By Max Marcilla
Throughout the 2017 season, the Maryland football team has had to deal with adversity. There was the time when it had to overcome a pick-six on the opening drive of a road game against then-No. 23 Texas; there were also times that the Terrapins were unable to overcome adversity, such as home losses to UCF and Northwestern.
But in Maryland’s 42-39 victory over the Indiana Hoosiers on Homecoming Saturday, the Terps were able to fight adversity and overcome a pair of deficits: 14-0 early in the first quarter, and 33-28 in the second half.
On Indiana’s opening drive, the Terps were flagged for a pair of offside penalties, the second one enabled Indiana’s quarterback Peyton Ramsey to take a shot downfield and score the game’s first touchdown.
The Terrapins’ early struggles continued. Max Bortenschlager’s second pass was intercepted and Ramsey capitalized, driving the Hoosiers down the field for another score.
The 14-point deficit was the largest that Maryland has overcome in a win so far during the DJ Durkin era.
Darnell Savage Jr. single-handedly flipped the momentum in Maryland’s favor.
On a third-and-five from Indiana’s 24-yard line, Savage intercepted Ramsey’s pass and returned it to the 15-yard line. The next snap resulted in a 15-yard rushing touchdown by Lorenzo Harrison, getting Maryland on the scoreboard.
While the interception was a crucial play, but perhaps not Savage’s best. A few drives after Indiana built a 16-7 lead after recording a safety, Savage was able to block a Hoosier punt and return it 16 yards for a Maryland touchdown. It was the Terps’ first blocked punt returned for a touchdown since their season opening win against Howard in 2016.
Savage’s defensive and special teams heroics brought the Terps within two points, but it wasn’t until wide receiver DJ Moore took over that Maryland was finally able to capture a lead.
Late in the second quarter, Moore hauled in another highlight-reel catch, a 33-yard one-handed reception, to set the Terps up in the red zone. Just a few plays later, Moore caught a two-yard touchdown on a fade route, his eighth receiving touchdown of the season.
While the Terps led at halftime, the game was far from over. It was reminiscent of the last time these two Big Ten foes met: a 2016 game in Bloomington in which Indiana overcame a halftime deficit to top the Terps.
After Indiana regained the lead with a touchdown in the third quarter, and later extended its lead to five with a field goal, Javon Leake provided another special teams spark for the Terps.
The freshman’s 82-yard kickoff return set up Jake Funk’s go-ahead 1-yard touchdown. Funk later scored punched in another 1-yard touchdown.
Indiana scored another touchdown, but fell short of completing the comeback. On its last possession, which started at the one-yard line, the Hoosiers moved the chains a few times before a turnover on downs ended all hopes of a comeback.
With the win, Maryland moves to 4-5 on the season and keep its bowl game hopes alive. The Terps have a winnable game in Piscataway, New Jersey against Rutgers next week before returning home to host Michigan.
Durkin would be the first Maryland head coach to make bowl games in each of his first two seasons since the Ralph Friedgen-led Terrapins made bowl games from 2001-03.