Ohio State ‘D’ builds big lead, holds off ‘O’ despite Archie Griffin cameo in spring game

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

COLUMBUS — Even Archie Griffin couldn’t come between Ohio State’s defense and a victory in the spring game on Saturday.

More than four decades after his last carry at Ohio Stadium, the two-time Heisman Trophy winner took a handoff around end for a 25-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

The defense wasn’t trying to stop him, but the points still counted in a 40-31 victory for the defense, which was awarded points for various achievements including stops.

“The offense needed a little help at that point too right around the 30-yard line, so we felt like calling in to the bullpen and pulled in 45 so that was good,” Day said, referring to Griffin’s number during his Ohio State playing days from 1972-75.

Griffin’s not-so-ceremonial touchdown narrowed the offense’s deficit to 34-17.

Kyle McCord completed a 37-yard touchdown pass to Carnell Tate on the first play of the fourth quarter, and Tristan Gebbia hit Noah Rogers for a 57-yard touchdown with 2:30 left to close the gap, but the defense still came out on top.

That was in large part a credit to the defensive line, which dominated whether the first or second unit was on the field.

“I thought that there were some good things, but we need more consistency (on the offensive line),” Day said. “The good news is on defense we’re getting in the backfield and creating confusion and chaos.”

McCord finished 18-for-34 passing for 184 yards and a touchdown while Gebbia was 14 for 24 for 127 yards and a score.

Official stats only had them being sacked five times, but they were under heavy pressure nearly all afternoon.

McCord and Devin Brown spent the spring battling to replace C.J. Stroud as the starting quarterback, but Brown was unable to play because of a finger injury on his throwing hand.

All indications are the quarterback competition will continue when preseason practice begins in July, but Day said he saw growth from the quarterbacks in the spring.

“I think what you saw in the game was similar to what you’ve seen in practice,” Day said of McCord. “Some good things and some things that you’d like to see a little bit better, but he’s growing. I think that the picture sometimes was clean other times not as clean.”

Star receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. played only sparingly while the team’s other top wideouts, Emeka Egbuka, Julian Fleming and Xavier Johnson did not play at all while they recover from injuries.

“But you saw some sparks,” Day said. “That throw to Carnell was an excellent one, but there’s stuff that he wants to look to improve on, so we’ll get on the film and figure out what that was.”

Chip Trayanum had a 65-yard run with the second team in the second quarter for the offense, slashing around a block from Lakota West grad Tegra Tshabola and outracing the defense down the sideline.

Alter grad C.J. Hicks started at linebacker with veterans Tommy Eichenberg and Steele Chambers unavailable because of injury, and the sophomore knocked down a pair of passes while finishing with six tackles, including one for loss.

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