Ohio State puts down Maryland threat with dominant second half

COLUMBUS — Ohio State dominated the second half to defeat Maryland 37-17 on Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium.

The fourth-ranked Buckeyes (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) trailed 10-0 early in the second quarter, came back to tie the game just before halftime then outscored the visitors 27-7 in the second half.

“The number one goal is to be 1-0 on Saturday,” Ohio State head coach Ryan Day said. “So check that box. We want to play well in the second half, check that box. We wanted to start fast in this game, and we didn’t get that done so we’ve got to look at why that is, but you can start to see the rhythm again in the second half.”

Previously undefeated Maryland (5-1, 2-1 Big Ten) struck first when Taulia Tagovailoa connected with Kaden Prather for a 15-yard touchdown pass less than three minutes into the game. Prather was covered tightly by Davison Igbinosun but able to gather the ball in with one hand as he went to the ground in the end zone.

The quick score came after the Terrapins enjoyed fantastic field position at the Buckeyes’ 30 because Ohio State took the opening kickoff, gained eight yards then had a botched punt end up being a run for a loss of three on fourth down.

The visitors added a 21-yard field goal by Jack Howes with 12:56 left in the second quarter to go ahead 10-0, and they continued to get the better of the play on both sides of the ball until a big miscue by Tagovailoa.

He tried to hit a receiver underneath but was a bit off target, and Ohio State senior safety Josh Proctor made him pay by reading the pass, stepping in front of it and returning it 24 yards for a touchdown.

The home team tied it with a 36-yard field goal by Jayden Fielding with 1:32 left in the second quarter. That capped a six-play, 72-yard drive that featured Marvin Harrison Jr. catches of 58 and 19 yards.

“Some real good plays by Marvin Harrison, and we needed them because they were putting a lot of guys in the box and really leaving the middle of the field open at times,” Day said. “And we took advantage that in the second half.”

Maryland moved into position to recapture the lead, but the clock ran out on the Terps after Tagovailoa checked down to running back Antwain Littleton II for a 4-yard completion and he was tackled in bounds.

The Terrapins got the ball to start the third quarter and marched 75 yards for a touchdown less than four minutes.

Tagovailoa capped the drive with a 9-yard scramble into the end zone. Maryland ran for 40 yards on the drive and picked up 35 through the air while gaining five first downs.

The Buckeyes answered with a 76-yard drive that featured a 37-yard pass from Kyle McCord to Julian Fleming and ended with Chip Trayanum’s 4-yard touchdown run.

The home team took the lead for the first time when Fielding hit a 24-yard field goal with 2:19 left in the third quarter. That followed a Lathan Ransom interception that gave them the ball at the Maryland 38.

The Buckeyes stretched the lead to 10 points early in the fourth quarter when McCord found Cade Stover wide open following a fake end-around. Stover hauled in his pass for a 44-yard touchdown with 10:16 left.

After stopping Maryland on fourth down in Terp territory, Ohio State tacked on another touchdown as McCord found Harrison Jr. in the end zone from 17 yards out with 7:01 to go, then Fielding finished the scoring with a 41-yard field goal with 2:10 left.

“I couldn’t quite understand what’s going on there the first couple drives,” Day said. “Couldn’t quite get in sync on offense and then we had the botched snap. That was not supposed to be a fake. It was a bad snap. It just kind of slipped out of his hands. It was one of those things, ‘Okay, what’s going on here?’ But that is the game and you’ve got to respond, so I thought we did respond well on the second half. Got into a rhythm.”

Tagovailoa completed 21 of 41 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked twice and hit five more times as the Ohio State pass rush had its best day of the season.

McCord completed 12 of 14 passes for 198 yards in the second half to finish the day 19 for 29 for 320 yards.

Harrison caught eight passes for 163 yards despite dealing with a sprained ankle, and Ohio State improved to 5-0 before a roadtrip to Purdue next Saturday.

“We talked all week about getting the game into the fourth quarter and then see where we fit, and we were able to do that,” Maryland head coach Mike Locksley said. “I just didn’t like the way we finished, but we can get those things corrected.”

About the Author