ATLANTA — Ohio State star receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. was knocked out of Saturday’s loss to Georgia in the College Football Playoff semifinals at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl with a concussion.
Buckeyes coach Ryan Day said Harrison was put into concussion protocol after he took a massive hit from Georgia defensive back Javon Bullard in the end zone with less than a minute left in the third quarter. He was examined by the medical staff and remained on the Ohio State sideline but did not reenter the game.
Referees initially penalized Bullard for targeting, but the call was overturned upon review.
“I was told that it was not targeting, that [Harrison] didn’t take a shot to the head, which is hard for — I didn’t see it, so I don’t know,” Day said. “But to get a concussion and not get hit in the head — I have to see the replay.”
Harrison said he felt good enough to return. When asked if he was aware the entire time, he said yes.
“It was just a regular hit,” he said. “I felt like I was good enough to go back in the game.”
Harrison said he “absolutely” wanted to return but respected the trainers’ decision to hold him out. Ohio State trainer Shaun Barnhouse had multiple conversations with Harrison on the sideline.
“At the end of the day, they are looking out for my health and safety,” said Harrison, who had five catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns. “I respect their decision.”
Ohio State was leading 35-24 when Harrison took the hit. The Buckeyes settled for a field goal to extend their lead to 14 points.
From then on, Georgia outscored Ohio State 18-3.
Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Adonai Mitchell to take a one-point lead with 54 seconds left.
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud drove the offense 43 yards in 51 seconds, but Noah Ruggles missed a 50-yard field goal attempt with three seconds left.
“To say that losing Marvin had an impact on the game, it absolutely did,” Day said.
But it wasn’t just Harrison’s loss that affected the Ohio State offense. Starting tight end Cade Stover left the game with a lower back injury in the first quarter.
“We lost Cade early in the game, which really sent us into a little tailspin in a couple of groupings,” Day said.
Still, Stroud had one of his best games of the season, bouncing back from a poor performance in a loss to Michigan that nearly left Ohio State out of the playoff.
Stroud completed 23 of 34 passes for 348 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He also ran for 34 yards.
“I think we should have won the game, of course,” Stroud said.
Day said the same.
“I don’t think there’s one guy in that locker room who doesn’t feel like we should have won the game,” he said. “And I think, again, that’s a part of this thing that’s going to sit in our stomachs for a long time.”
Harrison said it “hurt bad” not to be out with his teammates.
“Fourth quarter, College Football Playoffs, chance to go to the national championship,” he said. “I wish I could have been out there with my teammates.”
Harrison also said he wished he’d performed better.
“I don’t think I made enough plays when I was in the game to help the team win,” he said. “I didn’t perform my best today. I’m going to go back to the drawing board and try and get better next year.”
ESPN’s Pete Thamel contributed to this report.