams with 10 tackles, which included a sack of Braxton Miller as well.
The most important news of the day, however, was that no injuries took place during the game, and the Buckeyes left the game as healthy as they entered it.
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