C.J. Stroud slices up Arkansas State secondary as Ohio State improves to 2-0

COLUMBUS -- Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud threw four touchdown passes, including three to Marvin Harrison Jr., as the third-ranked Buckeyes rolled to a 45-12 win over Arkansas State on Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium.

Stroud was an efficient 16-for-24 passing for 351 yards despite missing his top target, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, who sat out with a hamstring injury.

Harrison caught seven passes for 184 yards while Emeka Egbuka caught four passes for 118 yards and another touchdown.

ExplorePHOTOS: Ohio State routs Arkansas State

“It felt good to go out there and build some more chemistry with those guys,” Stroud said. “Marvin and Emeka did an amazing job.”

Ohio State started the scoring with a 96-yard touchdown drive that started on the ground and finished through the air.

The Buckeyes came out with two tight ends on the field and picked up 50 yards on the first three plays — including a 41-yard run by TreVeyon Henderson — before going to the air.

Stroud capped the drive by hitting Harrison on a post pattern, and the sophomore split the safeties and sprinted into the end zone without being touched.

Arkansas State (1-1) countered with an 11-play, 56-yard drive that resulted in a field goal and was heavily dependent on Ohio State penalties. The Buckeyes kept the drive alive with a personal foul on a punt — Teradja Mitchell was flagged for trying to jump over the punter’s protectors — and later a pass interference flag on Denzel Burke.

Dominic Zvada got the Red Wolves on the board with a 29-yard field goal.

ExploreFamiliar faces for Red Wolves on trip to Ohio State

They were quickly down two scores, though, as Ohio State needed just four plays to answer. Stroud’s 45-yard fade pass to Harrison put the Buckeyes deep in ASU territory, and Henderson capped the drive with an 8-yard run up the middle for a touchdown.

Ohio State added a 24-yard field goal by Noah Ruggles before Arkansas State followed that with a pair of Zvada field goals, first from 38 yards and then from 34.

Ohio State got those points back and one more quickly as Stroud connected with Harrison on a deep fade pass for another touchdown that made it 24-9. Miyan Williams got that drive going with a 25-yard run.

The Buckeyes poured it on in the second half, going 75 yards in just three plays for another score on the first possession of the third quarter.

Stroud found Egbuka for 44 yards on a bootleg pass to start the drive, then Henderson ran eight yards to set up his own 23-yard touchdown jaunt over right tackle on which no one appeared to touch him.

The Buckeyes needed only two plays the next time they got the ball. Stroud hit Harrison for eight yards in the flat then lollypopped a pass to Egbuka over the middle for a 51-yard catch-and-run touchdown that gave Ohio State a 38-9 lead with 10:30 left in the third quarter.

After an Arkansas State field goal, Ohio State found the scoring column again when Stroud hit Harrison on a 30-yard pass he snagged away from two defenders while diving into the end zone late in the third quarter.

“I thought the way we came on the second half was was good,” Day said. “We came down and scored, got a three-and-out and that was good, and then we scored again.

“I thought we were going to get a little bit more of that going there in the second half, but didn’t quite finish it the way that we would have liked to have seen, quite honestly, but there were some good things there.”

Harrison became only the second Buckeye to catch three touchdowns in a game twice, joining Joey Galloway. Harrison also had three touchdown catches against Utah in the Rose Bowl last season while Galloway had hat tricks against Michigan State in 1993 and Purdue in ‘94.

The Ohio State defense held ASU to 276 yards despite facing 76 plays, and the Buckeyes nearly tripled up the Red Wolves in terms of yards per play (10.0 to 3.6).

The large number of plays and the score disparity also lent itself to more backups getting into the game, and Lakota West freshmen Jyaire Brown and Tegra Tshabola made their college debuts at cornerback and right guard, respectively, in the fourth quarter.

C.J. Hicks, a freshman from Alter, made his debut on punt return in the fourth quarter as well.

Ohio State’s 538 total yards included 168 on the ground as Henderson ran for 87 yards on 10 carries and Williams added 46 yards on eight carries.

Linebackers Steele Chambers and Cody Simon led Ohio State with six tackles apiece, and defensive tackle Mike Hall Jr. had three tackles for loss.


Saturday, Sept. 17

Toledo at Ohio State, 7 p.m., Fox, 1410

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