When Binjimen Victor reached high to grab the pass that altered the course of Ohio State’s game — and its season — at Penn State on Saturday night, there’s a great chance it did the same for his career.
“I think it’s a defining moment for him, I sure do,” offensive coordinator Ryan Day said. “Ben has made some plays in games but to make a play in a moment like that and change the momentum of the whole game, that says a lot for him.”
Previously he’d been known as the receiver “who has all the tools” to be great, as coach Urban Meyer said several times the past couple of years, but had not turned it into an on-field performance. He had caught a few touchdown passes along the way and lately had been throwing blocks on others’ catches that were gaining him praise.
But Saturday, when the Buckeyes needed a play, it was his turn to deliver. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr., stepping up in the pocket under pressure and with his team down 12 points with just under seven minutes to play, found Victor in man coverage over the middle and fired it.
Victor didn’t just reach up with his long arms to grab the pass. He seized the moment.
He broke the first two tackle attempts, then weaved his way to the end zone, taking advantage of blocks by Rashod Berry, Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon along the way. It was a 47-yard play that resurrected a game that was later won by the Buckeyes on a 24-yard screen pass to K.J. Hill.
For Victor, it might have been the start of bigger and better things, but he wasn’t thinking about that.
“It’s very humbling to be in this position I’m in,” Victor said. “It’s a great university, a great program, a great team. I just love my teammates, we’re just going to keep pushing from here on out.”
As he made his way to the end zone, he had to have a sense of the magnitude of the play. The Buckeyes were desperate for a pick-me-up in a game whose result would resonate the rest of the season in terms of their goals to win the Big Ten East, reach the league title game and qualify for the College Football Playoff.
He said he understood what it meant afterward, but at the moment, “I just felt like when I got in there we were still down, we just had to keep calm and keep making plays. We had to get another one and another one, too, to come out with the victory.”
From boos to a boot
When Dre’Mont Jones went down after injuring his left ankle early on Penn State’s final possession, he was booed by fans who evidently thought he was faking it to try to slow down the Nittany Lions’ promising drive.
“I don’t care about being booed,” Jones said. “But being hurt is terrible.”
He returned to the game a couple plays later and was in on the mad rush, led by defensive end Chase Young, that stuffed the Nittany Lions’ run attempt on fourth-and-5 with 1:42 to play. But after the game he was wearing a protective boot on his left foot and ankle.
Asked whether he expected to be able to play Saturday when the Buckeyes play Indiana, Jones said, “Hopefully. Right now, I’m in a boot. It hurts to walk.”