Ohio State torches Toledo 77-21 to improve to 3-0

COLUMBUS -- Ohio State scored on all six of its first half possessions against Toledo on Saturday night, and the Buckeyes rarely looked back.

Coach Ryan Day’s team was deep into the depth chart before a 77-21 victory was done, and the third-ranked Buckeyes were 3-0 heading into Big Ten play.

While build a 42-14 halftime lead, C.J. Stroud threw two touchdown passes to Marvin Harrison Jr. and two more to Julian Fleming, including a highlight-reel grabs by both.

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Ohio State wasted no time, taking the opening kickoff and driving 82 yards for a touchdown.

TreVeyon Henderson capped it with a seven-yard run that was set up by a play-action pass from Stroud to tight end Cade Stover for 38 yards to put the Buckeyes in the red zone.

Toledo responded quickly as Dequan Finn scrambled into space on the Rockets’ fourth play then fired deep Thomas Cluckey, who got behind cornerback Cam Brown and scored from 50 yards out.

Ohio State needed only six plays to answer as Stroud found Harrison in the end zone from eight yards out. He had a tight window to hit the sophomore receiver, who went airborne but got both feet down in the end zone for the score.

After the Buckeyes forced a three-and-out that featured a pair of tackles for loss, the offense kept humming.

Stroud rifled a pass just over a defender’s hands to Harrison for a 42-yard play that put the Buckeyes at the 3-yard line. After a run was stuffed, Stroud missed a wide-open Stover in the end zone on a play-action pass that Woody Hayes probably would have recognized, then Emeka Egbuka capped it with a 3-yard end-around run.

After another highlight-reel touchdown pass from Stroud — this time hauled in by Fleming — the Rockets struck back with their own talented quarterback.

Finn engineered an 85-yard scoring drive nearly all on his own, keeping it alive with a 23-yard scramble on third-and-12 and 12-yard pass on fourth-and-5. He finished it with a 23-yard scramble when he just eluded a diving Steele Chambers at the line of scrimmage then dove over the goal line ahead of the pursuit.

That cut Ohio State’s lead to 28-14 with 10:41 still left in the second quarter.

Soon the advantage was back to three touchdowns as Stroud led the Buckeyes on another 75-yard march, this one concluding with Harrison collecting a pass in the back of the end zone and tapping both toes to make sure it counted.

The next Ohio State possession, it was Fleming’s turn again. He caught an 11-yard slant from Stroud to put the game further out of each with 47 seconds left in the half.

Stroud completed 18 of 20 passes for 297 yards in the first half while Harrison had six catches for 102 yards.

Finn finished the first 30 minutes with 96 yards passing and 72 yards on the ground, but the rest of the Rockets accounted for only six yards.

Ohio State scored again to open the second half as Mitch Rossi powered in from the 1-yard line, but Toledo struck back with a 40-yard touchdown pass from Finn to Jerjuan Newton. After scrambling to buy time, Finn flung a pass high in the air that Ohio State cornerback Denzel Burke appeared to have a chance to defend, but Newton grabbed it out of the air and was able to get across the goal line.

Ohio State’s No. 1 offense finished its night with five minutes left in the third quarter when Stroud found Egbuka for a 7-yard touchdown pass.

The second team offense found the end zone early in the fourth quarter when Dallan Hayden took it in from a yard out and again when Kyle McCord and Jayden Ballard hooked up for a 72-yard touchdown pass.

And the Buckeyes weren’t done. They tacked on an 11th touchdown of the night midway through the fourth quarter when walk-on T.C. Caffey broke multiple tackles and went 49 yards to make it 77-21.

Stroud finished with 367 yards on 22-for-27 passing while Harrison Jr. had his second straight big game, hauling in six passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns.

Egbuka led the Buckeyes with seven catches for 116 yards. He caught a touchdown pass and ran for another while Julian Fleming caught three passes for 23 yards and found the end zone twice in his season debut.

Late in the game, Ballard’s long catch-and-run put him over the century mark, too. He finished with 113, marking the second time Ohio State has had three 100-yard receiver in the same game. It also happened last season against Oregon.

Dallan Hayden led the rushing attack with 108 yards on 17 carries, handling most of the load in the second half after TreVeyon Henderson left with an apparent injury. Miyan Williams added 77 yards on 10 carries.

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