Ohio State did what it was supposed to do against Akron.
After allowing Akron to take a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, the Buckeyes scored 59 unanswered points to pull away from the Zips and earn a decisive 59-7 victory in their final non-conference game of the 2021 regular season.
Kyle McCord started at quarterback in his first game appearance as a Buckeye and completed 13 of 18 passing attempts for 319 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
|#10 Ohio State||14||24||14||7||59|
|SEPT. 25, 2021 • OHIO STADIUM • COLUMBUS, OHIO|
McCord’s debut got off to a rough start, as each of his first three passing attempts of the game fell incomplete (though one of them didn’t count as an incompletion because it was ruled to be a backward pass). After Ohio State punted on its opening possession, Akron drove 55 plays on nine plays, capped by a 4-yard touchdown pass from DJ Irons to a wide open Konata Mumpfield, to take the early advantage.
The first completion and first touchdown pass of McCord’s Ohio State career came on the Buckeyes’ second drive, which started with Jaxon Smith-Njigba gaining 22 yards on a shovel pass from McCord and ended with Chris Olave scoring a 5-yard touchdown on a shovel pass from McCord. In between, TreVeyon Henderson – who paired with McCord to become the first-ever true freshman quarterback/running back duo to start a game for Ohio State – got the Buckeyes into the red zone with a 35-yard run.
Ohio State took its first lead of the night with 11 seconds to play in the first quarter when Henderson ran for a 3-yard touchdown on the Buckeyes’ next possession. That touchdown run was set up by a 57-yard gain by Garrett Wilson on a screen pass from McCord, complete with a vicious stiff arm.
|6.8||AVERAGE per RUSH||1.9|
|21.4||AVERAGE per COMPLETION||8.5|
|10.2||YARDS per PLAY||3.1|
|8-11||third down conv||5-17|
Smith-Njigba extended the Buckeyes’ lead to 21-7 on their next possession when he adjusted to catch a slightly underthrown pass from McCord for a 34-yard touchdown.
Ohio State linebacker Cody Simon intercepted a pass into double coverage by Irons on Akron’s next possession, and Henderson extended the lead to 28-7 with a 14-yard touchdown run.
Ronnie Hickman intercepted another Irons pass on Akron’s next possession – his second interception in as many weeks – and returned it 46 yards to the end zone for a pick-six, scoring his first career touchdown and extending Ohio State’s lead to 35-7.
Two possessions later, Ohio State added three more points before halftime. Despite getting the ball back with 14 seconds to play in the second quarter, the Buckeyes decided to take a deep shot downfield, and McCord completed a 39-yard pass to Wilson to set up a 32-yard Noah Ruggles field goal.
McCord threw his first career interception on Ohio State’s opening possession of the third quarter when Akron safety Charles Amankwaa picked off a pass intended for Cade Stover. On Ohio State’s next possession, though, Emeka Egbuka turned his first career catch into an 85-yard gain – tying the third-longest reception in Ohio State history – to set up a 2-yard Master Teague touchdown run on the next play.
Teague scored another touchdown from 15 yards out on the Buckeyes’ next possession after Jack Miller completed the first two passing attempts of his Ohio State career.
Freshman running back Evan Pryor, in his first game appearance as a Buckeye, ran for a 12-yard touchdown with 2:47 to play for the final score of the night.
- Four true freshmen for Ohio State against Akron: McCord, Henderson, defensive end J.T. Tuimoloau and cornerback Denzel Burke. It was the first time four true freshmen started a game for the Buckeyes since 1944.
- Three Buckeyes made their first career starts against the Zips: McCord, Tuimoloau and redshirt freshman cover safety Cameron Martinez. Martinez replaced Lathan Ransom, who played snaps at free safety behind Bryson Shaw against Akron, in the starting lineup.
- Cody Simon started over Tommy Eichenberg at middle linebacker, while Sevyn Banks made his first start of the season at cornerback with Cameron Brown unavailable. Simon appeared to suffer an arm/shoulder injury late in the first half and did not play in the second half.
- Chris Olave, Kamryn Babb, Zach Harrison and Teradja Mitchell were the game captains for the opening coin toss.
- Jantzen Dunn made his Ohio State debut as a member of the kickoff coverage team.
- True freshman defensive tackle Mike Hall made his Ohio State debut in the first quarter.
- Saturday's game was the third straight game against a MAC opponent in which Ohio State's opponent scored first. Miami (Ohio) took an early 5-0 lead against Ohio State in 2019, while Bowling Green took an early 7-0 lead on a pick-six in 2016.
- Backup linebacker K'Vaughan Pope was escorted back to the locker room in the second quarter following an outburst on the sideline. Pope attempted to enter the game in a defensive sub-package and had to be pulled off the field by Mitchell, then took his gloves off and threw them into the stands before being back taken out of the stadium by director of player development C.J. Barnett.
- Attendance for Saturday night's game was 95,178, nearly 20,000 more people than the previous game against Tulsa.
- Freshman wide receiver Jayden Ballard made his Ohio State debut on the Buckeyes' opening possession of the third quarter.
- Redshirt freshman safety Kourt Williams played the first defensive snaps of his Ohio State career in the third quarter.
- Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaden McKenzie played his first defensive snaps of the season in the third quarter.
- Freshman wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. made his first career catch as a Buckeye in the third quarter for a 9-yard gain.
- Walk-on freshman Toby Wilson made his Ohio State debut in the third quarter as the Buckeyes' second-team center.
- Freshman defensive end Jack Sawyer made his first career sack in the fourth quarter.
- Haskell Garrett, who had just two career sacks going into Saturday's game, had three sacks against Akron.
- Freshman running back Evan Pryor made his Ohio State debut in the fourth quarter.
- Walk-on wide receiver Chris Booker made his first career catch as a Buckeye in the fourth quarter for a 16-yard gain.
- Marcus Hooker, who started five games at free safety for Ohio State in 2020, played his first defensive snaps of the season in the fourth quarter.
- Freshman linebacker Reid Carrico made his first career tackle in the fourth quarter.