Two Florida Atlantic defenders followed one Ohio State Buckeyes receiver, leaving tight end Jeremy Ruckert wide open for the second touchdown Saturday. No one touched Ruckert as he cut toward the middle of the field, and he caught the pass from Justin Fields at the 3-yard line without a defender in the area code.
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“It feels like you’re waiting a couple years for the ball to get there,” Ruckert said, “but I was happy to be in that situation and make a play. If we got that look, we were going to run (that play). We were confident in it. Justin’s a great player. He put it right on me. If I dropped it, it would have been a big deal. I was too open to mess it up.”
Ruckert’s 25-yard touchdown catch gave Ohio State a 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the game. He added a second touchdown catch, a 3-yard grab, in the third quarter to extend Ohio State’s lead to 35-6. They won the season opener 45-21 at Ohio Stadium.
Ruckert, a sophomore from Lindenhurst, N.Y., caught two other passes and finished with 38 receiving yards, second most on the team, in his first career start. He hopes the production continues for himself and the rest of the tight ends.
“We were all looking forward to it,” Ruckert said. “It’s been a long time coming. Last year, we had all those wide receivers who got drafted, so it was tough to get on the field.”
Starting lineup: Wayne grad Robert Landers, a fifth-year senior, started at nose tackle and had three tackles. He shared a sack with defensive end Chase Young.
This was the 10th career start for Landers, who started nine games last season. He has appeared in 40 games in four seasons after redshirting as a freshman in 2015. His brother Trey, a senior basketball player for the Dayton Flyers, watched the game from the stands behind the Ohio State bench.
Second opener: Ryan Day served as head coach in the 2018 season opener because Urban Meyer was suspended. He ran out of the tunnel with the team before a 77-31 victory against Oregon State.
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Day led the Buckeyes onto the field again Saturday, but this time, it was his team. He took over the program after the Rose Bowl in January. Day said he paused to enjoy the moment before the game began.
“I looked up at the stands and looked up at the full house running out of the tunnel and the smoke comes out and that’s my time to enjoy it,” he said, “and it’s unbelievable. The hair stands up on your arms and the back of your neck, and you feel fortunate to be in that situation. That’s my time. I’ll try to make sure we do that every game.”
Looking ahead: Ohio State stays at home for its second game of the season. It will face the Cincinnati Bearcats, coached by former Ohio State player and coach Luke Fickell, at noon next Saturday. The Bearcats beat UCLA 24-14 on Thursday in Cincinnati.
“We got a really good team coming in here next week who is well-coached,” Day said, “and you guys know Luke and those guys are going to be prepared. We’ve got our hands full.”
By the numbers: K.J. Hill caught three passes. He has at least one reception in 35 straight games. The school record of 48 was set by Gary Williams between 1979 and 1982. … Free safety Jordan Fuller led Ohio State with seven tackles. He leads all active Buckeyes with 169 career tackles.