Ohio State staves off Washington in Urban Meyer’s last game as coach

PASADENA — Dwayne Haskins passed for 251 yards and three touchdowns on Tuesday, and Urban Meyer finished his coaching career at Ohio State with a 28-23 victory after the Buckeyes held off Washington’s fourth-quarter comeback in the 105th Rose Bowl.

Parris Campbell, Johnnie Dixon and Rashod Berry caught TD passes in the first half for the Buckeyes (13-1), who took a 25-point lead into the fourth.

Washington (10-4) made it interesting as Myles Gaskin threw a touchdown pass and rushed for two scores, including a 2-yard touchdown run with 42 seconds left. The Buckeyes intercepted Jake Browning’s pass on the two-point conversion attempt and then recovered an onside kick to wrap up the final game of Meyer’s seven-year tenure.

“I’m a very blessed man,” Meyer said. “I’m blessed because of my family, (but) this team, this year, I love this group as much as any I’ve ever had.”

Meyer, 54, is walking away after going 83-9 at Ohio State with one national championship, three Big Ten titles and this Rose Bowl victory, the Buckeyes’ eighth in the Granddaddy of Them All.

Meyer cited his health last month in his decision to step down. A cyst in Meyer’s brain causes severe headaches that are made worse by his high-stress job.

After this nail-biting finish in Pasadena, it’s easy to see why anyone might need a break from college football.

After USC’s win over Penn State and Georgia’s double-overtime thriller over Oklahoma in the previous two years in Pasadena, the Rose Bowl got another matchup full of late-game fireworks.

Browning passed for 313 yards and Gaskin rushed for 121 in the final game of the four-year starters’ careers for Washington, which has lost three straight New Year’s Six bowl games.

After three poor offensive quarters, the Huskies made it awfully interesting late. The Pac-12 champions racked up 266 yards of offense in the fourth, only to find they had fallen too far behind in their first Rose Bowl game appearance in 18 years.

“It was too little, too late, but we’re always going to keep swinging,” Browning said. “That’s how we are as a team. We’re never out of it.”

Coach Chris Petersen dropped to 1-4 in bowls at Washington, including consecutive defeats in the Peach, Fiesta and Rose.

This game could be Haskins’ farewell to Ohio State as well. The Heisman Trophy finalist — who is considered by draft analysts to be a possible first-round pick if he opts for the NFL — threw his 50th TD pass of the season in the first half.

Berry caught a 1-yard TD pass just 14 seconds before halftime, putting the Buckeyes up 21-3.

Gaskin became the fourth running back in NCAA history with four 1,200-yard seasons with a third-quarter carry, but Ohio State increased its lead with J.K. Dobbins’ TD run.

The Huskies finally scored their first offensive touchdown since the Apple Cup when Gaskin threw a TD pass to Drew Sample with 12:17 to play.

After this big finish in Pasadena, Meyer formally turns over the Ohio State program to Ryan Day, his 39-year-old co-offensive coordinator. These Buckeyes are Meyer’s eighth team to finish with one loss or fewer in his 17 seasons as a head coach.

“He’s a really tough guy,” said Ohio State running back Mike Weber, who rushed for 96 yards. “Sometimes you never really know what he’s thinking. He really doesn’t show a lot of emotion, but I felt him today. You could tell he was giving his all. It felt a little different.”

Although Meyer’s final season began with an embarrassing three-game suspension over his mismanagement of domestic abuse accusations against former assistant Zach Smith, Day filled in capably during his absence. Meyer then propelled the Buckeyes to another largely dominant regular season, even without star defensive lineman Nick Bosa — although they missed out on the playoff thanks to one blowout loss to Purdue.

“We’re going down as one of three teams in Ohio State history to win 13 games,” Buckeyes defensive end Chase Young said. “Legendary team. Legendary coach. We’re all legendary right now.”

Greg Beacham is an Associated Press sports writer.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/collegesports/article/Ohio-State-staves-off-Washington-in-Urban-13502407.php.

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