By Logan Hill
Trailing 10-7, Dontay Demus Jr. fielded the Iowa kickoff. The Terps’ standout was tackled low, suffering a leg injury and fumbling the ball in the process to kickstart a woeful evening for coach Mike Locksley’s squad.
Despite a packed home crowd, Maryland football saw their undefeated run end, as they fell to No. 5 Iowa, 51-14.
“Obviously disappointed. Disappointed for our fans, for our supporters and for our team,” Head Coach Mike Locksley said. “[I] give Iowa credit, they’re a good football team that took full advantage of the opportunities we presented.”
Things began poorly for the Terps, as after punting on their first possession, Taulia Tagovailoa threw his second interception of the season on their next drive. Iowa’s Riley Moss hugged the ball into his chest and gave the ball back to Hawkeyes at the 50-yard line.
On their ensuing possession the Hawkeyes drove to the Maryland 23, but a third down pass breakup by Tarheeb Still forced a field goal attempt. Caleb Shudak netted a 41-yarder, giving Iowa an early 3-0 lead.
Maryland responded to the Hawkeyes’ scoring drive with one of their own. Tagovailoa led the offense on an eight-play, 69-yard drive that culminated in Chig Okonkwo scoring a nine-yard touchdown to give the Terps their first lead of the game, 7-3.
The Hawkeyes responded with a methodical drive, marching 59 yards on their own eight plays. Spencer Petras capped things off with a one yard touchdown to put Iowa back in front at 10-7.
On the kickoff, Dontay Demus Jr. was hit and fumbled the ball at the ten, as the Hawkeyes recovered. Two plays later, Iowa was in the end zone again, as Petras found Arland Bruce IV from eight-yards out, putting them further out in front, 17-7.
One play into Maryland’s next possession, Tagovailoa threw another interception, as his pass was tipped and Hawkeyes’ safety Jack Koerner came up with it. On offense, Iowa mustered 26 yards on six plays, ending with another one-yard score from Petras. In a matter of minutes, Maryland had watched their four-point lead become a 17-point hole.
Two plays into their next drive, Tagovailoa was intercepted once again, his third of the first half, as Dane Belton snatched the throw out of the air. The fourth turnover of the game for the Terps gave the Hawkeyes yet another possession as they looked to build on their lead.
“Losing Dontay, along with the fumble and losing him, then those turnovers, we made some poor decisions,” Locksley said. “I still feel pretty confident that this is a group that will stick together and bounce back.”
Iowa did add to their lead on their next possession, as fullback Monte Pottebaum scored from two-yards out, stretching out the lead to 31-7.
Maryland’s next drive ended in a punt rather than a turnover, as Iowa’s second quarter dominance continued. The Hawkeyes added another field goal shortly before halftime and headed into the locker room leading 34-7. A 31-0 second quarter run turned a dogfight into a blowout for Iowa.
The second half began pretty much the same way the first one ended. On second-and-22, Petras found running back Tyler Goodson on a check down pass out of the back field. Goodson cut upfield, and ran untouched 67-yard to the end zone, putting Iowa up 41-7.
Following another Iowa Field Goal, Maryland would finally figure out a way to stop the bleeding. Tagovailoa led a 75-yard drive that culminated in a seven-yard TD catch from Rakim Jarrett. The touchdown was Maryland’s first points since the first quarter, and ended a streak of 41 unanswered Hawkeyes’ points.
Iowa dominated from the second quarter on, handing Maryland their first loss of 2021 in what can be described as none other than an absolute bludgeoning.
“Undisciplined football, just turnovers, beating ourselves. You can’t really win many games when you turn the ball over that many times,” Okonkwo said. “Turnovers, penalties, beating ourselves.”
Tagovailoa finished the game 16-29 for 157 yards and two touchdowns, but his five interceptions were a black eye on what had been a solid start to the season. Maryland’s defense gave up 428 yards and 51 points, six less than they gave up in their first four games combined.
What was supposed to mark the start of a new era in College Park was instead a rough outing on the national stage. Following a solid first quarter, the Terps couldn’t muster anything of substance, and were dominated on both sides of the ball.
“It’s important for us as a team to understand that one game shouldn’t and can’t define us,” Locksley said. “This team is better than what we showed tonight and it’s my job as head coach to get us to play that way each and every week.”
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