Ohio State offense hums as Buckeyes destroy Maryland

COLUMBUS -- Ohio State scored on its first five possessions of the game against visiting Maryland.

The seventh-ranked Buckeyes (5-1, 3-0 Big Ten) never looked back, finishing the first half of the season with a 66-17 win over the Terrapins.

C.J. Stroud completed 24 of 33 passes for 406 yards and five touchdowns for the Buckeyes as he continued to look like a new man after taking a week off to rest a sore shoulder.

“I’m just feeling more comfortable, and on top of that God has blessed me with supernatural healing in my shoulder,” said the redshirt freshman. “My shoulder has been feeling a lot better. Every day I’ve been rehabbing it just to make sure nothing else goes wrong, but that’s kind of been the big thing for me.”

Maryland (3-2, 1-2) took the opening kickoff and drove to the Ohio State 21, but a third down sack forced the Terrapins to settle for a 48-yard field goal by Joseph Petrino.

Zach Harrison got to Taulia Tagovailoa first and forced him to Javontae Jean-Baptiste while Haskell Garrett finished him off to turn third-and-3 into fourth and 1`5.

Ohio State answered with a 17-play, 88-yard drive and took the lead on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Stroud to Garrett Wilson.

The touchdown came on a fourth down on which Wilson shook his defender at the line of scrimmage then hauled in a line drive from Stroud just inside the end zone.

With Maryland appearing to be focused on stopping the run, Stroud completed nine of 12 passes for 88 yards on the drive. He found Jaxon Smith-Njigba for 14 on a third-and-13 and Chris Olave for 17 on a third-and-7 to keep the drive alive.

After forcing a three-and-out, the Buckeyes brought out the beef for their second drive and scored much faster. TreVeyon Henderson capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run out of the I formation, one play after his 30-yard catch out of the backfield gave the Buckeyes first and goal. Ohio State put a pair of tight ends on the field for the drive but used Maryland’s response to continue attacking mostly through the air.

Stroud hit Chris Olave on a deep out for 10 yards to start the drive and later found Wilson open on a play-action pass that gained 29.

On the next drive, Olave took his turn as he broke wide open over the middle for a 36-yard touchdown catch from Stroud.

“I think he’s executing at a fairly high level right now,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said. “He still has a lot to build on, but I think his preparation has been excellent. He sees the field well. He’s got good players around him, but he’s also been making some really good throws.”

With Maryland wobbling at that point, Tagovailoa engineered a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive to keep the Terps in the game. He was 6-for-8 passing on the drive and capped with with a 7-yard toss to Carlos Carriere in the end zone. Maryland faced only one third down on the drive and converted it with an 11-yard pass from Tagovailoa to Chigoziem Okonkwo.

But the good feelings didn’t last long for Maryland as Emeka Ogbuka returned the ensuing kickoff 61 yards to set up another quick scoring drive for the Buckeyes.

TreVeyon Henderson ran for three yards on the first play then caught a 26-yard play-action pass from Stroud on the next and took into into the end zone to make it 28-10 with 6:54 left in the second quarter.

Maryland drove to the Ohio State 4-yard line on the next possession, but Tagovailoa mishandled the snap and eventually went down untouched on fourth-and-goal to end that threat.

Ohio State turned around and drove 82 yards in eight plays, punctuating the effort with an 8-yard touchdown run by Master Teague III.

Things did not get much better for the Terps in the second half.

Stroud threw touchdown passes for Wilson and Olave before Henderson scored on a 14-yard run to stretch the Ohio State lead.

Before exiting for good late in the third quarter, Stroud joined Dwayne Haskins Jr. as the only Ohio State quarterbacks with multiple 400-yard passing games.

“His timing’s been right,” Day said. “He’s seeing the field, he’s making some good decisions and so that’s allowing us to run the offense and be very efficient. Is he there yet? Absolutely not. We’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m encouraged with what I’ve seen the last two weeks.”

In garbage time, Maryland got a 43-yard touchdown catch from Rakim Jarrett, but Ohio State answered that with a 32-yard field goal by Noah Ruggles and a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown by Craig Young to set the final margin.

The Buckeyes improved to 7-0 against Maryland. They have scored at least 49 points in every meeting, and raised their scoring average against the Terps to 59.4 points per game.

Ohio State scored on defense for the fifth time in six games this season, including four straight games with an interception return for a score.

“I think it’s a young team that’s growing,” Day said. “I think we’ve been more aggressive, and I think we’re building more confidence and more energy.”

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