K.J. Hill proved once again, and in spectacular fashion, that he can catch a pass one-handed.
The Ohio State junior receiver also showed, with his celebration afterward, that he could play The Improv.
Headed down the left seam on a delayed route in the second quarter of Ohio State's 30-14 win over Minnesota, Hill popped open and looked back toward Dwayne Haskins Jr. to see if the quarterback had seen the same thing. Not only had Haskins read the fact that there was no safety over the top, he had already sent a pass Hill’s way.
Hill said he had time only to stick his right hand up and pluck the ball, which he did. He went on to tuck it and run the rest of the way for a 36-yard touchdown, never adding his left hand to the ball.
“I guess I call it ‘stick-it,’” Hill said of his right hand, which he’d also used to catch a wide screen during a win at Penn State two weeks earlier. “I stuck it. It’s something I never did before. So it just happens. You don’t think about it.”
Then came the improvisation. When he got to the end zone, he acted as if the ball were stuck to his glove-covered hand and resorted to using a foot to pry it off.
“You’ve got to do something extra when you make a play like that,” Hill said, noting that fellow receiver Terry McLaurin came over to marvel at the grip of that right hand. “So I have to go along with it.”
The touchdown, at 3:59 of the second quarter, gave the Buckeyes a lead, 17-14, which they never relinquished.
Hill led the team with nine catches — second most of his career behind the 12 against Penn State in 2017 — and a career-high 187 yards. The last of his catches Saturday was on a 27-yard post route for the final touchdown in a game in which the passing game, led by Haskins (33-of-44 passing, 412 yards, three TDs), carried the day.
But there was no doubt the catch of the day was the one-hander. Haskins said that as the play developed, “at first I was kind of mad” at Hill because they had worked on the pass pattern in practice and it called for an immediate look back, but Hill was late.
“So when he looked, the ball was already there, and it was a little behind him,” Haskins said. “But he made a crazy play. Of course, K.J. is a little character. He was pretty hyped up. He had a career day.”