By Giovanni Insignares
Frustration and disappointment filled the room as Terps’ head coach Randy Edsall walked to his seat to address the media after the team’s 35-17 loss to No.12 ranked Michigan State.
His eyes peered down to the table before he began his opening statement, as he wondered how much different it could have been had his team executed in key situations.
“To know that we had opportunities if we executed and did the things that were there for us to take, then we could have put ourselves into a better position to win,” Edsall said. “That’s what’s different and that’s what’s frustrating.”
Unlike the previous two matchups against Ohio State and Wisconsin, Maryland did not seem overwhelmed and unmatched against a major program. The 8:00 p.m. kickoff electrified both the team and the fans as they hoped their team would conjure up a major upset under the bright lights.
In a tight first quarter, it was the Maryland defense that stepped up, holding Michigan State to field goals and punts all the way through.
Then in the second quarter, while trailing 9-0, quarterback C.J. Brown made sure the Terps offense got into the swing of things. After converting a critical 4th down and 6, he quickly hurried the team to the line of scrimmage and left Michigan State scrambling to get ready.
Brown quickly took advantage of the Spartans’ slow reaction and threw a 20 yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Daniel Adams, cutting the lead to 9-7.
At this point, the crowd at Byrd Stadium was ferocious. The sea of black that was the students and fans threatened to drown Michigan State and propel Maryland to the first ranked win in Randy Edsall’s tenure in College Park.
Linebacker Cole Farrand, who finished the game with 18 tackles, led the defense and managed to contain Michigan State’s rushing attack and fluster quarterback Connor Cook. Cook was frequently hurried on throws and completed only 45% of his passes, the second lowest for him this season.
And despite a touchdown drive by the Spartans to make it 16-7 at halftime, there was a sense that Maryland could still very much win this game.
Hope, though, would quickly evaporate for the Terps as the third quarter drew to a close.
Faced with a 3rd and 10 on his own 10 yard line, Brown stepped back and threw a sharp pass through the middle of the defense that was easily intercepted by safety R.J. Williamson and taken 22 yards for the touchdown. This put the Spartans up 23-7 and completely drained the energy out of the stadium.
Brown, who finished the day 20-43 for 243 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions, struggled all night to make consistent throws.
When asked about the interception he threw for a touchdown and about the offense’s performance, Brown wished he could have it all back.
“I can’t make that decision and can’t put our defense that situation,” he said. “We were playing good, we were in the game, we needed to come back and get a drive together and we weren’t able to do it.”
Overall, the offense looked out of sync and unable to generate big plays consistently. The running game managed a total of 27 yards on 17 carries, thus turning up the pressure Maryland’s passing attack faced throughout the game.
With wide receiver Stefon Diggs out due to a suspension, the offense lacked any type of home run hitter and the Spartans were able to zero in on Brown and the receivers and make life difficult for the Terps.
After another 3-and-out by Brown and the offense early in the fourth quarter, Michigan St. followed with a nine play drive that was punctuated by a 25 yard touchdown run by RB Jeremy Langford, putting Maryland in a 30-7 hole they would not come out of.
As the score climbed, the Terps’ emotion and effectiveness went down as well. Players were walking on the sidelines with their heads down, thinking about how the game got away from them.
The Maryland defense and offense had worn down, with the overall play early ended up withering away by the end.
Even a late touchdown from Brown to Juwann Winfree that made it 30-15 wasn’t enough to generate any excitement, as most fans had already made it to the exits.
The Spartans eventually added insult to injury by managing a final, long touchdown run by running back Nick Hill with 3:15 to go that made the final score 37-15.
With another loss to a top-tier program, Edsall couldn’t help but linger on what could’ve been. However, he knows that the only thing the team can do is try to learn from its mistakes and grow as a football team from here on out.
“We’ll take a look at the film with the guys and show them the things they did right and show them the things that they did wrong and work to get better,” Edsall said. “That’s all basically what we can do.”
With the loss, Maryland drops to 6-4 on the season and 3-3 in Big Ten play, while Michigan State advances to 8-2 this year and 5-1 in conference play.
Maryland will look to rebound next week on the road in Ann Arbor, against Michigan. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.