By: Eddie Hobbs
After a lackluster game against the Temple Owls last week, Maryland (3-1) came out of the gate against Minnesota (3-1) with a fiery first drive, moving down the field for 8 plays, 75 yards, and never looked back in its 42-13 win over the Golden Gophers.
Last week against Temple, Maryland’s defense and special teams accounted for all 14 of Maryland’s points. But against Minnesota, Maryland’s offense looked vastly different. The return of Derwin Gray and Terrance Davis on the offensive line ignited the Terps’ offense, helping the rushing attack gain 315 yards.
Tackle Damian Prince was held out yet again with an undisclosed injury. Interim head coach Matt Canada still hasn’t given a timetable for when Prince will see action on the field.
Another player who has missed time has been sophomore running back Lorenzo Harrison, one of the many rushers in the deep backfield for Canada. Harrison is also missing his second-straight game.
“He did not practice Tuesday full speed, he practiced limited Wednesday pretty good. We weren’t sure where he was at,” Canada said, “He was ready to play if we needed him.”
Even with Harrison out, as well as Jake Funk, the rushing attack for the Terps hasn’t slowed down. Redshirt freshman Anthony McFarland and senior Ty Johnson carried the load, combining for 235 yards and 3 touchdowns on 17 carries.
Out of Minnesota’s first six drives, the Golden Gophers were only mustered three points thanks to a stingy defensive effort from the Terps. The defensive unit stood tall at the most important times as Minnesota was 0-for-7 on third downs in the first half.
On the final Minnesota drive of the first half, Maryland helped the Gophers move down the field with a facemask and pass interference penalties. Minnesota drove down to Maryland’s 17-yard line and walk-on freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad completed a nice back-shoulder pass to Rashod Bateman to cut Maryland’s lead to 21-10 going into the half.
Minnesota received the ball to start the third quarter and were looking to build some momentum after the touchdown at the end of the half. On the second play of the third quarter, Annexstad dropped back to pass, and threw it right into the hands of Maryland linebacker Tre Watson, who returned it 36 yards for the score to give Maryland a comfortable 28-10 lead.
“The ball is in the air, it’s gotta be mine,” Watson said. “That’s all of our approach as soon as the ball’s in the air, so after that point it was basically a free-line to the endzone… no better feeling than being in the endzone for the team.”
The fireworks didn’t stop with the Watson interception. On Maryland’s very next drive, McFarland found a gaping hole through the right side of the line and took it 64 yards for the score to extend Maryland’s lead to 35-13 midway through the third quarter. It was McFarland’s second-straight game with 100+ rushing yards.
Maryland’s win over Minnesota came at a cost, as senior safety Darnell Savage went down midway through the second quarter. Savage ran downhill to tackle Rashod Bateman on the near side of the field, but stayed on the ground after the hit. Savage was taken to the red tent on the sideline and then into the locker room and did not return to the game.
Even with Savage missing time, Maryland’s defense limited Minnesota to just 3 points in the second half, and did so through pressure up front and tight coverage in the secondary.
After allowing Temple to score 35 points last week, Maryland was resilient against Minnesota and Canada praised his players after an impressive win over a conference opponent.
“These kids are special,” Canada said with excitement. “What they go through and how they came back, they’re awesome. The kids are awesome. We are so proud of our players and how hard they play and how they stick together… it’s impressive.”