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Three takeaways from Maryland football’s 37-0 thrashing of Rutgers

Maryland pitched its first Big Ten shutout ever en route to finishing 7-5 in the regular season.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Maryland Brent Skeen-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland football closed out its regular season in style, bouncing back from a three-game losing streak to take down Rutgers, 37-0.

Head coach Mike Locksley’s Terps end the regular season at 7-5, a one-game improvement from the 2021 regular season. Maryland’s seven regular-season wins are its most since the 2014 season, and its four Big Ten wins match the most in program history.

Though November may not have exactly been the month to remember that the program and its fans pictured, the Terps were able to send their seniors out on a high note with a final win at SECU Stadium. Maryland now awaits its bowl game destination, which will be formally announced on Dec. 4.

Let’s dive into some takeaways from the win.

Rutgers was offensively inept.

Credit must be given to Maryland’s defense for coming to play against the Scarlet Knights. However, Rutgers came into the matchup with the second-worst total offense in the Big Ten, and that billing seemed to fit Saturday.

The Scarlet Knights were absolutely miserable offensively, starting the game with three consecutive three-and-outs and just 12 yards. Rutgers finally earned its first first down of the game with about five minutes to play in the first quarter but turned it over on downs four minutes later.

Leaving out the first half’s final drive where Rutgers ran the clock into halftime, and it had seven first-half drives and 25 plays. Rutgers had six punts in the first 30 minutes, five of which were three-and-outs.

Maryland’s defense set the tone, though, stuffing Rutgers on third- and fourth-down plays of two yards or fewer thrice in the first 30 minutes.

The second half did not get any better for the Scarlet Knights, who punted 10 total times. It was truly a disgraceful offensive showing for Rutgers.

For Maryland, it secured its first shutout against a Big Ten foe and its first against a conference opponent since a 26-0 win over Wake Forest on Oct. 18, 2008.

“Obviously, our defense has been improving all year long,” Locksley said. “And one of the things that I really liked was just seeing the mental intensity of how we played a week ago against Ohio State. Them being able to carry it over and have their first shutout since we joined Big Ten, which is a great feat, no matter the opponent.”

On his senior day, wide receiver Jeshaun Jones put forth the best game of his career.

Jeshaun Jones is a pretty easy guy to root for.

Jones came to Maryland as a somewhat unheralded recruit, ranking as a three-star and the No. 117 receiver in the class of 2018, according to the 247Sports Composite. It did not take long for him to make an impact, though, playing an instrumental role in Maryland’s upset win over Texas on Sept. 1, 2018. Jones had a rushing touchdown on his first career touch, a receiving touchdown on his second and a passing touchdown on his third.

More than 1,500 days later, Jones has had quite the journey for the Terps.

Jones tore his ACL in the 2019 preseason but worked his way back on the field for the truncated 2020 slate. Jones was once again healthy last season but suffered a second season-ending leg injury against Ohio State on Oct. 9, 2021.

“[Jeshaun] shows the toughness that you want, the resiliency, all pillars of our program, and he’s a guy that leaves it all on the field,” Locksley said. “I was really happy to see him be able to have the type of game today, coming off of two ACLs, the way he came and entered here with the big game against Texas, it was great to see him play the way he played today.”

This season, Jones played all 12 games. Some outings were better than others, but none topped his season-ending performance in possibly his last home game at SECU Stadium.

“That was one of my main goals this year is to finish the season, finish the whole season healthy,” Jones said. “And now that I’ve done that, that’s checked off the list and I’m appreciative of that, and I’m blessed man.”

Jones finished with 152 receiving yards on nine receptions — both career-highs — and hauled in a 27-yard touchdown.

“What helps is the guys around me, the guys that have been here through pretty much everything,” Jones said. “They know kind of how much I’ve been through and how much just playing like that means to me ... I didn’t realize it was that big of a game. But they were feeding me and I was just kind of going with the flow, and when they announced it, the guys all knew how much that meant to me, so it was a pretty good moment.”

It wasn’t the easiest road for Jones, but Saturday’s performance would put the cherry on top of a memorable career if he does not decide to use his sixth and final year of eligibility.

“My first recruiting job is to recruit Jeshaun to come back and play. He has another COVID year, I know it’s something that he’s entertaining,” Locksley said.

Roman Hemby put the finishing touches on a breakout regular season with a three-touchdown showing.

Coming into the season, there were a ton of question marks surrounding the Maryland running back group.

Sophomore Colby McDonald was returning as the team’s most seasoned back, though his playing time did not take a massive jump this season; McDonald did not record a rushing attempt in multiple games this season, including Saturday’s.

Three other running backs would round out the group for the 2022 Terps: redshirt freshmen Roman Hemby and Antwain Littleton II and true freshman Ramon Brown. Though Littleton shined at points this season, it was Hemby who took the reins — and ran with them — as Maryland’s No. 1 running back.

“It’s a big difference from where I was just about, what, eight months ago?” Hemby said. “It just feels, it feels really good because I didn’t come into this season with a set goal of how I wanted it to go, but I knew I wanted to help contribute and I feel like I’ve done just that.”

On Saturday, Hemby put an exclamation mark on his spectacular campaign this fall, rushing for three touchdowns and 73 yards. According to Maryland Athletics’ Jason Yellin, Hemby became just the sixth Terp ever to have multiple games with at least three rushing touchdowns.

“I feel like I’ve done a good job, especially looking back, I didn’t think I would be in this situation,” Hemby added. “So I was hopeful for it, but just seeing it coming to reality is definitely something that I love to see happen.”

A native of Edgewood, Maryland, Hemby turned into a star for Maryland this season and gives fans an offensive centerpiece to be excited about for at least another season. Hemby finished the regular season with 10 touchdowns and 924 rushing yards; he will need just 76 rushing yards in Maryland’s bowl game to become Maryland’s first 1,000 yard rusher since Anthony McFarland Jr. ran for 1,034 yards in his 2018 freshman season.

“It would be good, that’s a goal that we have set from the running back room to the offensive line,” Hemby said of the 1,000-yard mark. “It would be good to end the season on a bang like that and generate some momentum coming into next year. But we got five senior offensive linemen that are going out, so if it’s their last game with me, I think we can make that a special moment if we can get it done.”