With snow falling in East Lansing and both teams passing games rendered inept, LJ Scott and the Michigan State Spartans (8-3, 5-2) held on to top the Maryland Terrapins (4-7, 2-6) 17-7.
Scott consistently found open space, finishing the game with 147 yards on 29 rushes in the win. In total, Michigan State rushed for 271 yards in the game and had three different players with over 60 rushing yards in the win. Michigan State parlayed their success rushing to an early lead.
“They ran the ball well, especially early on,” Durkin said. “We started off [losing] 14-0, that’s hard to overcome no matter who you’re playing.”
The Spartans were not as successful through the air, completing just two passes for 14 yards. Still, quarterback Brian Lewerke had an impact on the game, averaging over 12 yards per rush and scoring on the ground.
Unlike Lewerke, the Terps quarterbacks were unable to make an impact on the game until the fourth quarter.
Bortenschlager, who started the game, fumbled at one point and was benched in the third quarter for Ryan Brand, who did not attempt a pass. Brand was replaced by Bortenschlager in the fourth, looking like a different quarterback upon reentering the game.
Before leaving, Bortenschlager had completed just four passes for 15 yards, but in the fourth quarter he totaled 106 yards on nine completions.
Maryland’s lone score came in the fourth quarter. Down 17-0, Bortenschlager’s first drive of the second half led to four passes for 41 yards. A pass interference called against Michigan State on a throw to Taivon Jacobs at the goal line aided Maryland and advanced them to the 11.
“We were able to throw the ball and move it a little bit,” Durkin said. “The conditions were better to be able to throw the ball.”
Three plays later Lorenzo Harrison found the endzone on a four-yard run up the middle to put Maryland behind 17-7.
After forcing a Michigan State punt on the following drive, the Terps took over on offense, looking to cut the Spartans lead to one possession.
Bortenschlager led Maryland down the field, reaching the Spartans 20 yard line, before three straight incompletions forced the Terps to attempt to cut the Spartan lead to seven with a field goal.
Instead, kicker Henry Darmstadter missed the 37-yarder, effectively ending Maryland’s comeback hopes.
“We had some chances, and we didn’t execute when we needed to,” Durkin said.
In the loss, the Terps managed just 83 rushing yards, most of which were earned by Harrison, who carried the load after Johnson tweaked his ankle early. Johnson continued to play but did not make a major impact.
“We would’ve definitely preferred better conditions, but both teams played in them,” Harrison said after the game. “We just need to do better as a team.”
Maryland shut down the Spartans offense for most of the second half, allowing just a field goal. Durkin said that the team’s strong finish did not excuse their poor start.
“I thought we played three quarters really well but we didn’t play well in the first quarter,” Durkin said. “You can’t do that.”
The loss was right tackle Marcus Minor’s first career start as a Terp, and Durkin said he felt the true freshman played well in trenches.
Next week, Maryland closes the season at home against Heisman candidate Saquon Barkley and the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Terps will need to close the season with a win to have any chance of making a bowl appearance.
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