By Logan Hill
On fourth and one, C.J. Stroud took the snap and unloaded a pass deep towards the end zone. Wideout Chris Olave contorted his body, locating the ball despite being held by Tarheeb Still to reel in one of nine Ohio State touchdowns on the afternoon.
This sequence was a microcosm of a tough day for Maryland’s defense, which gave up 598 yards of offense en route to a 66-17 loss for the Terps’ second straight loss of the season.
“I felt our effort was there today. The execution was piss-poor,” coach Mike Locksley said. “We’re playing through some injuries, which to me, are a part of the game.”
Already dealing with the loss of Dontay Demus Jr., who suffered a season-ending knee injury a week ago, Maryland lost wide receiver Jeshaun Jones on its second offensive snap.
Following the injury, Maryland trekked all the way to the Ohio State 18-yard line, but a third down sack by Javon Jean Baptiste, who was flagged for roughing the passer just three plays earlier, forced the Terps to settle for a field goal attempt. Joseph Petrino connected from 48 yards out, and Maryland opened the scoring, 3-0.
It would be the only time Maryland led.
The Buckeyes responded with a methodical touchdown drive, marching 88 yards on 17 plays. Stroud capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson on fourth and two, giving Ohio State the lead, 7-3.
Despite scoring points on their first possession, Maryland couldn’t find the same success on their second. After a holding penalty, Maryland was forced to punt.
Just five plays later, Ohio State found paydirt once again. After picking up 30 yards on a pass out of the backfield, TreVeyon Henderson finished things off with a four-yard touchdown run on the next play. After one quarter, Stroud was 12-15 for 157 yards and a touchdown, and the Buckeyes led 14-3.
The second quarter didn’t bring any good fortune Maryland’s way. Taulia Tagovailoa attempted a deep pass to Brian Cobbs on third down after getting out of the pocket, but it fell incomplete and the Terps punted it away once again.
On their next drive, Ohio State stretched the lead out even further. On a play-action pass, Stroud found Chris Olave wide open in the middle of the field, as the senior walked in for a 36-yard score. With less than twenty minutes of game time elapsed, Ohio State led 21-3.
“Early on, we stopped the run but we feel like it was the pass that got to us,” Sam Okuayinonu said.
Maryland would respond better on their following drive. The Terps went 75 yards on 12 plays, and Taulia Tagovailoa found Carlos Carriere from seven yards out to cut the lead to 21-10. On the scoring drive, Tagovailoa was six for eight for 76 yards along with the touchdown pass.
On the ensuing kickoff, Emeka Egbuka returned it all the way to the Maryland 29, putting the Buckeyes right back in scoring position. Two plays later, Stroud connected with Henderson for a 26-yard catch-and-run to put the Buckeyes up by three scores once again, at 28-10.
The Terps were in position to respond with their second straight touchdown, after marching all the way to the Ohio State five-yard line. Facing a fourth-and-four, a bad snap led to a Buckeyes sack, as Tagovailoa was forced to scramble immediately.
With less than two minutes until halftime, Ohio State did what Maryland couldn’t on their previous drive. The Buckeyes drove 82 yards on just eight plays in just over a minute, putting them up 35-10 at the break. For the second straight week, the Terps were down big through one half of play.
“I think we had a good time moving the ball [today],” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “At the same time we have to finish.”
Coming out of the locker room, Ohio State picked up right where they left off. The Buckeyes orchestrated another scoring drive, going 66 yards on seven plays with Stroud finding Wilson again for a 26-yard touchdown.
After another Maryland punt, Stroud and Olave connected for the fourth down circus touchdown, expanding their lead further. After that, Henderson got to the edge and in the end zone once again, as the Buckeyes went up 56-10. Stroud finished the day 24-33 for 406 yards and five touchdowns, torching the Maryland secondary pretty much at will.
“He had wide open guys and he hit wide open guys, which is what you want your quarterback to do,” Locksley said.
Maryland did respond with a touchdown of their own, as Tagovailoa found Rakim Jarrett for a 43-yard catch-and-run down the left sideline. The score ended a 35-0 scoring run by Ohio State.
Tagovailoa finished the game 28-for-39 for 279 yards and two touchdowns to go with two interceptions, as constant pressure from a stout Buckeyes’ front seven kept him off-balance for most of the game. His second interception led to Ohio State’s last score of the game, as Craig Young intercepted a pass and took it back 70 yards for a pick six.
It was the second straight blowout loss for the Terps, as well as their second straight against a top ten ranked team. Once again, what began as a competitive game quickly turned into a rout. For a Maryland team looking to establish its place in the Big Ten, Saturday’s loss was a disheartening one.
“We weren’t able to get off the field on third down,” Sam Okuayinonu said. “We just [have] to go back to the drawing board. Definitely a tough loss.”
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