Buckeyes show no mercy in first half

Bill Rabinowitz
Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver K.J. Hill Jr. (14) rushes the football while under pressure from Maryland Terrapins defensive back Antoine Brooks Jr. (25) and defensive back Lavonte Gater (37) during the first half of Saturday's NCAA football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on November 9, 2019. The Buckeyes led 42-0 at halftime. [Barbara J. Perenic/Dispatch]

Ohio State scored 10 touchdowns and gained 705 yards Saturday.

But if you want to get a true sense of the Buckeyes’ mindset in their 73-14 rout of Maryland at Ohio Stadium on Saturday, two moments stood out.

The first came after the Buckeyes took a 14-0 lead. It was clear even then that the Terrapins would provide little resistance. But on the ensuing kickoff, coach Ryan Day called for an onside kick. Chris Olave recovered Blake Haubeil’s perfect pooch kick, and the Buckeyes quickly scored again.

The second came after Ohio State scored its sixth touchdown in as many possessions with 52 seconds left before halftime to make the score 42-0. Day wasn’t satisfied. He called timeouts on Maryland’s next two snaps so the Buckeyes could try to block a Terrapins punt, which they nearly did.

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“Well, we always want to be aggressive,” Day said. “That’s the way we want to be around here. I think when this team faces a little bit of adversity, we have an edge and want to come after you.”

The adversity came Friday when the team announced that star defensive end Chase Young would be held out of the game because of concern he might have committed an NCAA violation by accepting an improper loan.

Until then, it had been a charmed season for the Buckeyes (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten). On Tuesday, the College Football Playoff selection committee put them atop its first rankings.

If the Buckeyes needed extra motivation, they now had it.

“Our guys didn’t flinch,” Day said. “OK, we’ve got some adversity. Let’s go, let’s pull this thing together. Let’s show everybody how tight this team is and what we’re made of and show our character. And I thought that came through today during the game.”

So did the Buckeyes’ talent. Maryland scored 51 points against Ohio State last year and came within a failed two-point conversion of pulling a major upset.

These injury-depleted Terrapins (3-6, 1-5) are a shell of that team. The Buckeyes defense bears no resemblance to that error-prone unit from 2018, either.

“It wasn’t even a revenge thing,” defensive end Tyreke Smith said. “We just have business to take care of. We felt like they were remembering the game from last year, and we had to prove to them that we’re a different team and this is a new year. We wanted to go out with an edge and with attitude.”

Smith and freshman Zach Harrison started in place of Young and the injured Jonathon Cooper. Smith had two sacks and Harrison one as the Buckeyes had a season-high seven.

Maryland didn’t get a first down until less than two minutes remained in the first quarter, and that came on a face-mask penalty. When an open Olave caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Justin Fields to make it 28-0 early in the second quarter, Ohio State had outgained Maryland 261-1. That’s not a misprint.

Maryland managed only 131 yards of offense in the game. Running back Anthony McFarland, who ravaged the Buckeyes for 298 yards last year, was limited to 7 yards on six carries.

“Credit to Ohio State,” first-year Maryland coach Mike Locksley said. “They're very well-deserving of their ranking. This was a team loss in all phases, coaches and players all included. I didn't like the way we showed up and played.”

He said he had no problem with the onside kick or Day calling the late second-quarter timeouts.

“Ryan's got to coach his team, and I've got to coach mine,” he said. “That's part of the game. I take no offense to it.”

Day did show mercy in the second half: He used backups the entire second half.

Fields finished 16 of 25 for 200 yards with three passing touchdowns and one rushing score.

Running back J.K. Dobbins gained 90 yards in 12 carries in his two quarters of action, including touchdown runs of 7 and 20 yards.

Even with backups in the second half, the Buckeyes kept padding their lead. Chris Chugunov completed 8 of 11 passes for 103 yards. Master Teague ran for 111 yards. Demario McCall capped the scoring with a pair of touchdown runs in the fourth quarter.

Maryland averted the shutout in the third quarter on a 26-yard touchdown pass on a drive aided by Ohio State penalties on three straight plays.

“Embarrassing,” Day said of the flags.

That was about the only thing that didn’t go smoothly for the Buckeyes.


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