On the back end of a three game losing streak, the Terps were getting desperate as they turned to their homecoming match against Indiana, a team which had not yet won a conference game. Maryland needed two wins to enter bowl eligibility, and with at least two easily winnable games left on the schedule, this had all the makings of a “must-win” game.
The game was special for another reason too, as Maryland was honoring the 2001 Maryland Terrapins, who won their only conference championship since 1986.
Fortunately for Maryland and the hopeful homecoming crowd, the Terps found a way to end on top as the clock hit zero. Following a second half shootout, Maryland stood victorious in a 38-35 win over Indiana — its first since September.
“I feel like [Maryland] deserved the win,” head coach Mike Locksley said. “We always know to be prepared for a four-quarter game, and today it was. It didn’t have to be but it was.”
Early worries carried over from the Minnesota game were quickly diminished as the first 14 minutes were completely one-sided in Maryland’s favor.
Following an Indiana three-and-out, a weak punt gave Maryland great field position to start their drive. A couple quick passes from Taulia Tagovailoa lead to a one-yard rush touchdown by Tayon Fleet-Davis to give Maryland an early lead.
Maryland started their next drive at a trickier spot at their own 10-yard line. But like before, the Terps glided down the field with ease. A 37-yard pass to Challen Faamatau put Maryland on the other side of the field. Fittingly, Faamatau took the one-yard touchdown to cap off the drive.
Another big Maryland defensive stop preceded a launch from Tagovailoa to Fleet-Davis to again put Maryland in Indiana territory. Maryland did end up having to settle for a field goal, but that still would have made it a three-possession game.
Instead, a Petrino kick fell wide. Indiana drove down the field and scored. What could have been a 17-point lead turned into just seven.
It got worse for the Terps after the punting team came out for the first time of the afternoon. Deep in their own territory, Indiana blocked the kick, sending the ball into orbit. When the ball finally came down, Indiana had gained possession at their red zone.
Shortly thereafter, nothing was going Maryland’s way. The Terps defense needed a stop more than ever and they quickly got one.
Despite being granted a short field and weighty momentum, the Hoosiers failed to capitalize on the turnover and instead settled for a field goal that they missed.
The rest of the half was monopolized by defense. Maryland failed to score for the rest of the half after it went up 14 and looked to shake the trend when it neared the red zone, but a handoff to Faamatau on fourth and one was snuffed out. Indiana took over, used up the rest of the clock and ended the half with a redeeming 55-yard field goal.
Maryland still had the 14-10 lead at halftime, but it was clear who had the momentum.
Indeed, Indiana started the second half where they left off. The defense parted like the Red Sea, allowing for Indiana running back Stephen Carr to shoot to the end zone with ease, giving Indiana their first lead of the night.
Maryland got the ball back and finally showed signs of life when a 42-yard dart to a wide open Rakim ett put Maryland in Indiana territory. Faamatau knocked the ball in several players later allowing Maryland to retake the lead.
Following an Indiana three-and-out, Tagovailoa regained some of the confidence he lacked in the latter parts of the first half and dished the ball with ease, ending the drive with a touchdown pass to Carlos Carriere.
The Maryland defense made another big stop, but the Hoosiers had a trick up their sleeve. The Terps were not prepared for a fake punt. Indiana’s Bryant Fitzgerald took advantage with a 25-yard gain, giving the Hoosiers the ball in Maryland territory. The drive ended in a field goal, but it was enough to shorten the lead to a one-possession game. Maryland led 28-20.
Indiana could not celebrate their moral victory for long. Right after, Carriere added to his career day as he sidestepped his man en route to a 45-yard touchdown. He ended the game with eight receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns, all career highs.
“We knew they were going to blitz the corner a lot off the back side,” Carriere said, referring to his second touchdown. “Being able to pull off that kind of play throughout my head throughout the week — I just kind of react how I react.”
His quarterback also had a career day, throwing for over 400 yards and recapturing some of the confidence he had lost his previous outings. Tagovailoa ended the afternoon with 419 yards (career-high) and two touchdowns on 65% completion.
“It just feels good to be back in the win column,” Tagovailoa said. “It feels good to win against a good team in Indiana. [They have] a very good defense.”
Indiana’s turn: quarterback Donaven McCulley showed off his arsenal the next drive completing all five passes on the way to an 18-yard connection to tight end Peyton Hendershot for the touchdown. The two-point conversion was successful. Maryland’s lead was now just seven.
The teams exchanged punts as Maryland got the ball back with 6:36 left in the fourth quarter. The plan was simple: eat up as much clock as possible.
It was simple, yet effective. The Terps conducted a 12-play drive which used up over five minutes, and by the end of it, Maryland was back up by two possessions, leading 38-28.
McCulley and the Hoosiers acted fast and Indiana had marched down the field in 20 seconds to score a touchdown. The game was not over.
Down three, with exactly 60 seconds to go, Indiana tested its luck with an onside kick but failed.