After being in the game early, Maryland's offense couldn't do anything against No. 13 Michigan State and suffered its seventh loss in a row by a score of 24-7 Saturday in East Lansing.
Maryland couldn't capitalize on an excellent performance by its defense, as the Terps' offense continued its inability to string plays together and stay on the field.
Similar to when they played Ohio State and Michigan, the Terrapins were tied with the Spartans late into the second quarter, but just did absolutely nothing offensively in the second half. Michigan State scored 10 unanswered points after the Terps tied it up 7-7 with four minutes left in the first quarter.
After Perry Hills looked good on the Terps' first two drives and racked up 70 yards passing in the first quarter, he was shut down completely. Hills finished with 140 yards passing on 14-of-30 attempts and threw one interception. Mike Locksley made the switch to Caleb Rowe at the end of the first half when Hills went out briefly with an injury, and Rowe threw an interception on his first pass of the game. Hills came back under center for most of the second half before Locksley put Rowe back in for the last drive of the game, which also ended in an interception.
Hills didn't get his usual running game going, as Mike Locksley wasn't calling many designed quarterback runs early. He finished with 39 yards on the ground, 32 of them coming on one run in the second quarter.
In his first start of the season, Wes Brown fumbled on Maryland's first possession, and the Spartans were able to convert that into a touchdown. Backup quarterback Tyler O'Connor threw a perfect pass to Macgarrett Kings to conclude a 50-yard, 10-play drive that gave Michigan State a 7-0 lead. Will Likely was robbed of his first career offensive touchdown in the first quarter when he was stopped a few feet short of the goal line on an eight-yard catch-and-run, but Brandon Ross punched it into the end zone on the very next play for Maryland's only score.
Maryland's defense played outstanding against the Spartans, holding them to one offensive touchdown in the first half. Yannick Nagkoue and Jesse Aniebonam led a crew of Terps' defenders who took up residence in Michigan State's backfield and Connor Cook's nightmares. Cook is one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, and the Terps held him to 77 yards passing on 6-for-20 through the air. Cook sufferred a shoulder injury on a hit from Ngakoue and played for a while before the team ultimately decided to go with backup Tyler O'Connor for the second half.
Maryland's secondary was just as good. Cook and O'Connor combined to go 12-of-32 for 121 yards passing, as Maryland's defensive backs rarely lost their assignments and knocked balls loose from Spartan wideouts several times. Anthony Nixon had two interceptions on the day, one off each Spartan quarterback.
Darnell Savage was all over his assignment on this play, but the Michigan State wideout still somehow reeled in the catch.
It was a dark time for Maryland special teams in the first half when back-to-back Terrapin punts by two different punters traveled 11 and 19 yards. Nicolas Pritchard was not happy after his performance, and took his frustrations out on a metal bench.
Its important to note that Pritchard and fellow punter Lee Shrader are both walk-on freshmen (Shrader served a redshirt season last year), and that Pritchard has been solid this season, bringing a 39 yards-per-punt average into Saturday's game.
Three things to know:
1. Yannick Ngakoue is taking the world by storm. He had two tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks Saturday, and got to Michigan State's quarterbacks more than the stat sheet shows. He was a constant presence in Michigan State's backfield, hurrying Cook on several throws and causing incompletions by himself.
2. Maryland's quarterback play is still bad. Another multi-interception game, another Maryland loss. After completing five of his first eight passes, Hills completed only four of his next 18. Caleb Rowe threw an interception on his first pass of the game, and added another late as the Terps were desperately looking to get on the scoreboard.
3. The season's almost over. Maryland has two more chances to break this losing streak and get its first Big Ten win of the season against Indiana and Rutgers. The Terps were certainly not expected to win this game, but they'll have a good shot at beating either of the two teams remaining on their schedule.
This article has been updated to correct three inaccuracies. First, Tyler O'Connor threw the Spartans' first touchdown, not Connor Cook.. Second, Perry Hills threw the pick-six, not Caleb Rowe and third, Maryland threw three interceptions in the game, not two. Thanks to Pat O'Connor in the comments section for noticing. We regret the error.