No. 21 Maryland’s momentum stuffed as QB Josh Jackson, offense struggle in 20-17 loss at Temple

PHILADELPHIA — Perhaps the first two weeks were a bit too easy for the Maryland football team. Perhaps the newly ranked, No. 21 Terps came into Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday a little too confident, despite first-year coach Mike Locksley’s message and the memories of last year’s 21-point home loss to Temple.

Maybe the Owls are simply a lot better than Syracuse, or Maryland might not be as good many started to believe.


The result was a disheartening 20-17 loss that will likely knock the Terps out of the Top 25 — the fifth straight defeat for Maryland after being ranked — and take a lot of steam out of the build-up for the Sept. 27 matchup with Penn State in College Park.

While giving Temple (2-0) most of the credit, Locksley said Maryland’s offensive inconsistencies throughout the first half and at the end, as well as some defensive penalties on what turned into the game-winning touchdown drive for the Owls, played into the defeat.


“They out-executed in at least two phases of the game,” Locksley said of Temple. The Owls had more yardage (378 to 344) despite 13 fewer plays. And Temple didn’t give up any big scoring plays, as the Terps (2-1) did in a 79-yard catch-and-run touchdown by redshirt sophomore receiver Jadan Blue (Mount Saint Joseph).

“Obviously I’m disappointed in our ability to run the football down inside the goal-line area,” Locksley said. “Any team that I coach, we’re going to be a team that has to have the ability to punch it in. As I told the team, you’re guaranteed two things in life, and that’s opportunity and adversity. ... Obviously we’re facing some adversity with the loss to a good team.”

Maryland had several excellent chances to score on which it failed, and had an opportunity to escape with an ugly win. But the Terps were denied twice after taking possession deep in Temple territory trailing 20-15 in the final five minutes.

Redshirt sophomore running back Anthony McFarland Jr., who was stopped on a fourth down from the 1-yard line in the first quarter, was stuffed twice at the Temple 1-yard line on a possession set up by a 55-yard punt return by senior DJ Turner.

After a badly shanked 7-yard punt gave Maryland the ball at the Temple 10 with 3:09 remaining, graduate transfer quarterback Josh Jackson made two overthrows. He missed wide-open sophomore tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo in the end zone on first down and led Turner too much on fourth down, with the senior receiver catching a pass from the 12 outside the back of the end zone.

Temple ended the game and its second straight win over the Terps by purposely taking a safety.

“It’s frustrating because we [were] moving the ball all game. Inside the red zone we had a chance to punch it in numerous times. We just didn’t execute today as a team,” said McFarland, who led Maryland with 132 rushing yards and a touchdown on 25 carries. “It’s stressful.”

Asked how the Terps failed to execute, McFarland said, “Just everything that comes with football. Missing blocks or missing assignments. Temple played good defense all game, but as a team we didn’t execute.”

Jackson, who had helped Maryland become the nation’s top-scoring offense with 71 points per game in victories over Howard (79-0) and Syracuse (63-20), was out of sync for much of the game, starting with his second interception of the year on his team’s opening possession.

After throwing for 541 yards and seven touchdowns in the one-sided wins while being intercepted once and sacked once, Jackson finished 15-for-38 for 183 yards and a touchdown. He was sacked four times and was under constant pressure, before and after senior offensive guard Terrance Davis left late in the first half with an apparent knee injury.

“I’d say there was pressure, but it also comes [down] to me being better stepping up in the pocket and finding the soft spots in the pocket, so I wouldn’t put that on my offensive line,” Jackson said. “There were some great defense, great front seven and their secondary did a great job as well. I got to see the defense better. I didn’t do a very good job.”

Asked about the struggles in the red zone — the Terps also had normally reliable sophomore kicker Joseph Petrino miss a 42-yard field goal after pulling a groin muscle, then had a fake field goal snuffed for a 10-yard loss — Jackson said he would take the brunt of the blame.


“I think we had a few chances at it. We’ve got to execute better. I wouldn’t put that on anybody. If anything, just put that on me,” Jackson said. “The one I missed to Chig and I didn’t give DJ a shot by throwing it too far out of bounds. If anything, just put it on me. I wouldn’t say the offensive line didn’t do their job or anything like that. It’s definitely the quarterback.”

Said Locksley: “This is a team loss. Whether [Jackson] made great choices or not, we had two opportunities down inside the 1-yard line and tried to put the ball in our best player’s hands and we got stuffed. That sits in my craw. We need to be physical enough to get the ball to Anthony McFarland and get a yard.”

The defeat will quiet the hype surrounding the explosive start, and served as a reminder that the program is still rebuilding after four straight losing seasons and is recovering from the 2018 heatstroke death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair (McDonogh).

The Terps will now have a week off before No. 13 Penn State, which beat Pittsburgh on Saturday, visits Maryland Stadium for the first Friday night game in modern school history. Athletic director Damon Evans said Thursday that there were more than 14,000 requests for tickets by students, the most ever.

Asked if the bye week comes at a good time considering what transpired here, Locksley said, “Obviously we would have liked to have won the game and played better than what we played today. But for the way we played, yeah, the bye couldn’t have come at a better time because it will give us a chance to go back to the basics and make sure we get the fundamental things cleaned up and make sure our players can execute at a high level.”

Said McFarland: “I think a week off helps the team get rejuvenated, get our minds right for another big game, another good team.”

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