Maryland football capped its 2016 season Monday with a 36-30 loss to Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl.
In an unexpectedly wild game, the Terps fell behind early but fought their way back. They faced deficits of 16-0 and 36-13, but cut it all all the way down to a six-point game before falling short on the final drive.
Maryland shot itself in the foot just a couple times too many. The Terps committed four turnovers, allowed eight BC sacks and were scorched too frequently early in the proceedings.
The Boston College offense, which averaged just 19 points per game in the regular season, put up 29 in the first half. The Eagles were consistently gifted with strong field position (starting at their own 48, on average) and capitalized. However, Maryland clamped down in the second half, holding BC scoreless after a defensive touchdown at the start of the third quarter.
The Terps needed big plays to stay in the game, and they got them. First, it was Ty Johnson on the ground. Then it was bombs to Teldrick Morgan and Levern Jacobs. But Maryland couldn’t move the ball in the final minutes.
Perry Hills ended his Maryland career with a fittingly up-and-down game. The senior turned it over four times, but energized the team with some explosive gains. He completed 15 of his 35 passes for 229 yards and two scores.
Maryland couldn’t get anything going early on. The Terps had one singular yard of offense in the opening quarter and punted on their first four drives, a streak that ended with a strip-sack of Hills deep in their own territory.
Jon Hilliman’s one-yard touchdown rush started the scoring, but Maryland blocked the extra point to hold the score at 6-0. The Eagles scored again early in the second quarter, as tight end Tommy Sweeney was completely abandoned in the end zone. The margin reached 16 on a short field goal that was set up by Hills’ fumble.
The Maryland offense—read: Ty Johnson—came alive in the second quarter. The sophomore broke free for a 62-yard run that put the Terps on the board, and he followed it up with a 30-yard score on Maryland’s next possession.
But BC kept pace, its chronically sluggish offense decimating the Terps. A trick-play touchdown pass from wideout Jeff Smith to quarterback Patrick Towles occurred between Johnson’s two big runs, and the Eagles ended the half by zipping 70 yards in just two plays to take a 29-13 lead (with two missed extra points) into the locker room.
The fireworks continued early in the second half. The Terps forced a three-and-out to start, but BC pinned Maryland deep, forced another Hills fumble and scooped it up on the goal line for a touchdown. Hills and Teldrick Morgan responded with a 63-yard score just two plays later, and a Hills-to-Levern Jacobs deep ball on the next Maryland possession made it 36-27 with only five minutes elapsed in the third quarter.
Things settled down for a quarter and a half before getting wild again. Darnell Savage gave Maryland a chance by returning an interception to the BC 17. The Terps followed with an absolutely bizarre, five-minute, nine-play, 15-yard drive that ended with a botched snap near the goal line. BC took over with four minutes left but fumbled it right back, setting up an Adam Greene field goal with 2:55 remaining.
Maryland forced a three-and-out on the following possession and got the ball back with just under two minutes remaining. But three incomplete passes and a fourth-down sack ended it.
Three things to know
1. The Quick Lane Bowl was actually really exciting. Neither Maryland nor Boston College is known for playing an exciting brand of football, and the over/under for this game was 44. Sixty-six points were scored in Detroit, with five plays of over 40 yards. Just in case you thought college football was predictable.
2. Ty Johnson is a treasure. When the Terps’ offense looked dead, Johnson brought it to life. His 62-yard scamper in the first half was his 10th play of at least 40 yards this year. With his 159-yard performance Saturday, the sophomore finishes the season with over 1,000 yards on the ground. He figures to be the centerpiece of the offense next season.
3. Next year begins now. A 6-7 record in DJ Durkin’s first season is obviously not the destination, but it’s not a bad place for Maryland to be right now. Eight months sit between the Terps and the season-opening visit to Texas, and there’s reason to believe Durkin will make the most of that time.