The Dwayne Haskins era began with a near perfect first half Saturday at Ohio Stadium.
The first quarterback not named J.T. Barrett or Cardale Jones to start for the Ohio State Buckeyes since 2013, when Braxton Miller had the job, the redshirt sophomore Haskins completed 14 of 18 passes for 164 yards in the first half, leading his team to a 42-14 halftime lead and a 77-31 victory against Oregon State.
Haskins fulfilled a dream by winning the start job in the spring and saw it become reality in the 2018 season opener.
“It’s been an 11-year dream,” said Haskins, a redshirt sophomore from Maryland. “I was thinking about that yesterday: how far I came just to be here to have this opportunity. You just take a deep breath. It’s finally here.”
» PHOTOS: Ten shots of Haskins in action
Haskins finished the game with 313 passing yards. He completed 22 of 30 passes with five touchdowns and one interception. He compiled the most passing yards and most touchdown passes by an Ohio State quarterback making his first start.
“I thought Dwayne started well, played well,” acting head coach Ryan Day said. “He had the one play there he obviously would like to have back, but overall it was a good start for him.”
No. 5 Ohio State scored touchdowns on five of its first six possessions in the half thanks to three touchdown passes by Haskins and two touchdown runs by Mike Weber. Defensive end Nick Bosa recovered a fumble in the end zone for the sixth touchdown.
Haskins won the starting job over Tate Martell and Joe Burrow with his performance in the spring but had the advantage in the race to replace Barrett because of his performance in the second half against Michigan last November. He completed 6 of 7 passes for 94 yards in the regular-season finale, helping the Buckeyes rally from a 20-14 deficit in the third quarter to win 31-20.
Prior to that Michigan game, Haskins had received mop-up duty in seven games. In all, he completed 70.2 percent (40 of 57) of his passes last season for 565 yards.
Ohio State needed five plays on its first possession to get on the board. Haskins threw a 27-yard pass to Terry McLaurin to move the Buckeyes to the Oregon State 6-yard line and threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to McLaurin two plays later.
» PHOTOS: From Skull Session to game at Ohio Stadium
Later in the first quarter, Haskins threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to tight end Rashod Berry and a 3-yard touchdown pass to Weber.
After a one-hour, 12-minute rain delay at halftime because of rain, Haskins threw a 75-yard touchdown pass to Terry McLaurin on the first play of the second half. He also threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Parris Campbell in the third quarter.
Unlike during the Barrett years, the Ohio State offense didn’t rely on quarterback runs. Haskins ran the ball twice, gaining 24 yards with a long run of 17.
The first half also saw the debut of redshirt freshman Tate Martell. He completed 1 of 2 passes for five yards and rushed once for no yards.
Martell entered the game late in the second quarter at the start of a drive but left after two plays with Ohio State facing a 3rd-and-8. Haskins returned to the game and led the Buckeyes on a 10-play, 59-yard touchdown drive.
Ohio State didn’t punt until its second-to-last possession of the half. Martell threw an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-11 to end that drive.
Ryan Day, acting Ohio State head coach, speaks at Skull Session before Ohio State's season opener.
Photo: David Jablonski - Staff Writer