There could have been good news coming out of another blowout defeat to another top-10 team for Maryland on Saturday.
There could have been a 19-year-old record broken by freshman running back Lorenzo Harrison. Or another stellar performance against Ohio State by quarterback Perry Hills.
Instead, there was more bad news for the Terps, who were blown out by the No. 5 Buckeyes, 62-3, before a season-high 48,090 fans bathed in red – much of it worn by Ohio State fans and some of it by the home team, which introduced its new “Red Ops” uniforms for the game at Maryland Stadium.
“Obviously all the credit to Ohio State. They were well-prepared, they’re a well-coached team, they’re very talented and we knew that going into the game,” first-year Maryland coach DJ Durkin said. “Back-to-back weeks where the game got away from us early.”
It was much like the prior week’s 59-3 loss at No. 3 Michigan.
The Terps went down 14-0 after Ohio State’s first two possessions, failed to get into the end zone after a long drive and then watched the deficit grow to 45-3 by halftime.
Only Durkin’s long friendship with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer might have kept the Buckeyes (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) from breaking the record of most points scored (76) in a single game against Maryland, which was held to 176 yards on offense while surrendering 581.
“We didn’t get a stop on defense and once again down at the goal line, didn’t convert it for a touchdown on the fourth-and-1,” Durkin said of what turned out to be the only points the Terps could score, on a 23-yard field goal by junior Adam Greene (Broadneck).
“If you’re going to play with a team or beat a team like that, you’ve got to take advantage of the opportunities and we didn’t. There’s a lot to improve from looking at that game. ... Obviously it factors in the level of competition we just played for a couple of weeks, but we’ve kind of lost our way ourselves.”
All that seemed to be overshadowed by disturbing news involving Harrison and yet another injury to Hills.
Less than an hour before kickoff, an athletic department spokesman announced that Harrison and two other freshmen, backup linebacker Antoine Brooks and wide receiver DJ Turner, had been suspended “indefinitely” for a violation of the student-athlete code of conduct.
It was the first potentially lengthy suspension announced by the program since Durkin was hired. Not only will it likely cost Harrison a chance to break LaMont Jordan’s freshman rushing record, but it took one of the team’s most productive players off the field.
Harrison came into the game with 633 yards, 57 away from breaking the record and two behind Ty Johnson, Maryland's leading rusher this season. Johnson led the Terps Saturday with 21 yards on eight carries.
Asked how distracting the suspensions were coming so close to the game, Durkin said, “Distractions are part of what you have to deal with as an athlete, as a coach. It’s just part of it. … I have tremendous respect for this university, for Dr. [Wallace] Loh and the great people that make up this community. Certainly we take those things very seriously and that’s how they’re dealt with.
“I also have a ton of respect and love for those guys that are involved. I love those guys like my own. … We’ll certainly learn from it. You won’t find any better guys, young men, than those three. We’ll put our arms around them. What you do with people you love is you discipline them, you hold them accountable. … Was it a distraction? Absolutely. Those guys are contributors and they help us a bunch.”
Durkin wouldn’t speculate about whether the three will return this season.
“As we get more information and know more, we’ll release more as we go,” he said.
Then there was another injury to Hills, who had rushed for 170 yards last year at Ohio State, a Maryland record for quarterbacks. Hills -- whose status for the game was not announced by Durkin prior to kickoff after he was knocked out of the Michigan game -- was injured on the team’s second offensive series Saturday.
It was somewhat old news that the fifth-year senior got hurt again, but instead of the right shoulder problems that have plagued him for most of the season, the injury was to his left shoulder.
With his team already trailing 14-0 in the first quarter, Hills was knocked out of the game for the second straight week and fourth time this season. His status for next week’s game at No. 19 Nebraska has yet to be determined.
Hills was replaced by fellow redshirt senior Caleb Rowe, who led the Terps on a long drive that seemingly ended with his own 2-yard touchdown run before officials deemed that replay showed his knee was down at the 1-yard line.
“We’ll see. We’ll get a better diagnosis on [Hills’ injury] and look at it as we move into tomorrow and Monday,” said Durkin, who also played freshman Tyrrell Pigrome in the second half.
It was the third straight loss and fifth in six games for Maryland (5-5, 2-5), which plays its third straight game against a ranked team next Saturday before closing out the regular season against Rutgers on Nov. 26. It now seems likely that the Terps will have to wait until the finale to become bowl-eligible.
The margin of defeat eclipsed the loss at Michigan as the worst since Maryland joined the Big Ten two years ago. The back-to-back defeats were the most one-sided in school history, erasing the first two games the school ever played in 1892, a 50-0 loss at St. John’s College in Annapolis and a 62-0 loss to John Hopkins at Clifton Park.
“We've just got to play with poise, stay together as a family, keep coming together and have a positive outcome at the end,” senior wide receiver Teldrick Morgan (Meade) said. “We can’t dwell on it, feel too bad about it. We’ve just to keep going.”