It was a slow start for both sides in the first quarter. Ohio State started with the ball with redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett leading the charge. Barrett started off solid all things considered, completing a short pass to Devin Smith for 14 yards and had a well-placed ball for Dontre Wilson, but Wilson couldn't hold on to it. After a run of no gain by Ezekiel Elliott, Barrett rushed for 7 yards before the Buckeyes had to punt on their opening possession.
After a few plays early in the drive, Ohio State's defense, led by defensive linemen Michael Bennett and Joey Bosa, stiffened and forced the Midshipmen to punt, giving the Buckeyes the ball at the 43-yard line. Ohio State then went to the ground game and found success with runs from Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall before a holding call on third down would push the Buckeyes back to Navy's 45-yard line. From there, Barrett completed a pass to Dontre Wilson for 8 yards, setting up freshman kicker Sean Nuernberger, who connected on a 46-yard field goal putting the Buckeyes up 3-0 with 4:26 left in the first quarter.
Navy, led by quarterback Keenan Reynolds, would find plenty of space to run the football with their triple option attack. Wide receiver Ryan Williams-Jenkins took the first handoff of the drive for 11 yards and a first down. From there, Reynolds broke free for a 24-yard scamper before throwing it up to Brandon Colon for 17 yards. After forcing the ball down the throat of the Buckeyes defense, the Midshipmen were on the goal line before three straight stops brought up 4th and goal.
Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo then decided to roll the dice and go for it, electing to pitch the ball outside, where DeBrandon Sanders was met with two Ohio State defenders at the goal line, but was able to stretch for the pylon. After a review of the play, where it seemed Sanders' knee could have been down out of bounds before the ball hit the pylon, the call stood, and the Midshipmen took the 7-3 lead over the Buckeyes with 14:04 remaining in the second quarter.
A quick three and out by the Buckeyes after J.T. Barrett failed to complete two attempted passes to Curtis Samuel gave Navy the ball back, but the teams would end up trading possessions. Fast forwarding to the 6:02 mark in the second quarter, Ohio State would seemingly find a groove, once again attacking the Midshipmen on the ground with consecutive runs from true freshman Curtis Samuel of 8 and 11. Barrett would use his legs to run for a first down and the Buckeyes found themselves in scoring position. Following a Wilson 8-yard run, Ohio State's offense would stall, forcing another field goal from Neurnberger, this time from 28-yards out.
Holding a 7-6 lead with 2:04 left to play in the first half, Navy would drive all the way to the Ohio State 18-yard line before setting up for a 36-yard field goal that would sail to the right, effectively ending the first half with a 7-6 lead for the Midshipmen.
To start the second half, Navy continued their success with the triple option as Geoffrey Whiteside carried the ball for 15 yards followed by back-to-back runs of 20 and 5 yards by Williams-Jenkins. Two plays later, Joey Bosa would blow through Navy's offensive line to force a bad option pitch from Reynolds before Buckeye linebacker Darron Lee would scoop the fumbled pitch and score to put Ohio State ahead 13-7 with 14:08 remaining in the third quarter.
Despite the momentum switch, Navy took it in stride as Ryan Williams-Jenkins found a seam through Ohio State's defense on the first play of the ensuing possession for 67 yards to the Ohio State 17-yard line. DeBrandon Sanders would then take the handoff for 13 yards to the Ohio State 4-yard line. Two plays later, Reynolds would take a quarterback sneak into the endzone, putting the Midshipmen back up 14-13 with 11:15 remaining in the third quarter and putting Reynolds in the history books as having the third most rushing touchdowns in school history with 42. Navy had 261 yards on the ground compared to the Buckeyes 66 at that point in the game.
Taking the field on offense for the first time in the second half, J.T. Barrett and the Buckeyes would start off a bit shaky. Dontre Wilson took the first handoff, but lost a yard. On 2nd and 11, Michael Thomas would make a 22-yard reception from Barrett for a first down. Rod Smith would take his first carry of the game for three yards before Elliott would take a third down carry and come up short. On fourth down, the Buckeyes would try and hurry up with a handoff to Elliott, but the Midshipmen would stuff Elliott behind the line.
Navy would go to work in Ohio State territory and after a first down, Darron Lee would slam Reynolds for a sack, but a Demond Brown run would rush for another first down. Adolphus Washington would come up with another tackle for loss on Reynolds making it 2nd and 12. A failed play action call would result in a Curtis Grant sack, forcing third and long. Navy would call a timeout facing a 3rd and 23 with 4:32 remaining in the third quarter. An incomplete pass to Jamir Tillman would bring up 4th down and after a delay of game, the Midshipmen would punt it for a touchback.
Ohio State started their second drive of the half on their own 25-yard line. It didn't take long for the Buckeyes to break the game open as J.T. Barrett found a wide open Devin Smith for an 80-yard touchdown reception for only Smith's second reception of the game. After the extra point, Ohio State regained the lead 20-14 over Navy with 4:10 left in the third quarter.
Staying true to form, Navy stayed collected and went to work with consecutive runs of 12, 10, and 16 yards. On first down at Ohio State's 46-yard line Demond Brown would rush for 7 yards followed by a barrage of more rushes from Navy's Chris Swain and Toneo Gulley before DeBrandon Sanders would lose the ball but recover for a 2-yard loss at the Ohio State 15-yard line to end the third quarter.
Facing 3rd and 12, Reynolds would run the option before Armani Reeves would bring him down. The Midshipmen would then kick a 32-yard field goal on 4th and 9 to cut Ohio State's lead to 20-17 with 13:54 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Starting at their own 20-yard line, the Buckeyes would ride on the shoulders of Curtis Samuel to start the drive. On second down, Samuel would rush right up the middle for 14 yards, followed by another 11-yard gain. A few plays later, facing a 4th and 1, coach Meyer would elect to go for it again at the 45-yard line. A handoff to Ezekiel Elliott up the middle would prove to be enough, extending the drive.
Navy would spend their final timeout to challenge the spot of Elliott's fourth down conversion as Ohio State would continue their drive with 9:53 remaining in the game. The next play, Barrett would find Evan Spencer for a first down, followed by a first down run by Dontre Wilson who was a broken tackle away from breaking free. Ezekiel Elliott would finish off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run right up the middle thanks to great blocks from Jacoby Boren and Billy Price to give Ohio State a 27-17 lead with 8:54 left to play.
Two short runs by the Midshipmen would bring up 3rd and 4 where Reynolds would run the option but was met with a flock of Ohio State defenders, bringing up 4th and 3. Navy was forced to punt and the Buckeyes took over at their own 30-yard line.
A 6-yard run by Dontre Wilson followed by a 19-yard scramble from J.T. Barrett would lead to a Buckeye first down as Ohio State began playing keep away to try and work the clock. Facing 3rd and 11, Barrett would run a quarterback draw for 15 yards to keep the clock rolling and move the chains.
A short time later, J.T. Barrett would find Michael Thomas for nine yards as the Buckeyes added to their lead, 34-17. With 2:09 left to play, Navy would get the ball and run the final minutes off the clock to secure Ohio State's victory.
J.T. Barrett finished with a solid line of 12/15, 226 yards, 2 touchdown, 1 interception and added 50 yards on 9 carries on the ground.