Gray Runs To Win In Spring Game

Using an opportunistic defense that made some key stops and a solid running game, Gray bested Scarlet in Ohio State's annual spring game Saturday afternoon. Read on for a first recap including stats, observations and more.

With two young quarterbacks taking snaps, Ohio State's annual spring game was not expected to be about offense, but both Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett had nice moments as the Gray came back for a 17-7 victory Saturday afternoon in front of 61,058 fans in Ohio Stadium.

The pass-heavy exhibition ended with Barrett having slightly better stats, as he completed 17 of 33 passes for 151 yards, no TDs and no interceptions. Jones also finished without a TD or INT, going 14 for 31 for 142 yards, most of those coming in the second half. Jones also ran for 28 yards while Barrett had 21.

The scrimmage stars were likely Gray running backs Warren Ball and Brionte Dunn, with Ball rushing eight times for 55 yards and a score, while Dunn had six totes for 35 yards and a TD. Curtis Samuel had six rushes for 11 yards and was stuffed on a key fourth-and-goal, while Ezekiel Elliott ran three times for 16 yards.

Barrett seemed to have chemistry with Michael Thomas, completing six passes to the 2012 spring game star for 64 yards. Tight end Nick Vannett added four grabs for 35 yards, though he couldn't hold on to a high pass from Barrett in the end zone early in the game that would've been six. On the Scarlet side, Corey Smith led the way with five grabs for 72 yards.

Defensively, Gray stars included Raekwon McMillan, Joe Burger and Tyquan Lewis, who each had five tackles. Lewis also made a pair of sacks and looked good on the edge. On the Scarlet side, Rashad Frazier had two sacks – including a strip sack that led to a TD – while Christopher Worley had a team-best nine tackles and Nik Sarac broke up a pass and had five stops.

The day started unimpressively for Gray, which did force a punt on Scarlet's opening series, but that led to disaster. Bryce Haynes downed Cameron Johnston's punt at the 2 – a nice callback to the 2013 season for both – and on the very first play, defensive end Rashad Frazier came off the edge and hit Barrett, forcing the ball loose. Frazier also fell on the ball to give Scarlet a quick lead of a TD, though no extra point was attempted.

Gray bounced back, though, with its defense leading the way. Scarlet was held to punts on the next three drives, allowing the Gray team to battle back.

On its third drive, Gray took over at its own 48 and moved 33 yards, 30 of it coming on consecutive passes from Barrett to Thomas for 20 yards and Dixon for 10 to start the drive. Eventually, the drive stalled, and Kyle Clinton missed a 36-yard field goal, but Sean Nuernberger came on to make it and three points were awarded to Gray.

That opened the first period of field goal kicking on the day, with Clinton also missing from 42 yards before Nuernberger made from that far.

Gray's next drive also ended in points, this one a 15-play, 80-yard jaunt. Barrett ripped off a 20-yard run to get things going, and Dunn had rushes of 7, 6 and 13 yards before going over the line to gain from 2 yards out with 7:36 to play to make it a 10-7 game.

Both kickers were given a chance to make the extra point – they did each convert – before another field goal period. Clinton made from 37 and 47 but left a pair of 52-yarders short, while Nuernberger make from 37, made and missed from 42 and drilled a 52-yard try to move to 5 of 6 on the day.

At the end of the first half, Gray had outgained Scarlet by a 189-44 margin, with Barrett going 15 of 27 for 112 yards and also rushing for 13 yards, while Ball led the way with 34 yards rushing on four tries. Jones was 6 of 15 for 7 yards.

He rectified that early in the second half when he threw a perfect rainbow that hit Kato Mitchell in stride along the left sideline for 27 yards, but Scarlet stalled and on fourth-and-goal Curtis Samuel ran into the teeth of the defense and was stopped by Lewis and McMillan short of the line.

Another chance for Scarlet to take the lead went by the wayside when a run by Corey Smith ended it a turnover. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Smith raced for the front corner of the end zone but fumbled the ball as he attempted to stretch it across the goal line, leaving the ball to bounce out of bounds for a touchback.

Gray from there went down the field and pushed the ball in with 4:30 to play after a nine-play, 80-yard drive that included a 24-yard completion from Barrett to Vannett. Ball went through the line unimpeded for a 3-yard TD, which was followed by matching PATs by Clinton and Nuernberger. Clinton then made a 47-yard field goal that was followed by a make of the same distance by Nuernberger.

Scarlet attempted to rally, using both Jones and Stephen Collier on the next drive, but time expired as Jones threw toward the end zone on the final play.

A number of OSU regulars, including the injured Braxton Miller, Evan Spencer, Doran Grant and Jeff Heuerman did not play, and veterans Taylor Decker, Michael Bennett, Joey Bosa and Joshua Perry were also held out. Jamal Marcus and Rod Smith – who Meyer said Tuesday were not practicing because of academic issues – also did not take part.

Miller watched the entire game from behind center, where he stood with Meyer and Meyer's son Nate as well as OSU staffers throughout the day.

At halftime, the first Fastest Buckeye competition included Grant edging the field.

Three stars:
--Scarlet CB Eli Apple: Had two pass breakups and showed physical play throughout
--Scarlet LB Chris Worley: Had a game-high number of tackles and looked good in the open field
--Gray RB Warren Ball: Continued to show he can be a dependable do-it-all back.

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