Maryland interim coach Matt Canada is not going to pin last Saturday’s 52-51 overtime loss at home to No. 10 Ohio State on the two players involved in the final play, in particular redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome.
While not discussing what went wrong on the failed 2-point conversion pass, Canada said that neither Pigrome nor freshman receiver Jeshaun Jones should be held responsible for the devastating loss to the Buckeyes.
“Everybody sees the last play, we all know what the last play was, and that’s part of being the quarterback,” Canada said. “Every single game that you win or lose if you play quarterback and it’s a close game, you’re going to be talked about. Either you made a big-time play to win the game or you didn’t make a big-time play and you lost the game.
“That’s part of it. It’s the greatest position in all of sports. He understands that. He wishes it was different. I wish it was different. There were a bunch of plays I wish were different. It’s a big play, but [the outcome of the game] doesn’t fall on that one.”
After sophomore running back Tayon Fleet-Davis scored to draw Maryland to within one in overtime, Pigrome threw low and hard to the right of Jones, who seemed to stop and plant his feet in the end zone.
Pigrome and Jones, who combined on a 27-yard touchdown pass to give the Terps a 38-31 lead with 7:50 left in the fourth quarter, seemed to not be in sync on the final play of the game.
“We just missed honestly on that,” Jones said after practice Tuesday night. “I don’t think it would happen again.”
Asked how the coaching staff helped him recover from the final play, Jones said: “Just being supportive. After the game, I was a little upset and everyone was like, ‘Just keep your head up.’ One play doesn’t define the whole game.”
Here are five other plays Maryland made — or didn’t make — that could have cost the Terps the game.
1. The first-quarter option pass that Jones wound up fumbling.
After redshirt freshman running back Anthony McFarland Jr. began his 298-yard afternoon rushing with an 81-yard touchdown run, the Terps recovered the ensuing kickoff and took possession at the Ohio State 21.
On first down, Jones took a handoff on a jet sweep and went back to pass, as he did in throwing a touchdown in the season opener against Texas. This time, Jones tried to avoid being sacked and fumbled, with the Buckeyes recovering.
“You can go back and we can look at a call in the first quarter, it didn’t work so it wasn’t a very good call,” Canada said Tuesday.
Asked it was the same play that worked against the Longhorns and resulted in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jones to graduate receiver Taivon Jacobs, Jones said, “It was a little bit different.”
Instead of getting a short field goal and taking a 10-0 lead, Maryland watched the Buckeyes drive 52 yards in 10 plays and get on the scoreboard themselves with a 36-yard field goal by Blake Haubeil.
2. Pigrome throwing over the head of a wide-open Jones deep in Ohio State territory later in the first quarter.
After McFarland scored a 75-yard touchdown to follow the 81-yarder, and leading 14-3, the Terps used a 56-yard pass from Pigrome to freshman wide receiver Dontay Demus to reach the Ohio State 22.
The drive seemed to stall when Pigrome threw incomplete to McFarland and then ran for three yards. But on third-and-7, Jones found himself wide open near the 5-yard line after an Ohio State defender fell down.
Pigrome threw well over the 6-foot-2 Jones' head and the Terps had to settle for a 36-yard field goal by freshman kicker Joseph Petrino for a 17-3 lead with 2:06 left in the first quarter.
3. Pigrome getting tackled for a loss and then sacked on successive plays after being in the red zone in the second quarter.
Maryland had a chance to build on its 17-3 lead after one of its best defensive stands of the game.
After forcing the Buckeyes to punt from their own 37 and then taking over at their own 22, the Terps watched as McFarland broke off another long run, this one a 52-yarder on third-and-1 from the Maryland 31.
Starting at the Ohio State 17, Pigrome lost three yards on a first-down run, then lost another 12 by getting sacked for six yards each on successive plays. What started out at worst as a rather routine field goal by Petrino turned into a 49-yarder.
Petrino, who had made his first 11 field goals of the season but none longer than a 40-yarder at Bowling Green, missed for the first time. The Buckeyes immediately went and scored on their first play, a 68-yard pass from redshirt sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr. to fifth-year senior wide receiver Terry McLaurin.
4. The short kickoff and the poor kickoff coverage that led to Ohio State’s tying touchdown in overtime.
After tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo recovered a fumble by McFarland in the end zone to give Maryland a 45-38 lead with 1:46 remaining, a short kickoff by Petrino and poor kickoff coverage led to a big return by the Buckeyes.
Ohio State’s Demario McCall returned the kickoff 42 yards to midfield, with Petrino forcing him out of bounds. From there, Haskins completed three of his next four passes, including two totaling 28 yards to Parris Campbell, another redshirt senior receiver.
The second to Campbell came on third-and-8 from the 37 and went to 17 yards. Haskins ran for seven yards on first down and redshirt senior linebacker Jesse Aniebonam was called for a facemask penalty, putting the ball at the Maryland 6.
Haskins eventually hit junior wide receiver Binjimen Victor on a 3-yard touchdown with 40 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 45.
“In [the end of] regulation, we kicked off and they had a very good kickoff return. If that didn’t happen they’d have longer to drive,” Canada said Tuesday.
5. The sack Pigrome took in the final minute of regulation that pushed the Terps out of field goal range.
After Maryland started from its own 32, Pigrome hit Jacobs across the middle for a 30-yard gain. Pigrome was under extreme pressure after that.
On second down, he got a pass away that went incomplete, but on third down Pigrome was sacked by Ohio State sophomore defensive end Chase Young for a 14-yard loss.
Though the Terps were not in realistic field goal range after the pass to Jacobs, they were certainly not even close after the sack. Forced to finish regulation with a Hail Mary, Pigrome was sacked again.
Canada said that after the long pass to Jacobs, the Terps took a little too long lining up on second down and wound up with Pigrome under pressure and throwing the ball away.
Then came the sacks, two of four the Buckeyes registered on Pigrome.
Asked if Pigrome taking the first sack was inexcusable, Canada said Tuesday, “I wouldn’t say inexcusable, but it was not very good.”