COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins seemed to be on the crest of a wave leaving Maryland Stadium on Saturday, not in the trough.
“We’re just happy we came out with the win,” Dobbins said after a 52-51 overtime victory over the Terrapins that was harder-fought than expected.
Dobbins contributed a career-high 203 yards rushing on 37 carries, including one touchdown. Afterward, he was ready to move past Maryland and finally turn his attention to next Saturday against Michigan.
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“Next week’s game is what I left Texas for,” said Dobbins, a native of La Grange. “You know, to come all the way up to the north side, where it’s cold up here.”
The sophomore said he was surprisingly fresh after the Maryland game, despite those 37 carries being a career high and despite the lost fumble at the end of a drive when the Buckeyes had a chance to tie it just before halftime.
He had to carry the load because Mike Weber, though in uniform, stayed on the sideline because of a bruised quadriceps suffered in practice Tuesday, coach Urban Meyer said.
“I wanted them to keep leaning on me as much as they could,” Dobbins said. “Whatever the coaches wanted to do, I’d be there for ’em.”
McCall steps up
Demario McCall served as Dobbins’ primary backup. Though he had just two carries for 12 yards, he also had a 42-yard kickoff return to put the Buckeyes in position to drive for the tying touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“Demario is a talented kid,” Dobbins said of the junior. “He’s going to be great when he gets his opportunity.”
After that kickoff return, Meyer said McCall has at least one starting job nailed down headed into the Michigan game.
“Demario gave us a few (offensive) plays, gave us a dynamic kick return. He’s going to be our kick returner, obviously,” Meyer said.
Receiver Terry McLaurin, who scored the Buckeyes’ first touchdown on a 68-yard pass from Dwayne Haskins Jr. in the second quarter, left the field after suffering an apparent head bump after a catch at the Maryland 1-yard line in the fourth quarter.
He did not return, but Meyer said he expects McLaurin to be available against Michigan.
Meyer said the same about left tackle Thayer Munford, who had to leave at 5:01 of the first quarter because of an apparent lower leg injury. Joshua Alabi replaced Munford and saw his most extensive playing time of the season.
McFarland on the run
It turns out that Anthony McFarland’s 210-yard rushing performance last week against Indiana was only a prelude.
McFarland, who has replaced the injured Ty Johnson for Maryland, ran for 298 yards against the Buckeyes. He had a 81-yard touchdown run on his second carry when Damon Arnette lost contain on a sweep to the left slide.
McFarland broke a tackle attempt by Brendon White on a 75-yard touchdown on his third carry.
One Ohio State player was not the least bit surprised at McFarland’s success. Defensive end Chase Young was McFarland’s teammate at DeMatha Catholic in nearby Hyattsville, Maryland.
“You saw the speed,” Young said. “If you miss one tackle, your safety isn’t catching him. He can outrun any pursuit angles. The boy is lightning with the ball. I knew he was going to blow up.”
Ohio State was victimized on a fake field goal against Purdue. Against Maryland, the Buckeyes again were fooled on a fake, this time on a punt.
With the score tied at 31 with 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter, Maryland faced fourth-and-5 at the Ohio State 46. Punter Wade Lees threw to receiver Taivon Jacobs, a former Buckeyes commitment, for a 15-yard gain. Three plays later, Maryland scored to take a 38-31 lead.
Jones hurt, returns
Dre’Mont Jones played the second half despite a shoulder stinger suffered midway through the second quarter, and he made two key plays at the end of regulation.
After Ohio State tied the score with 52 seconds left, Maryland completed a 30-yard pass to the Buckeyes’ 38 on the first play of its drive. But that was as far as Maryland got. Jones hit Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome on an incompletion.
Young forced a Pigrome fumble with a sack on a 14-yard loss, and Jones had a sack before the quarterback could attempt a Hail Mary on the final play of regulation.
“It was super draining emotionally and physically — but really emotionally,” Jones said of the Buckeyes’ eventual victory. “We found a way to bring ourselves together and contain them.
“If we’d lost that game, pretty much everything is over. That’s what I feel like.”
Jones said his shoulder “is killing me,” but added “I should be cool” for the Michigan game.