Anyone who thought Ohio State was supposed to be taking a midseason break with an Oct. 13 nonconference contest against Kent State forgot to tell the Buckeyes to take the week off.
As a result, they ran roughshod over their instate foes, rolling to an easy, breezy 48-3 victory over the Golden Flashes in front of 105,051 fans in Ohio Stadium.
OSU scored early and often in the contest to make it a laugher by halftime. The Buckeyes tallied a touchdown in the first quarter, then heaped on 28 points in the second period to take a 35-0 lead into the locker room. After that, head coach Jim Tressel emptied his bench, playing third- and fourth-string players along with several walk-ons.
“We had an opportunity to get a lot of guys some playing time and we’ll learn a lot about these guys from some video,” OSU head coach Jim Tressel said. “Of course, we know full well that what is really critical starts next week (when we return to Big Ten action).”
OSU quarterback Todd Boeckman was an efficient 13 for 16 in the passing department for 184 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He gave way to backup Robbie Schoenhoft in the second half, and the sophomore connected on 7 of his 9 attempts for 79 yards. Schoenhoft also tallied the first rushing touchdown of his OSU career.
Sophomore receiver Brian Hartline had a big day for the Buckeyes. He grabbed three receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown and also returned a punt 90 yards for another score. Also, junior split end Brian Robiskie had four catches for 42 yards as 10 different players came up with at least one reception.
In the rushing department, nine different Buckeyes carried at least one time with freshman Brandon Saine leading the way with 69 yards on nine carries. Saine also logged a team-high five receptions for 76 yards.
Starting tailback Chris Wells was able to rest his bothersome ankle for much of the afternoon, carrying only four times for 17 yards and a touchdown.
Kent State couldn’t muster much offense at all, gaining only 223 total yards to 401 for the Buckeyes. The Flashes were led by sophomore tailback Eugene Jarvis, who had 84 yards on 16 carries. However, Jarvis entered the game as the country’s fourth-leading rusher with an average of 141.8 yards per contest.
Three KSU quarterbacks combined to complete only 6 of 15 pass attempts for 62 yards and one interception, a pick that was returned 70 yards for a touchdown by Ohio State cornerback Donald Washington. The Buckeyes also registered five sacks.
On defense, Ohio State was led by freshman linebacker and special teams sensation Brian Rolle, who had seven stops. Outside linebacker Marcus Freeman added six while defensive tackle Doug Worthington, safety Kurt Coleman, cornerback Malcolm Jenkins and backup middle linebacker Austin Spitler each had five.
Defensive end Vernon Gholston had two of the five sacks – the other three were turned in by Rolle, Washington and defensive end Robert Rose.
The Buckeyes got the scoring under way early when Hartline gathered in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Boeckman at the 11:09 mark of the first quarter. Ryan Pretorius added the extra point for a 7-0 lead.
Hartline struck again just 27 seconds inside the second period when he fielded a punt at his own 10-yard line, made a Kent State defender miss and then sprinted 90 yards to the end zone. It was the longest punt return ever by an OSU player, wiping out the 57-year-old mark set by Robert Demmell, who ran one back 87 yards against Iowa in 1950.
Pretorius added the PAT for a 14-0 lead with 14:33 to go in the first half. Less than five minutes later, Chris Wells capped a short 50-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run, and after another Pretorius kick, the Buckeyes led 21-0 at the 9:49 mark of the second quarter.
At the 2:47 mark, Washington grabbed an Edelman pass along the Kent State sideline and returned the interception 70 yards. Then with just 23 seconds left, Maurice Wells gathered in a 15-yard swing pass from Boeckman for another touchdown. Pretorius added the extra points after both scores, and the Buckeyes rolled to halftime with a 35-0 lead.
OSU kept up the onslaught in the second half when Schoenhoft scored on a 2-yard run at 9:38 of the third quarter. Pretorius tacked on the PAT for a 42-0 lead, then booted a pair of field goals to finish out the Ohio State scoring. He drilled a season-long 49-yarder with 4:25 left in the third period and added a 31-yarder with 9:42 remaining in the game.
The Flashes scored their only points on a 34-yard field from Nate Reed with 2:36 left in the game.
While Ohio State was taking a breather from Big Ten play, Iowa knocked off Illinois, 10-6, in Iowa City while Michigan rolled to a 48-21 win over Purdue in Ann Arbor. Illinois’ loss and Michigan’s win left the Buckeyes and Wolverines alone atop the conference standings with 3-0 records. Every other league team has at least one conference loss.
The Buckeyes (7-0, 3-0) return to Big Ten play next week against Michigan State. The game at Ohio Stadium is set for 3:30 p.m. Eastern, will serve as OSU’s homecoming game and is scheduled to be telecast by ABC.