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Maryland football beats Rutgers to gain bowl eligibility

They Terps have their first win in almost a month, and they’re officially going bowling.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Maryland Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland football beat Rutgers, 31-13, to snap a four-game losing streak and finally become bowl-eligible. It was a long road for the Terps, who lost by a combined score of 149-13 against Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska in consecutive weeks, but they’ve made it to six wins.

Maryland and Rutgers aren’t exactly the class of the Big Ten East, and that was apparent on Saturday. While Michigan and Ohio State were battling on ABC, Maryland-Rutgers was relegated to ESPNews. This wasn’t a particularly well-executed game of football, but the Terps needed a win any way they could get it.

Maryland wasn’t particularly consistent on offense, using big plays to get out to an early lead. Kenneth Goins Jr. raced for a 46-yard score on the game’s second play from scrimmage, and Teldrick Morgan bounced around for a punt return touchdown to put the Terps up 14-0 in the first quarter. The Terps saw their lead shrink to one score on two separate occasions, but were able to pad it with a touchdown each time.

Perry Hills started at quarterback for Maryland for the first time since going down with a shoulder injury three weeks ago against Michigan. The Terps didn’t pass too often, as Hills finished 9-for-15 for 97 yards. Running back Ty Johnson broke away from Rutgers defenders several times, finishing with 168 rushing yards on just 11 carries. The team as a whole finished with 318 yards.

In a nice senior day touch, DJ Durkin sent walk-on fullback Andrew Stefanelli in with his team on the 1-yard line in the third quarter. Stefanelli took the handoff from Perry Hills and punched it in to give the Terps a 28-13 lead on his first and only career carry. He was one of 22 seniors, including injured corner Will Likely, who were honored before the game. Things haven’t always been pretty during their time in College Park, but at least they saw their last home game end in a win.

Maryland went up early on the Scarlet Knights, but couldn’t pull away. After the Terps went up 14-0, Rutgers scored on a 15-play, 72-yard drive to make it a one-score game in the second quarter. When Maryland led 21-7 in the third quarter, Rutgers went on another drive that ended in a 28-yard rushing score by Justin Goodman. The Scarlet Knights responded to Stefanelli’s touchdown with a drive that ended in a missed field goal.

Maryland’s defense had one of its best games, though that’s surely because they were facing one of the worst offenses in the country. Jesse Aniebonam and Jermaine Carter Jr. broke through a porous Rutgers offensive line for two sacks each, and the team finished with six. Carter also had a key interception that crushed a Rutgers drive as he ripped a pass right out of the hands of Rutgers running back Justin Goodwin.

The Terps move to 6-6, and are officially eligible for postseason play.

Three things to know

  1. It took a while, but Maryland is bowl eligible. The Terps took until the last week of the season to do it, but they’re at six wins a season after going 3-9. A bowl game isn’t everything, but it’ll be a nice way for Durkin to cap his first season as a head coach. There’s a lot of projections as to which bowl Maryland might end up at, and we’ll have more coverage of that soon.
  2. Rutgers was as bad as advertised. The Scarlet Knights were decidedly not adept at tackling, letting the Terps run all over them. They were competitive for stretches, but this is a team that is clearly well behind Maryland in terms of assimilating in the Big Ten.
  3. Maryland didn’t play its best game, but didn’t need to. This wasn’t a terrific display of football, but the Terps never gave up their lead. DJ Durkin’s team didn’t look great, but he’ll surely take the win.