Freshman Dallan Hayden carries load for Ohio State football in win at Maryland

Joey Kaufman
The Columbus Dispatch

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Dallan Hayden grew accustomed to a heavy workload as a high school running back in Memphis, Tennessee.

“A lot of people would say it was just run, run, run me,” he said.

But Hayden had never run so much on a stage as big as the one he stepped onto Saturday afternoon.

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Filling in for TreVeyon Henderson in Ohio State’s 43-30 win at Maryland, the freshman served as a workhorse back, carrying the ball 27 times for 146 yards and three touchdowns and giving a much-needed boost to a depleted position group. It was the heaviest workload for a Buckeyes back this season, surpassing the 26 carries Miyan Williams saw at Northwestern earlier this month.

All but one of Hayden's carries against the Terrapins came in the second half when Henderson was held out late by a nagging foot injury that mired his return from previous setbacks.  

“We didn’t quite get the running game going in the first half,” coach Ryan Day said, “then we made the change to Dallan, and he really got us into a rhythm. He was hitting the holes hard.”

A hobbled Henderson was held to 19 rushing yards on 11 carries and finished the game with a walking boot on his left foot.

The impact of Hayden was felt early in the third quarter after the Buckeyes gained possession at the Terrapins’ 14-yard line following a blocked punt by safety Lathan Ransom.

Ohio State running back Dallan Hayden had 146 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a 43-30 win over Maryland.

To open the drive, Hayden took a carry for 6 yards, then got into the end zone on the next snap when he followed a block from left guard Donovan Jackson. After trailing by a 13-10 margin at halftime, the first of his three touchdowns put Ohio State ahead for the remainder of the game. 

Hayden kept the chains moving as he cut in between the tackles to muscle for yards with a north-south running style.

“I feel like I’ve always naturally been able to hit the hole, get downhill, get vertical,” Hayden said. “I’ve never been a dancing type of back.”

That was evident on a 13-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. When it appeared as if safety Dante Trader might bring him down a few yards past the line of scrimmage, Hayden kept his legs churning and shed the potential tackle, shuffling further up the field to cross the goal line and move the Buckeyes ahead by multiple scores.

According to data from Pro Football Focus, Hayden picked up 96 of his 146 rushing yards after contact.

“He’s seeing it,” Day said, “and when you see it and hit it, you run through contact.”

On a drive late in the fourth quarter that ran off nearly five minutes of game clock and resulted in a 45-yard field goal by kicker Noah Ruggles in the final minute, he ran nine times to gain 53 yards.

“They had everybody in there, and if you throw and get an incompletion, then they don’t use one of their timeouts,” Day said. “So we had to run it to eat up the clock. As frustrating as that is, as hard as that is, you have to do it.”

Hayden flashed some of his potential in last week’s rout of Indiana when he was the only scholarship running back available. Henderson was out for a second straight game, along with Chip Trayanum, and Williams had gone down in the second quarter.

He ran 19 times for 102 yards and a touchdown against the Hoosiers in a performance that ultimately prepared him for the larger role in reserve on Saturday.

“I just knew I had to be ready until my number’s called,” Hayden said. “They needed me to go in, and I felt I was ready.”

Part of the impression Hayden left on Day was also his ball security. Despite limited carries, he never put the ball on the turf at SECU Stadium, lending a steadying presence.

“They needed me to go in, and I felt I was ready," said Ohio State running back Dallan Hayden about replacing the injured TreVeyon Henderson in the second half of a 43-30 win over Maryland.

“To take care of the football is the No. 1 thing,” Day said. “You hand somebody that football, you’re putting the whole team in their hands. That’s something we talk about a lot. We trusted Dallan was going to do that.”

Joey Kaufman covers Ohio State football for The Columbus Dispatch. Contact him at jkaufman@dispatch.com or on Twitter @joeyrkaufman.

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