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Maryland struggles from start against Northwestern in 43-3 opening loss

Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) (Nam Y. Huh / AP)

Maryland’s season-opening football game was a long time coming and opening night seemed just as long for the Terps, who were throttled by host Northwestern, 43-3, as the Big Ten kicked off its pandemic-delayed season.

Maryland waited until just before kickoff to name Taulia Tagovailoa, a transfer from Alabama, as its starting quarterback and he struggled from the outset, throwing two interceptions in the first quarter.

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Northwestern used the Maryland mistakes to build a 30-3 halftime lead and the Terps never got their offense untracked in the second half.

Tagovailoa finished 14 of 25 passing for 94 yards with three interceptions and lost 16 yards on three carries.

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“He’s our quarterback,” Maryland coach Mike Locksley said. “He earned the right to be the starting quarterback, did the things that we thought would give us the best chance to win.”

Meanwhile, the Wildcats put up 537 yards of total offense. Quarterback Pat Ramsey passed for 212 yards and running back Drake Anderson rushed for 103 yards on 10 carries.

The Wildcats gave coach Pat Fitzgerald his 100th victory, pounding Maryland 43-3 on Saturday night.

It was just the sort of start the Wildcats were seeking after going from playing for the conference championship in 2018 to finishing last in the Big Ten West.

Ramsey, a graduate transfer from Indiana, looked comfortable in his new surroundings. He completed 23 of 30 passes and scrambled for a first-quarter touchdown — a promising start for a quarterback who helped lead the Hoosiers to their first eight-win season since 1993 last year.

Anderson had a 37-yard TD run. A.J. Hampton helped set up a touchdown with an interception. Charlie Kuhbander kicked three field goals. And Fitzgerald, by far Northwestern’s winningest coach, got a milestone win to open his 16th season.

The Terps opened Locksley’s second season on a familiar note after losing nine of their final 10 games in 2019.

Northwestern held the Terrapins to just 207yards while dominating the time of possession (37:21-22:39). After Maryland’s Joseph Petrino kicked a field goal on the game’s opening drive, the Wildcats took control in a hurry.

Ramsey led a 75-yard march, with Isaiah Bowser scoring from the 1. Hampton then intercepted a pass along the left sideline near midfield. And a scrambling Ramsey reached across the goal line as he was dragged to the ground on a 12-yard touchdown, making it 14-3 with 1:31 left in the first quarter.

Kuhbander kicked a 43-yard field goal to bump the lead to 14 with just over nine minutes left in the half. Anderson made it 24-3 with 5:43 remaining, when he burst through a hole in the line and got few good blocks on his 37-yard TD, and the Wildcats didn’t have to wait long to score again.

They took over at the Maryland 23 after Isaiah Jacobs muffed the kickoff and Cam Porter recovered the ball. That led to a 23-yard field goal by Kuhbander, and he added a 43-yarder as the half ended.

THE TAKEAWAY

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Maryland: A bad outing all around for the Terrapins, who went 3-9 overall and finished sixth in the Big Ten East with a 1-8 record in conference play last season. Their most recent winning season was in 2014. And if they’re going to change that, they have plenty of work to do.

Northwestern: The Wildcats want to show last season was an aberration and not a sign of things to come. This was a good start.

Associated Press contributed to this article.

NO. 21 MINNESOTA@MARYLAND

Friday, 7:30 p.m.

TV: ESPN Radio: 105.7 FM

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