By Max Marcilla
Sophomore quarterback Max Bortenschlager was making his second career start, and after a Minnesota touchdown evened the score at 24 with just under four minutes left, he had his chance to shine.
Bortenschlager was as poised as his fellow quarterbacks Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill, both of whom will miss the remainder of the season with torn ACLs. He completed an out route on third down to move the chains, and then running back Ty Johnson did the rest.
Johnson dashed 34 yards up the middle for the go-ahead score to give Maryland a 31-24 lead that it would not relinquish.
It was head coach DJ Durkin’s first career Big Ten road victory and a critical win for the Terrapins.
The Terps came out aggressive and utilized all of their weapons — Johnson, Lorenzo Harrison and D.J. Moore — in order to help sophomore quarterback Max Bortenschlager, who was making his second career start.
The opening drive was sustained by timely third down conversion, but Maryland failed to come away with any points; Durkin called for a fake field goal, which was unsuccessful.
However, the success Maryland displayed on the ground was evident throughout the remainder of the game. Johnson racked up 130 yards on 18 carries while Harrison added 75 yards on 17 attempts.
It was an impressive showing from the dynamic duo, which tore up a Minnesota defense that entered Saturday’s action first in the Big Ten in rushing defense.
Meanwhile, the Golden Gophers struggled to find any sort of success on the ground. Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks combined for 74 yards on 30 carries, under 2.5 yards per carry. They were able to keep up with the Terps in the first half, though, after a pair of long passes to tight ends set up a one-yard Smith rushing touchdown.
Late in the first half, Maryland was able to reap the benefits from Durkin’s aggressive style of play. After a completion to Taivon Jacobs near midfield with just six seconds left in the half, the Gophers went into a prevent defense, expecting a Bortenschlager deep ball to end the half. Durkin dialed up a handoff to Johnson, who scampered up the middle, picked up a first down and slid down to preserve any time.
Henry Darmstadter then drilled a career-long 51-yard field goal to extend Maryland’s lead to 17-10.
The Gophers were able to even the score in the third quarter, but early in the fourth quarter the Terrapins 11-play, 65-yard drive helped them regain the lead. It was capped off by a Jake Funk 11-yard receiving touchdown, his second score on the season.
Minnesota was able to drive down the field and enter the red zone, but an untimely offensive pass interference set up a 2nd-and-26. The Gophers responded, completing a 35-yard pass to Eric Carter that set up a one-yard touchdown run.
That was when Bortenschlager’s offense took the field and Johnson scored the eventual game-winning touchdown.
Minnesota had one final chance to tie the game, but cornerback JC Jackson jumped a Conor Rhoda pass for an interception, sealing the Terps second road victory of the season.
The Terps will travel to Colombus, Ohio to take on the 11th-ranked Buckeyes next Saturday.