Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Maryland football snaps losing skid, defeats Indiana, 38-35

By Logan Hill

Facing a third and 13 and leading by a touchdown, Taulia Tagovailoa dropped back to pass. He found a cutting Marcus Fleming in the middle of the field for 22 yards, giving the Terps a fresh set of downs in Indiana territory with less than six minutes to play.

In front of a home crowd, Maryland football rode a huge performance from Taulia Tagovailoa to get back in the win column, defeating Indiana 38-35 in a thriller.

“It definitely wasn’t a pretty win, but we’ll take it,” Head Coach Mike Locksley said. “We needed it. Players deserved it. Obviously a lot of things to still get cleaned up from it, but it’s always good when you can clean mistakes up with a victory.”

Tagovailoa passed for a career-high 419 yards and 2 touchdowns, pacing the Maryland offense as they grabbed their first win in over a month to move to 5-3 on the year.

Things started off well for the Terps. After Greg Rose sacked Indiana’s Donaven McCulley on third down to force a three-and-out, the ensuing punt rolled back towards the sticks, going out at Indiana’s 35-yard line.

It took Maryland seven plays and just 2:34 to reach the paydirt. A pass interference penalty in the end zone gave them the ball at the one-yard line with a first-and-goal. Two plays later, Tayon Fleet-Davis powered in from a yard out, giving the Terps a 7-0 lead.

On their next possession, Indiana worked their way into Maryland territory, but once again came up short of points. On third and seven from Maryland’s 47, McCulley tried to pick up the first on his own, but was quickly taken down. The Hoosiers punted from the Maryland 45, giving the ball back to the Terps.

Starting from their own 10, Maryland drove 90 yards in nine plays, adding another touchdown to their ledger. Challen Faamatau was the catalyst of the Terps’ second scoring drive, as he caught a 37-yard pass out of the backfield to move the ball into Indiana territory. Five plays later, Faamatau found the end zone from a yard out, putting Maryland up 14-0.

“The goal was to start fast,” Locksley said. “We wanted to play with tempo, so the first two drives you saw us executing our fast tempo, our fast paced system. Indiana is one of those teams that tries to hold their calls or defense until you make a call and then they get lined up. So the goal was to start fast and we did.”

Maryland would stall on their next attempt, sending out Joseph Petrino to try to add three more to the lead. His 40-yard attempt was no good, keeping Maryland ahead by a pair of touchdowns.

Indiana found a spark on their next drive.

Facing a fourth-and-two from the Maryland 38, McCulley connected with Ty Fryfogle for six yards and a first down. On the very next play, McCulley found Peyton Hendershot wide open, and Hendershot sprinted for 31 yards to the Maryland one. Stephen Carr ran for a one yard touchdown a play later, cutting Maryland’s lead to 14-7.

After going three-and-out on their next drive, Maryland lined up to punt, sending the ball back to Indiana. The Hoosiers blocked Anthony Pecorella’s attempt, setting up their offense deep in Maryland territory. A sack and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty backed up the Hoosiers, forcing them to settle for a Charles Campbell field goal attempt. His 42-yard sailed outside the uprights, leaving it a 14-7 game.

From there, the two sides traded blows with neither able to break through. The Terps went for it on 4th-and-one inside Indiana territory, but came up short, maintaining a one touchdown lead.

On their last drive before halftime, Indiana moved it just far enough to grab some points. Starting at their own 28, they picked up 35 yards, setting up Campbell with a 55-yard field goal attempt. He connected, cutting the lead to 14-10 at the half.

After a Maryland punt to start things off in the second half, Indiana quickly took advantage. In just five plays, Indiana took their first lead of the game, as Carr ran through the middle untouched for a 66-yard touchdown, his second of the day. Less than five minutes into the third quarter, Indiana led 17-14.

Maryland would respond.

Marching 75 yards in seven plays, sparked by a 42-yard catch by Rakim Jarrett, Maryland put another touchdown on the board, pulling ahead 21-17. After hitting a lull following their first two drives, Maryland went right down the field, taking back the lead with a drive that only lasted 2:38.

“Once we got into halftime, we kind of said, ‘here’s what they’re doing’,” Locksley said. “We’re able to settle down [Taulia], at least with his eyes, and then things just started clicking.”

Following Maryland’s first points since the first quarter, the defense doubled down, forcing a quick Hoosiers three-and-out, giving the ball back to the Terps.

Getting the ball back at their own 33-yard line, Maryland put together another touchdown drive, picking up 67 yards on eight plays, four runs and four passes, as Tagovailoa found Carlos Carriere for a 14-yard touchdown, pushing the lead to 28-17.

Indiana faced the prospects of another three-and-out on their next possession, but a fake punt on 4th-and-5 went for 25 yards, giving Indiana a fresh set of downs at the Maryland 35. They would settle for a field goal, as Campbell connected from 29 yards away, making it 28-20 with less than a quarter remaining.

Clinging to an eight-point lead, the Terps put together their third straight touchdown drive, jumping out in front 35-20. Moving 68 yards in six plays and less than two minutes of game time, the Terps put themselves more than an arm’s length away once again, as Tagovailoa and Carriere connected for 45 yards, Maryland’s second score through the air in the game. 

Indiana came right back, producing their own fourth quarter touchdown drive to bring it back to a one score game. Using six plays to go 75 yards, McCulley found Hendershot for an 18-yard touchdown grab, and then converted the two point conversion to make it 35-28.

The teams exchanged punts, and then Tagovailoa & co. put the game away. First, Tagovailoa found Fleming for the key first down to keep the offense on the field. Next, Faamatau picked up seven on a stretch run to the left. Two plays later, he picked up another Maryland first down, as they continued to drain the remaining time away. Joseph Petrino wound up drilling the dagger field goal from 41 yards with just over a minute to go, putting the Terps up 38-28.

Indiana would quickly answer with another Hendershot touchdown catch, but the ensuing onside kick was recovered by Maryland, who ran out the final minute and grabbed the victory.

The win was Maryland’s first since they took down Kent State in September, and a breakthrough for a team that had hit a tough, midseason rough patch. Now 5-3 with four games remaining, Maryland will need just one win to become bowl eligible for the first time in the Mike Locksley era. 

After three straight frustrating losses, Saturday’s win was another step in the right direction towards a changing culture of Maryland Football.

“Winning is hard,” Mike Locksley said. “Those kids continue to fight. They battled through a three game losing streak. It was a four quarter dogfight, and the thing I like is that we found a way to get the win.”

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