COLLEGE PARK — Maryland football’s final home game of the season followed a familiar pattern.
The Terps continued to make life harder on themselves, committing costly penalties and executing poorly in the red zone in a 59-18 loss to No. 6 Michigan at Capital One Field.
Meanwhile, Michigan (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten) took advantage of Maryland’s mistakes and secondary mishaps to score 28 points in the third quarter to easily beat the Terps (5-6, 2-6 Big Ten), who must defeat Rutgers on the road next weekend to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2016.
The loss was the Terps’ 34th straight against ranked conference opponents and marked the fourth most points Michigan has ever scored in a road game.
“We got outcoached and outplayed,” said Maryland coach Mike Locksley, who fell to 1-9 in conference games played in November and December since taking over in 2019. “A lot of blame to be placed, and it starts on me.”
There was a point in the third quarter in which Michigan started toying with Maryland. With the Wolverines leading 31-10 with 4:51 to go, coach Jim Harbaugh went into his bag of tricks. During the kickoff, Michigan linebacker Michael Barrett threw a lateral pass to sophomore wide receiver A.J. Henning, who raced down the field for a 79-yard touchdown that gave the Wolverines a 38-10 advantage.
“Anytime you go down and score then allow a play like that to happen on special teams, it definitely takes away momentum,” Locksley said.
Michigan wide receiver Donovan Edwards feasted on Maryland’s secondary, catching 10 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown. With 1:33 remaining in the third quarter, Edwards ran past a busted coverage and caught a 77-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Cade McNamara (21-for-28 for 259 yards and two touchdowns) to give the Wolverines a 45-18 lead.
Maryland’s opening drive of the second quarter was the perfect summary of how its season has gone. With the Terps trailing 14-0, freshman running back Colby McDonald ran three straight times to put Maryland at Michigan’s 29-yard line.
After junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa (19-for-33 for 178 yards, a touchdown and an interception) threw a 12-yard pass to receiver Carlos Carriere followed by a 9-yard strike to senior tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo (five catches for 36 yards), the Terps were at the 5-yard line with a perfect opportunity to score.
However, Maryland committed three penalties in the red zone while Tagovailoa overthrew sophomore tight end Corey Dyches twice in the end zone, forcing the Terps to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Joseph Petrino to cut the deficit to 14-3 with 9:37 to go in the second quarter.
Maryland committed five penalties in the first half and eight for the entire game, marking their sixth game this season with at least eight.
Michigan was able to take advantage of short field position throughout. With under six minutes remaining in the first half, Maryland’s punt attempt was blocked and recovered by the Wolverines at the Terps’ 42-yard line. The Wolverines extended the lead to 21-3 when backup quarterback J.J. McCarthy (5-for-5 for 58 yards) threw a 13-yard pass to wide receiver Mike Sainristil, who made a one-handed diving grab in the end zone with 2:51 remaining in the first half.
Maryland’s mistakes continued in the third quarter. The Terps trailed 24-3 when senior safety Jordan Mosely caught an interception in the end zone, but the play was negated because of a defensive holding penalty on junior safety Nick Cross. On the following play, Michigan running back Hassan Haskins (20 carries and 78 yards) rushed for his second touchdown of the game to give the Wolverines a 31-3 lead with 8:50 left in the third.
“There’s a lack of focus in key situations,” sophomore linebacker Ruben Hyppolite II said. “It’s not a lack of discipline, ability or effort. It’s just the focus. I had some mental errors. My teammates had some mental errors, but we have to limit those.”
Tagovailoa provided the Terps’ best plays of the game during a depressing Senior Day. With under nine minutes remaining in the third quarter, he led the Terps down the field before throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to Carriere. On Maryland’s next possession, Tagovailoa scrambled for a 17-yard touchdown, and an ensuing 2-point conversion cut the deficit to 38-18 with 2:22 remaining in the quarter.
Maryland managed to outrush Michigan 181-151, joining Rutgers and Michigan State as the only teams to do so this season. Senior running back Tayon Fleet-Davis ran for 71 yards on 11 carries while McDonald had 68 yards on 11 attempts.
After Tagovailoa set Maryland’s single-season record for completions (287), he threw a pick-six to Michigan defensive back DJ Turner, extending the Wolverines’ lead to 52-18 with 34 seconds left in the third quarter.
“I wanted to get this done for our seniors,” Hyppolite said. “I feel for them. I wanted to get it done for them so badly.”
With Michigan leading 59-18 in the fourth quarter and the Wolverines playing their fourth-string quarterback, Texas Tech transfer Alan Bowman, Maryland could do nothing but look ahead to its matchup against Rutgers (5-6) with bowl eligibility on the line for both programs.
“We just weren’t good enough today,” Locksley said. “But as I told our team, we can’t hang our heads. We got to flush this one pretty quickly because we still have a lot to play for next week going up to New Jersey with an opportunity to win six which we hadn’t done since 2016.”
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