EVANSTON, Ill. — Ohio State left tackle Thayer Munford waited until the second quarter Friday night before stepping onto the field against Northwestern.
An undisclosed injury kept him from starting. He was replaced by redshirt freshman Nicholas Petit-Frere.
But it wasn’t long before Munford made an impact.
Early in the second quarter, Munford stopped Wildcats defensive end Joe Gaziano, who was looking to break into the backfield. His block widened a hole that had been opened by center Josh Myers, and running back J.K. Dobbins took advantage. Dobbins burst through and ran for 68 yards before he was knocked out of bounds at the 5-yard line. Dobbins ran it in on the following play to put the Buckeyes ahead 21-3.
Munford was sidelined briefly during the Buckeyes’ last game, a 34-10 win over Michigan State on Oct. 5 that preceded their off week. He was listed as a game-time decision on the team’s status report Thursday.
It was the first start for Petit-Frere. When he arrived at Ohio State last year, he was the consensus No. 1 offensive tackle prospect, according to the major recruiting services.
The Buckeyes’ depth on the offensive line was limited, making Munford’s availability and production all the more important.
Joshua Alabi, who had started at right tackle in place of Branden Bowen in a win at Nebraska on Sept. 28, was not available and did not travel with the team to face the Wildcats.
Petit-Frere rotated back into the game in the second half, affording Munford some rest.
field goal ends half
The first half ended with Ohio State players mobbing kicker Blake Haubeil.
On the final play of the half, Haubeil made a 55-yard field goal, giving the Buckeyes a 31-3 lead and equaling the second-longest field goal in program history.
Mike Nugent also made a 55-yard field goal against Wisconsin in 2004.
Tom Skladany holds the school record with a 59-yarder against Illinois in 1975.
Haubeil's kick was set up by another important play on special teams. Punter Drue Chrisman downed the Wildcats on their 1-yard line minutes earlier.
With the ball near their goal line, the Wildcats were unable to do much and punted from the end zone, giving the Buckeyes possession at the Northwestern 36 with 31 seconds remaining.
McCall returns after
Demario McCall, the Buckeyes’ primary punt returner and a reserve running back, was back on the field against Northwestern.
McCall did not play in the previous game against Michigan State when an issue arose during pregame warmups. He made a brief appearance in the first half against Northwestern when he returned a punt for minus-1 yard. Freshman receiver Garrett Wilson returned subsequent punts.
Dobbins overtook Beanie Wells for No. 5 on Ohio State’s all-time rushing list, surpassing the 3,382 yards Wells gained during his three-year career. … Among other players who were listed as game-time decisions on the status report Thursday, sophomore linebacker Teradja Mitchell was available. Senior receiver C.J. Saunders, one of the team’s seven captains, was in street clothes for the game. … Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace was among the NFL personnel at the game.