Ohio State Escapes Shootout With Maryland as Defensive Questions Loom

It took overtime, but Dwayne Haskins Ohio State left College Park with a win despite another rocky effort from the defense. Now, its showdown with Michigan is next.
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Ohio State's preseason goals are still in front of them with Michigan coming to town next week—win The Game and it wins the Big Ten East and will play for a conference title, with a win in Indy putting it up for College Football Playoff consideration. But for the first 15 minutes of Saturday's game against Maryland, Ohio State acted like it didn’t want to play any more football than it absolutely had to.

The Buckeyes' defense, which has been an issue for most of the season, was a disaster against Maryland's running game and continued a year-long theme of giving up big plays at inopportune times. Maryland averaged almost nine yards per carry and put up 339 yards on the ground, and ABC cameras found head coach Urban Meyer exasperated on the sidelines every single time his defense was left chasing a Maryland defender into the end zone. The Buckeyes now have seven days to try to figure out the Michigan rushing attack, which has been one of the most consistent in the Big Ten all year, and after a sloppy but thrilling four-hour marathon, Meyer's team looks more inconsistent than ever.

It took just two plays for Maryland running back Anthony McFarland to race untouched 81 yards past the Buckeye defense and open the scoring.

Not satisfied with that run, McFarland, who ran for 298 yards, repeated the feat five minutes later, taking a handoff and sprinting 75 yards to the house on the first play of another Maryland possession.

But after a two-touchdown deficit in the first quarter, Ohio State battled back to beat Maryland 52–51 in a wild overtime affair to keep its postseason goals alive.

Ohio State got the ball first in overtime, and converted a fourth-and-one on the Maryland 16 when Rashod Berry caught an 11-yard pass from Dwayne Haskins, who then scored his third rushing touchdown of the day on a six-yard keeper.

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Tayon Fleet-Davis took it in from one-yard when Maryland got the ball, but on the two-point try, Tyrrell Pigrome rolled out to his right and missed a wide-open receiver in the end zone to end the game.

After battling to cut Maryland's halftime lead to 24–17, the Buckeyes started the second half with disaster when Dwayne Haskins was picked off by defensive back by RaVon Davis, who returned it 37 yards for a score to make it 31–17.

But Ohio State stormed back behind a dominant performance in the third quarter, where it only gave up 18 yards to the Maryland offense. It then tied the score at 31 on a K.J. Hill six-yard touchdown reception from Haskins, who went 28 for 38 for 405 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception. This started a sequence of five straight possessions by both teams with a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Maryland appeared to go three-and-out on its next possession, but executed a beautiful fake punt when Wade Lees threw a 15-yard pass to Taivon Jacobs.

The Terrapins cashed in three plays later when Pigrome hit Jeshaun Jones for 27 yards to again take the lead.

Pigrome, in his first start of the year filling in for injured QB Kasim Hill, only completed six of his 13 attempts, but those six plays went for 181 yards with one touchdown.

The Buckeye defense crumbled once again when Pigrome hit Darryl Jones for a 60-yard bomb to the one-yard line in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter. It almost held the Terps to a field goal, but a defensive pass interference call on third-and-goal gave Maryland new life.

On third-and-goal, McFarland ran a jet sweep but was hit by linebacker Ohio State Pete Warner and fumbled, but the ball ended up in the end zone and was recorded by Maryland tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo.

Haskins led Ohio State back down the field, taking just 52 seconds to drive seven plays, and hitting paydirt on a three-yard touchdown pass to Binjimen Victor with 40 second remaining to force the overtime period. It was Haskins’s 36th touchdown pass of the season, setting a new single-season school record.

The Buckeyes' running game, which has been a point of emphasis in the last few weeks, was led by J.K. Dobbins, who rushed for a career high 205 yards. Ohio State ran 94 plays and racked up 688 total yards of offense, while Maryland had 535.

Ohio State can now turn its attention to rival Michigan. The Eastern Division title and a spot in the Big Ten championship against Northwestern on Dec. 1 in Indianapolis will be on the line next weekend.