Tampa Bay Sports Day

FAU: Owls Drop Football Opener to No. 5 Ohio State, 45-21

COLUMBUS, Ohio – No. 5 Ohio State (1-0) scored 28 first-quarter points on its way to a 45-21 win over Florida Atlantic (0-1) in the season opener for both schools Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

“Two different games,” said FAU head coach Lane Kiffin. “Obviously we started off very poor, (to) start 28-0 like that in a half of a quarter, (played) about as bad as you can in all phases of the game. Then, (we) played a lot better after that, 21-17 we outscored them. Obviously that’s not a moral victory, but that does show our players. If we do things right, especially defensively … their starters were still in (and) our defense did a really good job after that.”

Justin Fields, a sophomore transfer QB from Georgia, threw for four touchdowns and ran for another score in his Ohio State debut. He completed 18-of-25 passes for 234 yards. Eight Buckeyes caught at least one pass with Chris Olave (5 rec.) and Jeremy Ruckert (4) leading the way. Two of Ruckert’s catches were for scores.

Ohio State built a 28-0 first-quarter lead behind three touchdown passes and a rushing score by sophomore quarterback Justin Fields. The Buckeyes had 220 yards of total offense over the first 15 minutes while Florida Atlantic was held to -4 yards.

Fields completed 7-of-9 passes for 115 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 54 yards and one score.

Florida Atlantic started the second yards half with the ball. The Owls came out throwing, driving to the Ohio State 10 before Vladimir Rivas kicked a 28-yard field goal to make it 28-6 Buckeyes.

FAU true freshman Larry McCammon punched it from three yards, and QB Chris Robison hit John Mitchell for a wide-open two-point conversion to make it 35-14.

Robison got his first TD pass of the day, a three-yard completion to John Raine. Rivas’ extra point pulled the Owls back to within three scores 42-21. Robison made good on 65 percent of his past attempts (22-for-34) for 178 yards.

Ohio State scored for the fifth time in the game on a 3-yard TD pass to Ruckert with 2:37 left in the quarter. The score put the Buckeyes up 35-6. The scoring drive covered 52 yards on 10 plays (3:27). It was the fourth touchdown pass for Fields and it was Ruckert’s second scoring catch of the game.

The Owls kick off the 2019 home slate in a week’s time, hosting UCF (currently ranked No. 17) at 7 p.m. next Saturday at FAU Stadium.

GAME NOTES: FAU (0-1) won the toss but deferred. Ohio State (1-0) needed four plays on the opening drive, with a 51-yard run for the score…Harrison Bryant and John Raine led all receivers on the day in catches with six, and Bryant paced all players in receiving yards with 79…Tavaris Harrison added four receptions for 57….defensively Rashad Smith was in double digits with a game-high tally of tackles on either side, with 11, seven of which were solo…. Da’Von Brown was next with eight, while Quran Hafiz added seven….Akileis Leroy had six stops, a sack and tackle for loss, plus the forced fumble…Matt Hayball averaged 47.2 yards per punt, including the longest of 70 yards.