PASADENA, Calif. — With Washington mounting a fourth-quarter comeback Tuesday in the Rose Bowl, the Ohio State defense struggled to gain a grip.

Suddenly, safety Brendon White seized control and ran with it as the Buckeyes held for to a 28-23 win.

His interception of Huskies quarterback Jake Browning on a two-point conversion attempt with 42 seconds left helped seal the victory after Washington scored a touchdown and tried to cut the difference to a field goal.

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Receiver Johnnie Dixon put the cap on the Buckeyes’ win when he cleanly fielded the ensuing kickoff. But it was White’s play that chopped Washington’s momentum.

“My job was to go to the goal post,” then play what he saw, White said. “So my eyes were on the quarterback. … Luckily the ball was right there. I was going to take a knee, but I saw open field so I started running. I wish I would have scored. Maybe next time.”

His play ended Browning’s hot streak, with the Huskies scoring three touchdowns in the final 12:17 while the Buckeyes sort of took a knee after building a 28-3 lead.

“We’ve been through a lot of adversity this whole year, so we knew we were going to have ups and downs,” White said. “You’re guaranteed adversity in games like this.”

The key, he said, “is to be able to bounce back from adversity, and that comes with the brotherhood that coach (Urban) Meyer has brought to this team.”

The Buckeyes were outgained 444-364 by the Huskies in total yards, but again, the defense made plays when it mattered. Cornerback Jeffrey Okudah had pass breakups at key moments, and Chase Young and others on the defensive front kept applying pressure, even as Browning and the Huskies kept making plays, some of them off desperate throws.

“That’s the best thing about defenses like us,” White said. “People are always out to get us, but we know that in these four corners of Ohio State, that our unit is going to stick together and not listen to the outside noise. As long as we’re focused on us, we’ll get the job done.”

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports