COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Kyle McCord throwing touchdown passes to Marvin Harrison Jr. seems natural to the two Ohio State teammates who played high school football together at St. Joseph's Prep in Philadelphia.
But it hadn't happened in college football until Saturday. McCord, starting for the Buckeyes in his third year in the program, hooked up with the All-American receiver for two TDs in a 35-7 win over Youngstown State.
“That was cool,” said McCord, who was 14 for 20 for 258 yards. “Probably. I first started with him my sophomore year (in high school) to now, so it’s been a long time coming.”
McCord threw both TD passes to Harrison and another to Emeka Egbuka in the first half, a solid bounce-back against a lesser opponent after a shaky opener at Indiana last week.
“He got into a rhythm and showed he could make some of those throws," Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said. “He looked comfortable for sure in this game.”
TreVeyon Henderson rushed for a pair of scores, but the Ohio State ground game again was underwhelming. The backs gained just 123 yards after piecing together just 143 last week.
Harrison was looking for a big day after only two catches for 18 yards and zero touchdowns in a lackluster offensive effort for the Buckeyes in the Week 1 win. He finished with seven catches for 160 yards — all in the first half.
McCord won the starting quarterback job over Devin Brown the week before the opener. Brown got the first significant playing time of his career, completing 7 of 13 passes for 101 yards.
“I think definitely the emotions were more calm,” McCord said.
Ohio State led 28-7 at the half. Youngstown State ate up half the third quarter with an 11-play drive, but that effort was wasted when Ohio State's Denzel Burke intercepted backup quarterback Beau Brungard's pass in the end zone.
“We needed to go down and score, needed to chip away, needed to get it to 28 to 14 and give ourselves a chance," Youngstown State coach Doug Phillips said. "And yeah, we had a few drives that stalled.”
Starter Mitch Davidson and Brungard combined for 135 passing yards. Tyshon King managed 66 yards on the ground for the Penguins.
The Buckeyes scored once in three second-half possessions when Henderson ran for a 30-yard TD late in the third quarter. Day attributed that partly to the new clock rules designed to speed up games. The clock no longer stops after first downs, except in the last two minutes of both halves.
“The difference right now is just the (fewer) number of plays,” he said. “That clock just seems to keep running.”
Ohio State didn't hurt itself in the AP Top 25.
Jim Tressel wore his signature red sweater vest to the game, but his rooting interest was split down the middle. Tressel, who coached at both Ohio State and Youngtown State, wore logos from both schools on his familiar sweater. Most recently, Tressel was president of Youngstown State until his retirement in February.
The Penguins answered Ohio State’s opening touchdown with an impressive 75-yard scoring drive of their own to tie the game. The highlight by a 36-yard pass from Davidson to Max Tomczak — nephew of former Buckeyes quarterback Mike Tomczak — on third-and-3 at the YSU 44. Mike Tomczak is on Phillips' staff as an advisor. That was their only score.
Youngstown State: Hosts Robert Morris (Northeast Conference) next Saturday afternoon.
Ohio State: Gets what should be a more challenging tune-up game Saturday at home against Western Kentucky ahead of a critical matchup at No. 10 Notre Dame on Sept. 23.