Maryland football routed on road by No. 15 Michigan, 42-21, for first Big Ten loss

For The Baltimore Sun

The season-long bugaboo for the Maryland football team continued to hurt it Saturday at Michigan.

And now, penalties are already taking their toll on the Terps for next week.

Interim coach Matt Canada’s team continued to attract yellow flags at a rapid rate in a 42-21 loss at No. 15 Michigan.

Maryland (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) entered the game as the sixth-most penalized team out of 129 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and added 12 more Saturday.

The Michigan defense, which entered ranked No. 1 in the nation, dominated Maryland, but Canada is growing frustrated with the mental errors.

“Again, the penalties and the miscommunications and those things fall back on me. We’ve got to find a way to get them fixed in critical times against good teams,” Canada said. “That’s my fault and I’ll take the blame for that, but we will get it fixed, and we’ll get it fixed before we play another football game.”

In the first half of that next game, Saturday at home against Rutgers, the Terps will be without two defensive players because of targeting penalties against Michigan.

Linebacker Tre Watson, who entered tied for the Big Ten lead in tackles per game, and reserve defensive back Rayshad Lewis were ejected in the third quarter.

“It’s a tremendous loss; I can’t comment on that. I have an opinion, but I can’t comment on that,” said Canada, filling in for head coach DJ Durkin, who has been on administrative leave since August. “I know I’m just sitting up here because of the situation, but I do know that rule that I cannot comment.”

Offensively, the Terps managed just 11 first downs and racked up 107 yards on penalties in the Big Ten East rout. Michigan (5-1, 3-0) outgained Maryland, 291 yards to 42, in the first half. Overall, the Wolverines had 465 yards to Maryland’s 220.

“They’re fast, they flow very fast, very disciplined,” sophomore running back Tayon Fleet-Davis said of Michigan. “All the guys altogether are very strong. It’s a good defense.”

Michigan set a physical tone early, as All-American linebacker Devin Bush Jr. hit redshirt freshman quarterback Kasim Hill with a crushing roughing the passer penalty on the Terps’ first play from scrimmage.

The bright spot for Maryland came early as Ty Johnson took a first-quarter kickoff 98 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown to give the Terps a 7-3 lead.

However, Canada lamented how the swing forced the Maryland defense back on the field.

“The blessing and the curse of the special teams or defense scores, your defense has to go back out on the field. And our defense had to play a lot of snaps in the first half,” Canada said after his team ran 17 plays before halftime compared to 44 for Michigan.

Two possessions after Johnson’s kickoff return, Michigan went on an 11-play, 95-yard drive that was capped by Ben Mason’s 1-yard touchdown run for a 10-7 lead. The Wolverines rolled from there.

Michigan would score 24 straight points until Terps running back Javon Leake ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 11:28 remaining.

After the game, Canada twice brought up his team’s first drive of the second half.

Down 17-7, the Terps committed three penalties in the first four snaps. Tight end Avery Edwards and guard Sean Christie, both seniors, were flagged and Maryland was called for an illegal formation, forcing a punt that set up a Michigan field goal.

On the team’s second drive of the third quarter, Johnson fumbled the kickoff, recovered it and then ran out of his end zone, getting tackled at the Maryland 2-yard line.

“We weren’t assignment-sound,” Canada said. “With mistakes and the no-talent issues that we had, the penalties and things that we had, it just puts you in a bad spot.”

Terps backup quarterback Tyrrell Pigmore closed the scoring with a late 5-yard touchdown.

Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson completed 19 of 27 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns in the win. The junior Ole Miss transfer evaded pass rushers and made plays on the run throughout the game, including a pass through the Maryland secondary to for a 22-yard touchdown where Lewis and Darnell Savage Jr. collided.

“He’s a good running quarterback,” Maryland defensive back Antoine Brooks Jr. said. “He works real well working out of the pocket. We tried to keep him in the pocket, but a good quarterback made good plays.”

Karan Higdon ran for 103 yards on 25 attempts for the Wolverines.

Hill was 5-for-10 passing for 62 yards and an interception, only the fourth turnover of the season for the Terps.

Johnson, who also had a kickoff return for a touchdown last season at Ohio State, was held to 3 yards rushing on five carries and left the game in the fourth quarter with an injury.

Canada said he expected Johnson to be OK, as the Terps are already dealing with the loss of running back Lorenzo Harrison III to a knee injury.

Savage had an interception of Patterson late in the first quarter. Earlier in the game, Savage was jumped over by Mason.

The start of the game was delayed a little over an hour because of lightning in the area. Still, 109,531 fans were in attendance at “The Big House.”

Maryland will host Rutgers on Saturday in a matchup of two of the three unranked teams in the seven-team Big Ten East.

Rutgers (1-5, 0-3) lost, 38-17, to Illinois on Saturday.

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