By: Logan Hill
Reaching Michigan territory on their first possession, Maryland turned to senior kicker Joseph Petrino for the first points of the game. His kick was no good and would be a sign of things to come for Maryland on senior day.
In a contest that was never truly competitive, poor execution combined with a bevy of penalties plagued the Terps once again, allowing the Wolverines to have their way for much of the day.
Playing in College Park for the final time this season, Maryland football couldn’t end its losing skid against ranked opponents, falling to No. 8 Michigan, 59-18.
“All of us, coaching, to playing, we weren’t our best today,” head coach Mike Locksley said. “I got to get us to be our best.”
It was another sloppy start for the Terps. After forcing a quick Michigan three-and-out, Taulia Tagovailoa led Maryland’s offense over midfield, before they stalled out at the Wolverines’ 30 yard line. They came up empty when Petrino couldn’t knock it through, and it was a 0-0 ball game early.
The Wolverines would end that trend before it really began.
Back out for the second time, Michigan marched right down the field, going 70 yards in 11 plays, with Cade McNamara finding his tight end, Luke Schoonmaker, for a two-yard score to cap off the drive. McNamara settled in, accounting for 41 of the 70 yards through the air and giving the Wolverines the lead midway through the first quarter, at 7-0.
Maryland’s offense failed to respond, going three and out, but the defense stepped up again, as the Wolverines also were forced to punt it back after three plays, giving the Terps a chance to even the score.
Starting at their own 17, Maryland lost six yards and didn’t gain any, avoiding disaster and punting the ball back to Michigan from their own end zone. A.J. Henning returned it to Maryland’s 45, setting Michigan up to build on their lead.
Eight plays later, they did just that. Hassan Haskins started things off with a gain of 12, before three more runs set the Wolverines up with fourth and one from Maryland’s 24. Michigan got just enough on the next play, giving them a fresh set just outside the red zone.
McNamara connected with Andrel Anthony for 18 through the air and Haskins finished things off with back-to-back runs. The latter, a one-yard scoring run, put the Wolverines up 14-0.
Maryland would finally get on the board on their next possession, but not without added drama. After working their way down to Michigan’s five yard line, a handful of penalties stymied their momentum and forced them to send the field goal unit out. Petrino connected this time around, hitting a 31-yarder to cut the deficit to 14-3.
Michigan would be on the move on their next possession, but Maryland’s defense stood tall and forced a stop on fourth down near midfield. Maryland took over on offense, but was out of sync once again. To make matters worse, Anthony Pecorella’s fourth down punt was blocked and Michigan took over in Terps’ territory.
They would score in quick fashion, with J.J. McCarthy unloading a pass for Mike Sainristil, who made a one-handed grab for a 13-yard touchdown. Sainristil’s score ended a four-play, 42-yard drive and blew things open, 21-3.
The Wolverines would net a field goal with seconds to go before halftime, stretching their lead to 24-3. Tagovailoa kneeled down when Maryland got the ball back, putting an end to a forgettable first half for the Terps.
The second half was worse.
Getting the ball coming out of the locker room, the Terps ran eight plays, but turned it over on downs just over midfield. The Wolverines tacked on another touchdown when they got the ball, trekking 56 yards on a relatively comfortable nine plays. Haskins finished things off once again from a yard away, making it a 31-3 ball game.
Maryland would finally put together a touchdown drive when they got the ball back. Led on the ground and in the air by Tagovailoa, the Terps went 74 yards in nine plays. Tagovailoa found Carlos Carriere just over the goal line, good for a seven-yard score, and a 21 point deficit at 31-10.
“The goal is to win, obviously we didn’t get that done,” Carriere said. “Cool moment looking back on it. Right now the focus is just getting that sixth win.”
It wouldn’t stay that way for long.
On the ensuing kickoff, Michael Barrett caught it on the left side before throwing a backwards pass to A.J. Henning, who returned it untouched for a touchdown. In a flash, it was 38-18.
“Anytime when you go down and score and then you allow a play like that to happen on special teams, it definitely takes away momentum,“ Locksley said. “Momentum is an important part of the game.”
The Terps put together their second straight touchdown drive in response, with Tagovailoa keeping it for a seventeen-yard touchdown and then again for the two point conversion. However, the Wolverines matched Maryland’s eight with seven of their own less than a minute later.
Facing third and eight from their own 23, McNamara found running back Donovan Edwards, who turned towards the middle of the field and didn’t stop until he found paydirt. After a frantic couple of minutes, it was 45-18, Michigan.
DJ Turner added another Wolverines touchdown before the third frame ended. The Wolverines cornerback jumped Tagovailoa’s pass attempt and finished the play in the endzone, ballooning the lead to 52-18.
Michigan would add another score to start the fourth, by way of McCarthy on the ground, putting the Wolverines up 41 points, at 59-18.
The two sides would march up and down the rest of the way, with neither breaking through to the end zone.
Still searching for an elusive sixth win on the season, Maryland was haunted by many of the problems it has dealt with throughout the 2021 season. Despite the lopsided outcome, the Terps will still have one more opportunity to reach a bowl game, as they face Rutgers next week in Piscataway to end the 2021 regular season.
“We [have] to flush this one pretty quickly, because we still have a lot to play for next week, going up to New Jersey,” Locksley said. “An opportunity to win six.”
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