(Reuters) - Ohio State beat Oregon 42-20 to win the first College Football Playoff national championship game on Monday, with Ezekiel Elliott running for 246 yards and four touchdowns.
American football’s inaugural four-team college playoff came to a surprising conclusion as the Buckeyes, a controversial choice as the fourth team, topped the heavily favored Ducks to cap a banner season of overcoming obstacles.
“This will go down as one of the great stories in college football history,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “(It’s a story of) closeness, selflessness and team.”
Third-string quarterback Cardale Jones was again thrust into the spotlight after injuries to the team’s top signal callers, and he shook off his team’s four turnovers to throw for 242 yards with one passing score and another on the ground.
Jones stood toe to toe with Oregon’s Heisman Trophywinning quarterback, Marcus Mariota, who tossed for 333 yards and two touchdowns in the defeat. Meyer delivered the national title to the Buckeyes after taking over the program in 2012, and won his third overall following titles with Florida in 2006 in 2008.
Oregon reached the championship game by humbling Florida State 59-20 last week, but the Ducks’ fast-paced offense was slowed by the Buckeyes.
After trailing 21-10 at halftime, Mariota launched a 70-yard touchdown pass and Oregon added a field goal to pull within 21-20 midway through the third quarter.
Ohio State turned to Elliott to seal the game as he pushed the lead back up with a third-quarter score then added two more in the fourth. The performance was his third straight 200-yard rushing game.
“The offense just started clicking so well and the offensive line stepped up,” Elliott explained. “It’s a surreal moment. We finally did it.”
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford/Sudipto Ganguly