Dixon again burns Rutgers with TD catches

Tim May
tmay@dispatch.com
Ohio State's Johnnie Dixon, left, and fellow receiver Parris Campbell celebrate in the end zone after Dixon's 38-yard touchdown reception on the Buckeyes' first possession. Dixon also had a TD catch in the third quarter. [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

Johnnie Dixon saw deep passes launched from Dwayne Haskins Jr. a couple of times Saturday in the gloaming of a wet Ohio Stadium, and the receiver said there was only one way to describe them.

“Mom’s home cooking,” the senior said.

Dixon had two helpings in a 52-3 win over Rutgers, catching 38- and 44-yard passes for touchdowns. The first was the initial score for the Buckeyes, and the second put them ahead 42-0 on the first possession of the second half.

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The plays also were further evidence that there’s an almost even chance that when Dixon catches a pass against Rutgers, it’s going for a touchdown. Last season, he had three catches against the Scarlet Knights, two of them for touchdowns, on 70- and 39-yard plays. On Saturday, it was two out of four catches.

And it’s not just against Rutgers. Last season, Dixon had just 18 catches, but eight were for touchdowns. This season, it has been five catches, two for touchdowns. That’s right, he had just one catch the week before in a 77-31 win over Oregon State.

As the receivers have testified, there is no favorite in their meeting room — led by first-year position coach Brian Hartline. The unit features six in the primary rotation and at least three others wanting more time.

“It’s really easy to NOT get the ball, because you never know what play is going to be called at what time, and you may never be in there when it’s a pass play,” Dixon said. “But we do a pretty good job of keeping each other up. …

“Like last week, Terry (McLaurin) had a really good day. He told me this week was going to be my week. It just keeps rotating throughout the guys.”

That makes taking advantage of the opportunities paramount. Against Rutgers, the Buckeyes knew the post cut against man coverage was going to be available from time to time, and they worked on it all week, Dixon said. Still, Haskins, the first-year starter, and Dixon had to be on the same wavelength to make the play work.

“That’s a thing we’ve been working on so long, he’s seen it enough to know where we’re going to be, and what time,” Dixon said.

It was just part of Haskins’ 20-of-23 passing day for 233 yards and four touchdowns. But Haskins said it’s obvious that Dixon has a knack for the big play if given a chance.

“Johnnie is definitely a home-run maker every time he touches the football,” Haskins said. “That's with everybody; give them a good spot with the ball, they can take it to the house anytime. That's the thing for me is ball placement.”

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports

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