Coming into Saturday afternoon’s matchup against Indiana, Maryland football ranked 113th nationally in passing defense. Thus, Maryland looked poorly suited to face an Indiana team that gets 70% of their points off the pass. Indiana’s receiving core consists of three players who have all already recorded 20 catches this season.
On the other hand, Maryland’s offensive woes only worsened after their most recent loss to Purdue. The Terp needed a big game against the Hoosiers to bounce back. And while Maryland showed necessary improvement, its offensive woes became apparent in a failed fourth quarter comeback — and eventual 34-28 loss at home.
While the first quarter was shaky, the Terps began to find their footing. After a swift touchdown pass to Chig Okonkwo tied the game 7-7, Isaiah Davis was ejected in the first quarter after an unnecessary roughness call.
And the Terps would miss him. Following a failed fourth down conversion, Indiana received the ball in Maryland territory. The ensuing drive led to a Hoosier touchdown.
The momentum shifted early in the second quarter when Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. threw towards the end zone, intended for Peyton Hendershot. His pass was tipped and recovered by Antoine Brooks Jr. That turnover would become the nineteenth straight game with a turnover caused, currently the third longest streak in the country.
Chance Campbell had himself a night as he recorded nine solo tackles and two breakups. One of those breakups would have resulted in the second Indiana turnover of the day, but a Terp player wasn’t in the vicinity to recover it. He provided another big play with a diving save to swat the ball out of an Indiana player’s reach.
“We moved Chance to the starting position, he’s actually the game captain,” Coach Mike Locksley said.
Campbell started alongside Isaiah Davis at the inside linebacker spot, replacing Ayinde Eley who had started there throughout the season.
“When we have opportunities for guys who are producing and playing the game the way we want it to be played, we’re always going to try to create competition.” Locksley said.
The turnover recovered by Brooks set up a 60 yard touchdown by Javon Leake, who was a workhorse all afternoon for Maryland. He finished with 158 yards: a career high.
Leake’s first rushing touchdown of the day was the fifth 50+ yard play for Maryland this season; the most of any team in the FBS. Despite the Hoosiers ranking in the top 30 this season in total defense, total passing and total rushing, Maryland began to find rhythm.
Tyrell Pigrome first found Demus downfield, throwing a 40 yard pass to get Maryland at Indiana’s 24 yard line. Pigrome found Demus again off of a 15 yard pass to the corner of the end zone causing the Terps to take the lead with a score of 21-17 with four minutes left in the half.
Penix Jr., eventually left the game with an undisclosed injury and was replaced by Peyton Ramsey. Despite the sudden change, Ramsey did not disappoint. He quickly snagged a touchdown off of an impressive pass, laying out in the end zone.
The Hoosiers came back in the third quarter in rhythm. They scored twice as Maryland struggled to find a response.
But Pigrome threw a beautiful pass to TE Tyler Mabry, who took it all the way to the end zone. The touchdown was redacted as Mabry did stepped out of bounds at the Indiana one yard line before breaking the plane. But Javon Leake rushed it in for a touchdown.
The game only got more intense as time dwindled down in the third quarter. The two teams exchanged blows, and with time running low in the fourth, Indiana led 31-28.
After some great defensive stops by the Maryland defense, Javon Leake fumbled on a kick return. This set up Indiana perfectly, though they would have to settle for a field goal after a stop by Keandre Jones forced them into a fourth down.
Maryland had last possession of the game and ideal clock time with about two minutes left. They were given multiple breaks, including a holding call that granted them a first down on a desperate second and long. Pigrome found Okonkwo on a pair of occasions and Maryland slowly made its way towards Indiana territory. However, a bullet of a pass down field went over the head of the intended Maryland receiver and into the hands of a Hoosier.
“We work on those types of drills [two minute] at practice…the line protection was good, I just overthrew.” Pigrome said.
The Terps fell with a final score of 28-34, leaving their record at 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the Big Ten. The game, despite the result, was hard fought and showed glimpses of what Maryland could produce both offensively and defensively. But that isn’t enough for Coach Mike Locksley.
“Good teams don’t beat themselves and we continue to do it,” Locksley said. “Nobody cares about the injuries or how young the guys that are playing are. The guys that are out there are good enough, so they’re old enough.”