Maryland’s offense falters again in loss to Michigan State

Maryland managed 100 yards of offense, their lowest of the season, and scored three points in their fourth loss of the season, a 24-3 defeat at the hands of Michigan State at Maryland Stadium on Saturday.

In Maryland’s four losses this season, the offense has averaged 157.5 yards, while it has averaged 498.2 yards per game in their five wins.

The Terrapins’ offensive success is predicated on the running game (324.6 yards rushing in wins), but Michigan State, who entered the game as the No. 1 rushing defense in the nation, allowed just 26 yards on the ground. That rushing output is also the lowest of the season for Maryland.

“We didn’t come in here thinking we were going to run the ball down the field on them. We were trying to take advantage of what they let you do,” interim head coach Matt Canada said. “They took some things away. There were some opportunities to make plays that you have to make them when it presents itself.”

Maryland’s offense looked to have some momentum going into Saturday’s game after scoring 63 points and ammassing 712 total yards against Illinois just seven days prior. Michigan State’s stout defense, however, proved to be too much to overcome.

In the passing game, Kasim Hill was 8-21 passing for 74 yards, a game after setting his career-high for passing yards in a game and throwing for three touchdowns against Illinois.

Meanwhile, Michigan State’s offense scored on their first possession of the game as the Spartans drove 79 yards on 12 plays, capped off by an 18-yard touchdown from Connor Heyward. On their next possession, Michigan State converted a field goal to take an early 10-0 lead.

A 16-yard punt by Michigan State’s Bryce Baringer gave Maryland good field position for their fifth possession, starting at the Spartans’ 42-yard line. The Terrapins drove to within six yards of the end zone before settling for a field goal from Joseph Petrino to cut their deficit to 10-3.

Squandered opportunities were a recurring theme for Maryland’s offense. In the second half, Baringer had another mishit punt that traveled eight yards, setting Maryland up at the opponent’s 34-yard line. That possession ended with a Javon Leake fumble on third down.

On Michigan State’s ensuing possession, RaVon Davis intercepted Brian Lewerke’s pass to send the offense back on the field at the Spartans’ 43-yard line, but Maryland failed to score once again.

“On offense we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot at times,” Canada said. “We just have to find a way to make critical plays at critical times.”

The defense for Maryland looked poised to pick up the offensive unit’s slack when Byron Cowart intercepted a tipped pass and headed towards the end zone. However, just before Cowart completed his 13-yard jaunt to the end zone, Michigan State’s Darrell Stewart Jr. stripped the ball. The Spartans recovered the fumble in the end zone, resulting in a touchback.

After the touchback, Michigan State’s offense went to the 20-yard line and on the very next play, Heyward took a handoff up the middle and sprinted 80 yards for the touchdown.

“If you think about that play right there, it would have been 17-10,” Canada said. “We’re talking about this far away and obviously the next play… it’s 24-3.”

That 14-point swing effectively ended Maryland’s chances for a comeback and the Spartans expended the remaining 11 minutes to come away with their sixth win of the season and drop the Terrapins to 5-4.

“Our kids are disappointed because they didn’t play their best football. And we were still right there. We make that score, it’s 17-10 with 11 minutes to go, we’re right in the game,” Canada said.

 

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