Maryland can’t hold fourth-quarter lead, bows to Michigan State, 19-16, in football
By Jack Ebling
Nov 30, 2019 at 9:05 PM
EAST LANSING, MICH. — Maryland wasn’t terrible Saturday, as it was many other times in 2019. But in a final shot at redemption this season, the Terps failed to hold a fourth-quarter lead and fell to struggling Michigan State, 19-16.
After being outscored 217-38 in its previous five games, Michael Locksley’s team played much better and nearly won its second Big Ten game in nine tries. Matt Coghlin’s fourth field goal of the day, a 33-yarder with 2:14 left, ended the Terps’ quest to finish Locksley’s first season with a win.
“I was proud of our team today,” Locksley said. “I thought we played for 60 minutes, which we hadn’t done in a few weeks. I thought our guys showed a lot of heart, especially our seniors. I can’t thank those guys enough, those 16 who’ve played their last game as Terps."
Maryland (3-9) took its first lead in six weeks on a 44-yard pass from Josh Jackson to Dontay Demus Jr. in the second quarter, then went back in front 16-13 in the third quarter on a 63-yard sprint down the left sideline by Anthony McFarland Jr.
“We’ve been through a lot of adversity, man,” said McFarland, who carried the ball eight times for 134 yards, a 16.8 average. “I love this team. And I learned we can fight. We can play when we trust our preparation and do what the coaches tell us during the week."
Even after Coghlin’s last kick, the Terps had a last opportunity after a 40-yard kickoff return by McFarland. But Michigan State (6-6, 4-5 Big Ten) held on downs and secured its 12th bowl bid in 13 years, a feat matched only by Wisconsin in the Big Ten.
“I credit Maryland,” Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. “We had opportunities early in the game that we squandered. But we kept hanging in there and had two big drives for field goals when we needed them."
The Spartans outgained Maryland 430-316, with 342 coming on the arm of Brian Lewerke on senior day. He completed 30 of 42 throws with two interceptions and ran for his team’s only touchdown.
Jackson was just 11-for-27 for 141 yards for the Terps, 96 of them on seven connections with Demus..
MSU had been outscored 144-27 by Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan. But Dantonio’s players took a three-point lead on the game’s first possession when a penalty forced it to settle for a 40-yard Coghlin field goal.
The Spartans seemed set to expand that margin when Jackson was intercepted by Josiah Scott at the Maryland 46. But Elijah Collins was stopped for a 3-yard loss on a fourth-and-1 smash at the 4.
Demus promptly fumbled to Antjuan Simmons at the Maryland 18. But one snap later, Lewerke’s under-thrown pass was picked off by Marcus Lewis for a touchback. And another MSU series ended with Deontae Banks’ interception return to the 41.
After Coghlin’s 36-yard field goal made it 7-6, Maryland drove 54 yards to the MSU 27, but lost possession when Jackson overthrew an open McFarland on fourth-and-3.
The Spartans soon took the lead with a 73-yard push, capped by a 1-yard Lewerke keeper. Freshman Tre Mosley did much of the work and finished with nine grabs for 73 yards, being forced to burn his redshirt year with his fifth appearance.
The Terps’ final chance of the half took the ball to the MSU 17 before two sacks and an intentional-grounding call moved the ball back 27 yards.
But Maryland cut the deficit to 13-10 with a 60-yard march and a 33-yard field goal by Joseph Petrino.
Five snaps later, McFarland bounced outside, showed exceptional speed and sprinted to the end zone before a blocked extra-point.
“It was a counter play, designed to go inside,” McFarland said. “They did a good job of collapsing the ‘A' gap. I just took it outside and trusted my speed. As soon as I saw daylight, it was a footrace."
The Spartans missed a chance to tie when Coghlin was wide right with a 45-yard field goal. And the Terps immediately threatened after a 43-yard burst by McFarland. But Jackson’s fumble was recovered by Mike Panasiuk at the MSU 27.
Maryland was 1-for-14 on third-and fourth-down conversions, keeping it from mounting sustained drives.
It also missed multiple opportunities to recover a fumble by Matt Seybert that slid out of bounds. The Spartans made the Terps pay with a tying 32-yard kick with 9:30 left, then finished the job before an announced crowd of 51,366, many of whom came dressed as empty seats.
“I just felt that we needed something to hang on to,” said Dantonio, whose players got floppy hats Friday that said “Program Win” to signify the game’s importance. “We did that in 2012, too, when we had a must win to get back to .500. It hasn’t been an especially enjoyable year.”
The Maryland program has miles to go to get where MSU has been with three Big Ten titles and College Football Playoff berth in this decade. But the Terps aren’t shying away from a mammoth task.