COLUMBUS — If defense truly does win championships, Ohio State had better prepare to clear some space in its trophy room.
The No. 3 Buckeyes put up another defensive gem Saturday afternoon, pounding Kent State 48-3 during a midseason break in the Big Ten schedule. The Golden Flashes touted the nation’s fifth-best running back in sophomore Eugene Jarvis, and the 5-foot-5 speedster did have some early success against the Buckeyes.
Jarvis rushed eight times during the opening quarter for 52 yards — a 6.5 yards-per-carry average — but only added 33 yards the remainder of the game. The 84 yards pushed his season total to 935.
“He’s a good back and it was a great challenge for our defense,” Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel said.
“We were whacking them good and getting them down a lot of the time, and occasionally he was bouncing off.”
But complaining about Jarvis’ yards or the field goal Kent State (3-4) kicked in the closing minutes against the Buckeye reserves would be nitpicking.
Ohio State (7-0) is riding a school-record 25-game regular-season winning streak — the last regular-season loss came at Penn State in 2005 — and the Buckeyes have been able to keep the run alive this season because of their stalwart defense.
The Buckeyes have held their first seven opponents to a combined 46 points, the lowest total allowed in more 30 years. They have yet to allow an offensive touchdown in four home games and have allowed just two offensive touchdowns the past 16 quarters.
“As a whole, we play great,” freshman defensive end Cameron Heyward said. “It is not an individual thing for us because we work together as a team to reach our goals.”
The goal of a shutout was dashed against the Golden Flashes, but the Buckeye defenders had to like the fact they outscored Kent State by themselves.
On second-and-3 from the Ohio State 35-yard line, Kent State quarterback Julian Edelman rushed a sideline pass that redshirt sophomore cornerback Donald Washington stepped in front of and returned 70 yards for a touchdown that gave the Buckeyes a 28-0 lead late in the second quarter.
“It feels really good to see Donald get that touchdown and shine a little bit,” junior cornerback Malcolm Jenkins said. “He is a more important part of this defense than what people give him credit for and it’s good to see him get some attention.”
The interception return for a touchdown was a career first for Washington, who also picked up his first career sack Saturday.
“I had two go for a touchdown during my senior year (of high school),” he said. “The difference is in high school there’s 5,000 watching and today there was a 105,000 watching.
“I’m just one of 11 guys out there making sure I do my job.”
The Buckeyes also scored a special-teams touchdown when Brian Hartline returned a punt a school-record 90 yards early in the second quarter. Hartline had put Ohio State on the scoreboard with a 14-yard touchdown on a pass from Todd Boeckman.
“It is really exciting to have my name in the record book,” Hartline said. “Hopefully this will not be the last one I break.”
Boeckman added a second touchdown pass to Maurice Wells, sophomore running back Chris Wells punched one in from 7 yards out, backup quarterback Rob Schoenhoft ran one in during the third quarter and Ryan Pretorius kicked a pair of field goals to cap the scoring.
“We had an opportunity to get a lot of guys some playing time, which is a good thing,” Tressel said. “I guess we’re happy to have this delay in the Big Ten schedule with a non-conference game turning into a win.
“We know full well that what’s really critical begins next Saturday.”
Contact Shaun Bennett at 329-7137 or firstname.lastname@example.org.