Maryland football snapped its two-game losing streak with a 28-17 victory over Michigan State on Saturday night in College Park.
The win brings the Terps to 5-2, only one victory shy of bowl eligibility. This was much-needed, as Maryland still has its three-game stretch against top-10 opponents looming in a couple weeks. The team’s first crack at the magical sixth win will come next week at Indiana. If they don’t get it there, a Thanksgiving-weekend home game against Rutgers is their next-best shot.
Perry Hills returned to the field for the first time since the first half against Penn State, and the senior went off for one of his best games ever. He went 21-for-27 with 200 yards and two touchdowns. Maryland completed multiple deep passes, which is a stark departure from last week.
Levern Jacobs was Maryland’s leading receiver for the second straight week, hauling in nine catches for 67 yards. His 9-yard touchdown reception with just over three minutes remaining gave the Terps a two-score lead.
Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison were the stars on the ground again, rushing for 115 and 105 yards, respectively. Johnson had runs of 44 and 40 yards in the game, while Harrison had a 37-yard gain of his own. Kenneth Goins emerged as a factor in the second half, scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Maryland’s defense did its part, holding the Spartans to 17 points. Quarterback Brian Lewerke was just 11-of-24 through the air, and although Michigan State ran the ball well, the Terps didn’t let the ground attack beat them.
Harrison opened the scoring with an eight-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and Caleb Rowe connected with Kenneth Goins on the ensuing surprise two-point conversion. The Spartans responded with LJ Scott’s 48-yard breakaway run early in the second period. Maryland extended its lead when Hills found Moore wide open for a 36-yard score, but Adam Greene shanked the extra point attempt, keeping the lead at seven points. This allowed Michigan State to tie it with the 10-play touchdown drive that followed. The Spartans had a chance to take the lead into the half, but instead of kicking a 46-yard field goal, they opted to run a fake, which failed miserably, keeping the score at 14-14 entering the break.
If you look closely, MSU was actually pretty close to breaking this one.*— Ryan Connors (@RyanConnors_) October 23, 2016
*nope this made no sense at all pic.twitter.com/Wumc7pbSat
Michigan State had another shot at the lead on its first drive of the second half, only to fumble inside the 5-yard line. The Spartans bounced back on their next possession, though, taking the lead with a 34-yard field goal. Maryland took the lead back on its next possession, as 44- and 18-yard runs from Johnson set up a Goins touchdown. The Terps followed with an 82-yard touchdown drive that iced the game and brought them back into the win column.
Three things to know
1. The offense looked way better with Perry Hills. After recording just 291 yards of offense against Minnesota last week, Maryland brought that number up to 447 (an 18-yard loss on the final play of the game brought that number down just a bit). The Terps always seemed to have some semblance of a rhythm on offense, and that’s not entirely on Hills (the run game was solid, especially in the second half), but it’s notable.
2. The rush defense is still not good. LJ Scott had his way, and Brian Lewerke became the latest quarterback to burn the Terps with scrambles. Much like last week, Maryland’s opponent was playing with a backup quarterback and relied heavily on the run. The Spartans had 44 runs to just 24 passes, and gained 270 yards on the ground as a team.
3. Michigan State gave Maryland a lot of help. The Spartans had seven penalties for 84 yards, including a targeting call on linebacker Riley Bullough that resulted in his first-quarter ejection. Michigan State also had two turnovers (one of which came at Maryland’s 4-yard line) and threw away a potential three points by running the fake field goal to end the first half.