Terps continue to struggle in lopsided loss to Notre Dame
By By Jeff Barker
Nov 13, 2011 | 12:07 AM
LANDOVER – When the Notre Dame game was scheduled in March 2010, Maryland proudly said the meeting would be "a statement game for our Terps football program."
But a statement of what?
Notre Dame's 45-21 victory in the second-ever meeting between the teams seemed merely to reinforce that this is a season that long ago began to wear thin for Terps fans.
It wasn't just the outcome that stung. It was also the sight of starting quarterback Danny O'Brien being escorted off the field in the third quarter gingerly elevating his left arm. O'Brien, last season's Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year, broke a bone in the upper arm and is out for the season, coach Randy Edsall said.
O'Brien, whose season has been disappointing, was slammed hard to the turf with Notre Dame leading 38-7. O'Brien finished 14 for 21 with one touchdown pass and his 10th interception of the season. Last season, he was only intercepted eight times in 13 games. But he seemed to struggle at times this year with a new system that employs a no-huddle variation of the spread offense in which quarterbacks have opportunities to take off on option runs. He was also victimized -- again -- by multiple receiver drops.
It may have been a new location it was Maryland's first game at FedEx Field but the game resurrected old, familiar issues for the Terps, (2-8, 1-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) who have now lost six in a row and haven't beaten a Football Bowl Division school in more than two months in Edsall's first season in College Park.
"It was like we just gave up," said linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield, who had 13 tackles. Hartsfield later seemed to amend his remark, saying: "I don't want to say give up, we just weren't executing like we should."
After O'Brien's exit, C.J. Brown entered for Maryland and ran for a 24-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to cut Notre Dame's lead to 38-14.
Maryland, last in the Atlantic Coast Conference in defense, again surrendered time-consuming, rush-dominated drives. Notre Dame running back Jonas Gray surpassed 100 yards early in the third quarter and the Irish had scoring possessions of 6:12 and 4:43. Gray finished with 136 yards on 21 carries.
"It's missed tackles. It's not getting off on third down," Edsall said.
Irish quarterback Tommy Rees was efficient, at one point completing 16 of 17 passes and finishing 30 of 38 for 296 yards and two touchdown passes. The Terps did manage three sacks of Rees. Notre Dame had previously gone five straight games -- 195 pass attempts - without a sack until linebacker Alex Twine got to Rees in the second quarter.
Notre Dame (7-3) has now won seven of its last eight games.
The game was played before an announced crowd of 70,251 at FedEx Field. The stadium home of the Washington Redskins is only about seven miles from Maryland's campus. But the Irish had more than enough green-clad fans to blunt any Maryland crowd advantage.
Plus, there was little for Terps fans to cheer about.
Because it was a national-television game in prime time, the Terps decided to wear their multi-colored "Maryland Pride" uniforms that they debuted in their opening-weekend victory over Miami Maryland's last FBS victory.
Notre Dame wore green jerseys and helmets with a gold-leaf base and green shamrocks on the side.
The outcome barely seemed in doubt. Notre Dame drove 67 yards on its opening possession, taking a 7-0 lead on a Gray's 1-yard run.
"We asked our team to get off to a fast start. We did that," Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. "I thought that was important for us to come here and really make a statement early on."
After a 52-yard field goal by David Ruffer, Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd beat cornerback Trenton Hughes on a high-arcing, 19-yard pass in the corner of the end zone, making it 17-0.
Maryland cut the deficit to 17-7 when Quintin McCree took O'Brien's pass over the middle and outraced several defenders for a 13-yard touchdown, capping a nine-play drive. It was Maryland's first drive of more than six plays.
But Notre Dame came back on its next possession, holding the ball for 13 plays and 4:49 and making it 24-7 on Gray's 1-yard run.