COLLEGE PARK, Md. – It’s been a long, tough season for Maryland Terrapins football. Randy Edsall failed to make it through his fifth season as head coach; he was fired after Maryland’s 49-28 loss at Ohio State on October 10, and was replaced by Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Mike Locksley. However, that hasn’t helped matters much.
Maryland came into its Senior Day game against Indiana at Byrd Stadium on a seven-game losing streak. Quarterback play, protecting the football and penalties have plagued the Terrapins all season long. Meanwhile, Indiana was coming off a 48-41 double-overtime loss to number 14 (College Football Playoff rankings) Michigan. Earlier in November, the Hoosiers gave a scare to ninth-ranked Iowa before ultimately falling to the Big Ten West-leading Hawkeyes, 35-27 on Nov. 7. In October, Indiana gave top-ranked Ohio State everything it could handle before ultimately falling to the Buckeyes, 34-27 on Oct. 3. Both teams came in winless in conference play.
Before the game, Maryland honored its 15 senior players on the field in a pregame ceremony. The players posed for pictures with coaches before joining their families and framed jerseys. Locksley said he and his players really wanted to win this game for the seniors.
“I want to thank our seniors for the great leadership they’ve provided us here the past six weeks or through the past four or five years. These guys have had some tremendous times here. They’ve done some really good things. Obviously, we’re finishing this thing up, we’re struggling a little bit, but these guys continue to be great leaders for us,” Locksley said.
Indiana got the ball first after Maryland won the toss and deferred its option to the second half. Hoosiers quarterback Nate Sudfeld connected with wide receiver Mitchell Paige for a 34-yard pass to the Maryland 19. Running back Devine Redding ran for 13 yards to give Indiana a first-and-goal at the Maryland 6, but Maryland’s defense stiffened and forced Indiana to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Griffin Oakes with 11:24 left in the first quarter. When Maryland got the ball for its first possession, the Terrapins wasted no time in answering.
On Maryland’s second play from scrimmage, senior running back Brandon Ross broke free for a 79-yard touchdown run to give the Terrapins the lead. Adam Greene, filling in for the reliable but injured Brad Craddock, knocked in the extra point off the right upright to give Maryland a 7-3 lead just 50 seconds after getting the ball. The run was the longest of Ross’ career. Ross wasn’t done yet in the first quarter. After forcing a punt, Maryland started on its own 13. After driving up to Indiana’s 22, Ross finished the drive with another touchdown run to give the Terrapins a 14-3 lead with 7:10 left in the first. Ross’ second touchdown run capped a nine-play, 87-yard drive that covered two minutes and 15 seconds. Maryland’s defense then started to force the issue.
Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue sacked Sudfeld and forced a fumble that was recovered by Quinton Jefferson at the Indiana 20. That gave Ngakoue 13.5 sacks on the season, making him Maryland’s all-time single-season leader in sacks. Four plays later, Rowe found receiver Malcolm Culmer for a 14-yard touchdown that gave Maryland a 21-3 lead with five and a half minutes left in the opening quarter. Sudfeld finally did get into a rhythm, connecting on four straight passes, including a 19-yard touchdown pass to Paige to pull the Hoosiers back to within 21-10 with a minute and a half left in the first quarter. He then hit Andre Booker for a 59-yard touchdown that cut Maryland’s lead to four just under a minute into the second quarter. The Hoosiers recovered an onside kick, and eight plays later, Sudfeld leaped over the pile from just outside the goal line to give Indiana a 24-21 lead. The Hoosiers stretched the lead to six with eight minutes left in the first half after being forced to settle for another short field goal after driving inside the Maryland 10. Indiana led 30-21 at halftime. Coach Locksley described how Sudfeld hit some big passes in the second quarter, and Indiana took advantage of Maryland’s man-to-man coverage to pick up chunks of yardage to get back into the game.
“Got to give Indiana credit; this is a team that fought back from a first-quarter deficit, and continued to play. Hats off to those guys and their coaching staff for finding a way to get it done,” Locksley said.
“I couldn’t have done it without my coaches and my teammates, and it’ll be a great thing to look back down the road,” said Ngakoue, who is now three and a half sacks away from setting the school’s all-time career sack record of 25 by Andre Monroe. Ngakoue also passed Shawne Merriman for eighth in career tackles for loss with 33. He said Indiana was able to come back by taking advantage of the defense’s mistakes, and not allowing much pressure to get to Sudfeld.
Shane Cockerille replaced Rowe to start the second half after Rowe suffered a concussion late in the first half. Cockerille was stopped for no gain on the first play of the second half, but Ross got loose for his third big play of the game. He took a draw to the right, turned the corner, tip-toed the Maryland sideline and took off for a 75-yard touchdown run to pull the Terps to within two. However, after Greene’s onside kick went out of bounds to give Indiana the ball at the Maryland 44-yard line, and the defense wasn’t able to make a stop. Sudfeld hit Paige with a six-yard pass for a second touchdown to re-establish Indiana’s nine-point lead less than two minutes into the second half. Indiana didn’t let up after another penalty on special teams. Sudfeld hit Simmie Cobbs, Jr. on a crossing route; two Maryland players ran into each other on the play, and that allowed Cobbs to get all the way down to the Terrapins four-yard line before he was pushed out of bounds. Two plays later, tight end Michael caught a three-yard touchdown pass to extend the Hoosier lead to 44-28 with just under 10 minutes left in the third quarter. The quarter ended with Indiana leading 47-28, and that would prove to be the final score as the Hoosiers won their first conference game. Sudfeld finished with 385 yards and four touchdowns passing. Maryland will close out the regular season over Thanksgiving weekend at Rutgers on Nov. 28.
Ross became the first player in the history of Maryland football to run for at least 250 yards and three touchdowns in the same game. He’s now ninth on the team’s all-time rushing list with 2,375 yards in his career, and says he saw a lot of room to run.
“I just saw huge holes, that’s it,” said Ross. “I have to give a lot of credit to the (offensive) line, of course. I was just following their blocks.” Ross said, describing how he followed Culmer’s block on his third-quarter touchdown run. He says his first touchdown run gave him a lot of momentum to start his final game at Byrd Stadium.
Senior Will Likely, who’s a candidate for several awards, started at wide receiver, in addition to cornerback and returning kicks. However, he was also knocked out with an injury late in the third quarter. Locksley described how injuries played into the decision to start Likely at receiver.
“Going into the game this week, as we prepared on Sunday, DeAndre Lane, who had been our starter as the inside receiver, was ruled out. He had a mid-foot injury from the Michigan State game. Levern Jacobs has been nursing a hamstring for the last two, three weeks, along with a knee injury, and we’re just out of bodies. And so we made the decision to start Will on the offensive side of the ball and play both sides for us. It wasn’t a package; I mean he practiced on the offensive side of the ball primarily all week,” Locksley said. “We did that in order to get a really good player on the field to help us try to win a ball game, especially knowing that Perry (Hills) was going to be out of the game with mono. We knew we would have to throw the ball to try to win against this team because of how they structure themselves defensively.”
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in France, security was stepped up at Byrd Stadium. Fans were allowed to bring in bags that measured no larger than eight inches by 11 inches by 12 inches. All other bags, including backpacks, were not allowed into the stadium. Fans were subjected to enhanced screenings at all the gates. These increased security measures will apply to all future sporting events at the University, including basketball games at the Xfinity Center.