Lathan Ransom and Tommy Eichenberg

Lathan Ransom and Tommy Eichenberg battle hand injuries to lead Ohio State’s defense against Maryland

Tommy Eichenberg was Ohio State’s leading tackle against Maryland, and Lathan Ransom made one of the most important plays in the Buckeyes’ 43-30 win over the Terrapins. Neither was healthy for more than one game of Saturday’s game.

Eichenberg, according to Ohio State defensive end Zach Harrison, was playing with “two broken hands” against the Terrapins. Meanwhile, Ransom broke his thumb on Ohio State’s first defensive play.

That didn’t stop either from making a significant impact at College Park, as Eichenberg recorded 13 total tackles, including a tackle for loss. By comparison, Ransom recorded seven total tackles with a tackle for loss, a pass breakup and his second blocked punt in as many weeks.

Harrison said their toughness inspired the rest of Ohio State’s defense.

“Just seeing them there with the injuries they have, makes us say, ‘We’re cool,'” Harrison said. “If Tommy is over there with two broken hands and Lathan is minding what he’s dealing with and they’re over there on the court playing, like what do I say if I have a little sore or if my knee is hurt or so on. I just have to go play. We all have to go play.

Ransom, likewise, said he was inspired to play through his injury by Eichenberg.

“Tommy is playing with two bad hands,” Ransom said. “What’s my excuse for not going over there and playing?”

Lathan Ransom

Lathan Ransom played the rest of the game with a cast on his hand after breaking his thumb on Ohio State’s first defensive play.

Despite his injured two hands, Eichenberg continued to play like an All-American against Maryland, recording at least 13 tackles in a game for the fourth time this season to bring his total tackles for the year to 105 – the most than Buckeye has had in a season since 2015.

Ransom, meanwhile, turned the game’s momentum in Ohio State’s favor when the Buckeyes needed a swing. As Maryland faced 2nd and 4th in the second-half opener, Ransom made an 8-yard tackle for a loss to Terrapins tight end CJ Dippre, who he said , came on the same play on which Ransom broke his thumb and Dippre gained 25 yards on Maryland’s first offensive play of the game.

“It was a big, big explosive early in the game. It was on me. And I had to sort that out, make adjustments and not let that happen again,” Ransom said.

Two plays later, Ransom exploded from the edge to block a punt attempt by Maryland’s Colton Spangler, knocking the ball down with his injured hand to give the Buckeyes the ball deep in Maryland territory and set up a touchdown that gave Ohio State a lead it would hold for the remainder of the game after previously leading 13-10.

Ryan Day raved about Ransom’s performance after the match.

“To block two punts in consecutive weeks…it’s amazing,” Day said. “It was a really huge point of the game and gave us a lot of momentum.”

Harrison described Ransom, who became the first Buckeye to block punts in back-to-back games since Mike Doss in 2001, as “one of the toughest guys on this team.”

“We were on the sidelines, and Lathan walked over and he said, ‘Brother, my hand is broken,'” Harrison said. “I was like, ‘Shit. Are you going to play?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, I have to play.’ … Him and Tommy, just having those two guys there with what they’re dealing with, it just makes you feel like, ‘Well, I’m fine.’ My hands are working. I’m fine.”

Saturday’s game was far from the best performance of the year for the Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes gave up 318 passing yards and four touchdowns, the second they’ve allowed in any game this season (behind only the Penn State game, in which they gave up 31 points and 371 passing yards). pass). Given that most of the other nine teams the Buckeyes have faced this season are teams that have consistently struggled to pass the ball effectively, pass defense stands out as one of the biggest concerns in the state. Ohio entering next week’s game against Michigan and beyond in the playoffs.

Harrison and Ransom said they should go back and watch the movie to assess why Ohio State’s pass defense was struggling against Maryland, but Day acknowledged the pass defense needed to play better.

“I thought (Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa) played his heart out today. I thought he played really well. Did a good job. But yeah, I mean, there are games in there that we need to look at and try to figure out what’s going on there because, definitely, we’d like to see better play,” Day said. “Our number one goal in the plan to win is to play great defense. And they threw too many yards today, that’s for sure. But let’s take a look and try to understand this part of the problem.

In the end, however, the Ohio State defense made enough plays for the Buckeyes to win the game. The Buckeyes held the Terrapins to score red-zone goals on each of their two opening possessions – which prevented Maryland from taking a bigger lead earlier in the game – and they allowed no runs on Maryland’s last three possessions, ultimately sealing the game. when Harrison fired Tagovailoa and Steele Chambers ripped the ball in the air for a touchdown with just nine seconds left.

Every time the Buckeyes have been in close games this season, from their season opener at Notre Dame to their more recent battles with Penn State and Northwestern, Ohio State’s defense has managed to make the plays the Buckeyes needed. need them to do with the game on the line. Harrison believes it’s a credit to the confidence in them from first-year defensive coordinator Jim Knowles.

“The game is never out of reach. If we get a lead, we think we can win the game. If they have to score to regain the lead, that’s just something I keep coming back to, Coach Knowles brought that mentality that every time we step onto the pitch we’re the best defense in the country,” Harrison said. “And that’s what we really believe.”

Harrison also thinks the Buckeyes having to fight Maryland was a good thing as they head into a game they know will be a battle next week against Michigan.

“I think we needed it,” Harrison said. “I think we needed a good close game that went down the wire to prove to ourselves that we can beat anyone in any type of game we play.”


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