Maryland football was unable to take the victory in its Big Ten home opener, losing to Northwestern, 37-21, and dropping its second straight game in College Park.
Though the score itself was back and forth, the Terps’ defense looked overpowered at times during the afternoon. Maryland dropped to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in the conference with the loss.
Maryland struggled heavily to keep momentum up, and Northwestern’s Justin Jackson put the game out of reach with a 21-yard rushing score with just over four minutes remaining in the game.
The Terps were unable to get anything going on the ground in this one. Quarterback Max Bortenschlager ended the game as Maryland’s leading rusher with just 34 yards on 12 attempts and the Terps managed just 85 rushing yards. On the flip side, the Wildcats rushed for 238 yards, led by Jackson.
Bortenschlager got the start after his status was in question throughout the week. There was a scare in the middle of the fourth quarter, when Bortenschlager went down after scrambling out to midfield. After a couple plays where running backs Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison were managing the line from the Wildcat, Bortenschlager was out of the medical tent and back under center.
Bortenschlager led one of his best drives of the season in the first quarter. He started by hitting D.J. Moore for his first two completions of the game, his first going for a five-yard gain and the second going for 21 yards and Moore’s 100th career catch. Bortenschlager would cap off the drive with another pass to Moore for the game’s first score.
The defense started by forcing two punts and an interception by Darnell Savage, before holding Northwestern to a field goal on the same drive that running back Justin Jackson became the Wildcats’ all-time leading rusher. The Terps took a 7-3 lead into the second quarter, where Northwestern was able to change its fortune. On the next Wildcat drive, the defense was exploited by the combination of Jackson and quarterback Clayton Thorson for a 71-yard drive capped by a five-yard touchdown run by Jackson.
Maryland responded the best way it knew how: getting the ball to Moore. Bortenschlager found him on a slant before hitting him two plays later for a 52-yard catch and run to give the Terps a 14-10 lead and Moore his 16th career touchdown.
Thorson and the Wildcats would put up two more scores before halftime to take a 24-14 lead into the break. After a okay first quarter, Maryland’s defense broke down in the second. The Terps finished the first half being outgained 327 yards to 144, and Northwestern doubled Maryland’s time of possession, 20 minutes to just under 10.
Maryland’s fortunes didn’t turn around in the second half, but the Terps started to fight back after some struggles and another Northwestern field goal.
It started with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Bortenschlager to Taivon Jacobs for his third score through the air, and his first to a receiver not named D.J. Moore. Bortenschlager would finish 17-for-38 passing with 255 yards and three scores.
After Northwestern added another field goal in the second half, Maryland was unable to get much going, The game seemed destined for a 30-21 finish, but Jackson ran it in from 21 yards out late in the fourth. Maryland went on one last drive, but came up empty at the end.
Three things to know
- D.J. Moore continued to be the best receiver in the Big Ten. Moore now stands alone at fourth in program history for career receiving touchdowns, passing former Terps’ star Stefon Diggs with his first score. His second score gave him 16 career scores, while his career-high 12 catches for 210 yards tied him for sixth all-time in single-game receptions and pushed him past Levern Jacobs for 11th all-time in career receiving yards.
- The other Justin Jackson had another stellar day. Jackson became the Wildcats leading rusher on Northwestern’s fourth drive. He’d finish with 28 touches for 171 yards and 2 scores. The Terps tried to contain him, but to no avail.
- A couple games of keepaway took place in the first half. Like ... this is pretty unreal.