COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Dwayne Haskins had a lot to prove.
After decommitting from Maryland to wait in to become the starting quarterback at Ohio State, the redshirt sophomore had an opportunity to prove to College Park, to prove to his home state he made the right decision.
With Ohio State in a holding pattern in terms of postseason hopes, staying at No. 10 in the College Football Playoff rankings despite winning its past two games, Haskins would have to lead the Buckeyes to a dominant win, passing the “eye test,” and bringing the team momentum heading into the Michigan game next week.
That did not happen. But Haskins did prove something: his leadership when it counted the most.
Trailing 45-38 with 1:41 left in the game, Haskins led Ohio State on a 50-yard drive, hitting junior wide receiver Binjimen Victor for a 3-yard score, breaking former quarterback J.T. Barrett’s record with his 36th touchdown pass of the season, tying the game at 45, securing overtime.
In Ohio State’s first possession of overtime, Haskins looked a lot like Barrett, recording his third touchdown of the day, a 5-yard rush on an option.
But despite Ohio State allowing a 1-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Tayon Fleet-Davis, the Buckeyes defense stopped Maryland on a 2-point conversion attempt, securing No. 10 Ohio State’s win against Maryland 52-51.
After finishing with 405 yards through the air, 59 yards on the ground with six total touchdowns, Haskins said the final stop on the 2-point conversion really got to him.
“For us to stop them on that 2-point conversion, a whole bunch of emotions came out of me,” Haskins said. “All that grit, all that adversity faced in this game and coming back on top. It just meant everything for myself and my teammates, for the coaches.”
However, the Ohio State defense continued to keep Maryland in the game. The Buckeyes allowed 535 yards of total offense, giving up 298 yards to redshirt freshman running back Anthony McFarland, who recorded two touchdowns of over 70 yards.
“We moved the ball well,. I thought we ran the ball well. We had some explosive plays,” Maryland interim head coach Matt Canada said. “I’m really just proud of how we came out and played. A lot of people would have doubted us and did doubt us.”
Haskins said this was something he knew Maryland could bring, being from the area and playing with many of the players on the Terrapins’ roster.
“They have never been a bad team and they always have good players even though sometimes they need a little extra motivation,” Haskins said. “So I guess me playing quarterback for the other team, once being committed to this school, I know they came out to play today.”
Overall, the Ohio State defense knew what Maryland’s offense was going to do offensively.
With the loss of redshirt freshman quarterback Kasim Hill for the season after tearing his ACL, the Terrapins came into the game with the No. 18 rushing offense in the nation, averaging 234.9 yards per game.
The Ohio State defense seemed to know what was coming on the very first play from scrimmage, forcing McFarland back for a one-yard loss.
But that was the last time the Buckeyes defense looked like it knew what it was doing in the first half.
McFarland took the handoff on the outside, outracing the second-level of the Ohio State defense, after redshirt junior cornerback Damon Arnette stepped inside on the run, scoring on a 81-yard run in the first 50 seconds of the first quarter.
McFarland was not done, outrunning the Ohio State defense again on his next carry for a 75-yard score. In the first half, the Buckeyes failed to stop the redshirt freshman running back, recording 231 yards on 11 carries, a career high and the most recorded by a Terrapins back in the first half in school history.
With a one-dimensional approach offensively, Maryland could not find the same holes it had early on after halftime. The Terrapins averaged 2.5 yards per rush, recording 58 rushing yards.
However, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said his defense’s performance was alarming.
“It’s the players and coaches together,” Meyer said. “You know, if it’s a missed tackle, then we are not teaching tackling enough. If it’s a scheme issue, then it’s a coaching issue. I can’t give you the answer right now.”
But the Ohio State offense still had some work to do after the first half after being outscored 17-3 in the first quarter, recording only four passes for 27 yards.
Haskins came out on the first full drive of the quarter and looked more like himself, throwing a 68-yard touchdown pass to redshirt senior wide receiver Terry McLaurin for the first touchdown of the day.
With that pass, Haskins broke the record for most passing yards thrown by an Ohio State quarterback in a single season, a record that was held by former Ohio State quarterback Joe Germaine in 1998.
In the second quarter, the redshirt sophomore quarterback completed six of eight pass attempts for 172 yards with the touchdown pass to McLaurin.
Momentum seemed to favor Ohio State heading into halftime as the Buckeyes moved down the field. However, sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins fumbled the ball in the end zone, losing possession with 32 seconds in the half.
That was one of the few missteps for Dobbins, recording a career-high 203 yards on 37 carries, scoring a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Redshirt junior running back Mike Weber did not receive a carry in the game, which the sophomore back knew going in.
“I knew that Mike wasn’t going to play, so I knew I was going to have to take all of the carries, or most of them,” Dobbins said. “So I had myself mentally prepared for that and I kind of like that. I like getting hit a little bit, you know. I like the roughness. And I just know how to carry a load.”
But the passing game had life, and Ohio State only had a seven-point deficit to overcome out of halftime.
Haskins came out of the locker room, trying to set the tone for the second half, and, after rushing for a 1-yard gain, threw an interception, returned for a touchdown by senior defensive back RaVon Davis.
However, with an Ohio State defense making adjustments in the second half, the Ohio State offense began to come back.
Haskins scored the second rushing touchdown of his career, a 2-yard rush in the third quarter. The redshirt sophomore quarterback then threw his second touchdown of the day, a 6-yard dart to redshirt junior wide receiver K.J. Hill with 12:25 left in the game.
With 7:50 left in the game, Maryland redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome took the ball, took one step back and hit freshman wide receiver Jeshaun Jones for a 27-yard score in one-on-one coverage with Ohio State junior cornerback Kendall Sheffield.
With Haskins scoring on a 1-yard touchdown rush, his second of the day, and freshman tight end Chigo Okonkwo recovering a fumble in the endzone with 1:41 left in the game to give Maryland the 7-point lead, Victor’s score gave Ohio State its first overtime score since the Michigan game in 2016.
Meyer said the 1-point victory against Maryland was very emotional, especially with the highs and lows throughout the game.
“It’s frustrating when you see a pick-six, when you see a tight end not release on a pass and the quarterback fumbles, and you see a guy, a very good running back from Maryland, so it’s up and down, up and down,” Meyer said. “What a chess match down at the end of the game.”
Now Ohio State’s focus shifts to its rival, Michigan, something Haskins was focused on immediately after Saturday’s win.
“It actually starts today,” Haskins said. “It starts today, so we are going to get ready for them right now.”
Ohio State takes on No. 4 Michigan at home at 12 p.m. on Saturday.