Offensive Mistakes Doom Maryland, Suffer First Loss To Ohio State

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Offensive misuses put Maryland into a rough spot.

At the start of the fourth quarter in Columbus, Ohio, Maryland trailed by just three.

Maryland operated from behind, but for much of the game, it felt they were the ones in control. Following an 18-yard loss for the Buckeyes, the Terps’ defense pushed the Buckeyes back to their own 34-yard line.

And on second and 33, the game turned upside down. Ohio State quarterback Kyle McCord launched a 37-yard strike to Marvin Harrison Jr. for a first down. If that wasn’t deflating enough for Maryland, tight end Cade Stover scored from 44 yards and put Ohio State up 10.

Maryland entered a complete free-fall for the remainder of the game, and a once-promising start culminated with a disappointing 37-17 loss. Maryland dominated for a good portion of the first half, but plenty of mistakes doomed the Terps to a crooked result.

“There’s a lot of football left to be played,” Locksley said. “I thought our team understood how to prepare for games like this, and now we have to find a way to win.”

Maryland remains winless in its history against Ohio State, moving to 0-9 all-time.

Taulia Tagovailoa showed flashes at times. However, two costly interceptions — including a momentum-shifting pick-six — sent the Terps’ offense spiraling late.

“We weren’t doing our assignment and paying attention to the details, myself included,” Tagovailoa said.

Tagovailoa completed just 51% of his passes, a regression from his Big Ten Player of the Week performance against Indiana.

Maryland scored and grabbed the lead on its opening drive of the second half, and that was the final scent of offensive success.

Maryland delivered a statement in the game’s first three minutes.

Ohio State tried to catch Maryland by surprise in its first possession. After coming up two yards short by fourth down, the Buckeyes tried a direct snap fake punt, but the Terps sniffed it out.

Maryland took over on Ohio State’s 30 and on the fourth play of the drive, Kaden Prather amazingly snagged Tagovailoa’s endzone pass with just his left hand.

The 15-yard strike put Maryland ahead by a score under three minutes into the game.

Ohio State constructed a serviceable drive until they reached Maryland’s 40-yard line. Kellan Wyatt sacked McCord on third down to end the Buckeyes’ threat.

Near disaster struck on Ohio State’s punt, as Jeshaun Jones muffed the kick after signaling for a fair catch. Jones was fortunate Dante Trader Jr. alertly fell on the loose ball.

A 24-yard catch-and-run rocketed Maryland into striking distance. On fourth and one on Ohio State’s 29, Maryland opted for backup quarterback Billy Edwards. A couple of other times this season, the Terps succeeded with the Edwards sneak. This time, the Buckeyes’ front four picked up a pivotal stop.

Following another Ohio State punt before the first quarter concluded, Tagovailoa set up first-and-goal with a 26-yard dot to Jones on third down. Tagovailoa missed Preston Howard open in the endzone, so the Terps settled for a field goal and extended their lead to 10-0.

Ohio State still couldn’t figure anything out offensively. Trader Jr.’s pass breakup forced Ohio State’s third punt with 11 minutes left in the half.

Ohio State desperately needed a spark — and its defense provided it. Ohio State safety Josh Proctor jumped Tagovailoa’s pass and he returned it 24 yards to the house. Tagovailoa’s second pick-six of the year brought the Buckeyes back to life.

The spark didn’t translate offensively yet for the Buckeyes. Another three-and-out followed by a 26-yard punt return by Jones set Maryland up at midfield.

Ohio State didn’t score on any of its first five offensive drives — the last time that happened was in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl.

After Maryland stalled on offense, they pinned Ohio State inside its own ten. Two big plays to Harrison Jr. — including a 58-yard bomb from McCord — set up a game-tying short field goal. After appearing lifeless for the game’s first 20 minutes, the Buckeyes found a way to tie it with a minute left in the half.

A pass interference plus roughing the passer put Maryland in field goal range with 12 seconds left.

A golden chance for a lead at half ended with no points after Tagovailoa’s brutal mistake. Maryland had no timeouts, but Tagovailoa threw between the hashes, letting time expire.

“That’s just situational football,” Tagovailoa said. “I have to be better.”

A 10-10 game at halftime with No. 4 Ohio State should have felt like a win for Maryland. However, Maryland left a lot of chances on the table.

“It’s disappointing for me because we deferred because you’d like to try to steal a score before the half,” head coach Mike Locksley said. “What you don’t want to do is check it down in that situation.

Maryland didn’t let that ending carry into the second half. Tagovailoa and the offense regained the lead with a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive, culminating with Tagovailoa’s nine-yard rush to the endzone.

Taulia Tagovailoa celebrates his nine-yard rushing touchdown. (Courtesy of Maryland Athletics)

Ohio State responded immediately with its first offensive touchdown of the game. McCord set up first-and-goal with a 37-yard completion to Julian Flemming. Two plays later, DeaMonte Trayanum tied the game with a four-yard score.

Following the score, Ohio State’s defense forced Tagovailoa into another crucial miscue. Tagovailoa escaped an initial sack, but his throw on the run sailed into the hands of Lathan Ransom. The interception put the Buckeyes in a positive field position.

“I know he’s not happy in the locker room with how. he played today,” Locksley said. “It’s not one guy. It’s all of us; including me.”

Ohio State reached Maryland’s five-yard line with its aerial attack, but Maryland’s defense limited the damage to just a field goal. Ohio State’s field goal gave them its first lead of the game at the end of the third.

After its touchdown drive to open the second half, Maryland’s offense went stagnant. Too many chances for Ohio State finally began to haunt Maryland, as Stover’s 34-yard touchdown increased Ohio State’s lead to ten.

Maryland’s next offensive possession ended in a turnover on downs after Maryland elected to run the ball on third and fourth down with three yards to get.

Everything seemingly had fallen apart for Maryland.

It only took three plays for Harrison Jr. to score and put Ohio State up 34-17 with seven minutes to play.

Ohio State added a field goal before time expired, and Maryland’s offense continued to sputter through the final minutes.