Following a one-yard score from Maryland running back Tayon Fleet-Davis cut No. 10 Ohio State’s overtime lead to 52-51, interim head coach Matt Canada and the Terps had a decision to make. The team could either go for two and win the game, or attempt an extra point and extend the contest to a second overtime period.
According to Canada, that decision had already been made before the game, and the Terps were going to go for two. Tyrell Pigrome, who was making his first start of the season at quarterback for the injured Kasim Hill, rolled to his right and threw into the end zone.
But the pass just missed the hands of freshman receiver Jeshaun Jones, falling incomplete and giving the Buckeyes a one-point victory in overtime.
“We say it all the time – six inches will make you a star,” Canada said after the game. “That game was six inches away.”
The final play call, which Canada says was his decision, shouldn’t have come as much as a surprise based on how prior events in the game unfolded. Maryland had been aggressive on offense all afternoon, taking shots downfield and even converting a fake punt in the fourth quarter.
As the game headed to overtime, the Terps defense was struggling to stop the Buckeyes offense. With a second overtime, Maryland would get the ball first, yet a defensive stop would have been necessary. Considering those factors, the two-point try didn’t seem like an outrageous call in the scenario. However, it’s still one that will be questioned.
“Obviously it didn’t work and that was my call,” Canada said. “I don’t know if we were trying to be aggressive or just trying to win.”
Maryland’s aggressiveness was part of the reason the Terps remained close with the Buckeyes for 60-plus minutes of actions. Another was redshirt freshman running back Anthony McFarland. While Maryland honored its seniors before the game, it was the freshman who stole the show once the action got underway. Fresh off a career-high 210 rushing yards against Indiana just a week ago, McFarland outdid himself and the record books again this Saturday.
With 153 rushing yards in the first quarter (the most by an FBS player this season) and 231 rushing in the first half, McFarland propelled Maryland to a 24-17 lead at halftime, ripping off touchdown runs of 81 and 75 yards on two of his first three carries of the game.
While he was somewhat slowed down in the second half, the running back still finished with 298 yards, acting as the focal point of the offense all afternoon.
“Hats off to the O-Line as always. Like I said last week against Indiana, without them I wouldn’t do anything,” McFarland said. “No touchdowns, no yards. So, hats go off to the O-Line.”
The Terps also received production from the rest of the running back group, with Javon Leake and Fleet-Davis both scoring. In addition to the performance off the ground, Maryland got a solid day from Pigrome.
While Pigrome, who was thrust into the starting role after Hill suffered a torn ACL last week, will mostly be remembered for the missed pass in overtime, the redshirt sophomore’s performance had some bright spots as well. Throwing for 181 yards and an impressive touchdown to Jeshaun Jones, Pigrome commanded the Maryland offense. The Terp passer even showed off some big play ability, finding a few receivers for large gains, including one pass for 60 yards.
“He put us in a position to win the game,” Canada said. “Obviously, a lot of the plays he made did that.”
Defensively, the Terps took advantage of some Ohio State miscues, forcing three turnovers, one of which was a pick-6 by senior Ravon Davis early in the third quarter. Eventually, however, Ohio State’s offense found its groove. Erasing a 14-point deficit in the third, the Buckeyes scored 35 points in the second half and overtime.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins finished the day with 405 passing yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for 59 yards and three scores, including the game-winner in overtime. Haskins’ day in the air helped him become the he single-season passing yards leader for Ohio State.
Running back J.K. Dobbins also contributed 203 yards on the ground and receivers Johnnie Dixon III and Terry McLaurin both finished the day with over 100 receiving yards. In the end, Ohio State’s high-powered offense helped lead the Buckeyes to the victory.
“To put it in to words, we are distraught right now at this point. There are no words that can reconcile what happened to us,” graduate senior linebacker Tre Watson said about the loss. “It’s awful, there’s no other way to put it.”
While the loss is another heartbreaker for the Terps, the season is not over. Finishing up on the road next weekend against Penn State, a win would qualify Maryland for a bowl game. Today’s defeat may hurt, but for a team that has already gone through tremendous amounts of adversity each week, the Terps expect to play hard again next week.
“It won’t be hard at all,” Canada said about rebounding from the loss. “Last week everybody in the country said we were done. Frickin’ season’s over, shouldn’t even play these last two. Our guys will be fine.”
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