Maryland football entered Saturday afternoon on a three-game losing streak. When the Terps fell behind Indiana by two scores early in the first quarter, it looked like they were on their way to a fourth consecutive defeat. When they trailed by five in the second half, it was easy to be discouraged.
Instead, DJ Durkin’s team walked out with a roller-coaster victory.
The Terps allowed a touchdown on the game’s first drive, threw an interception on their second offensive play and then surrendered another score. Before six minutes had been played, it was 14-0. Maryland then closed the half on a 28-9 run. Indiana took a 33-28 lead into the fourth quarter, but a pair of one-yard runs by Jake Funk gave the Terps a two-score lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“It’s just a credit to our kids, the resiliency to just see it through,” Durkin said after the game. “There was times that the defense needed to be picked up by the offense. There was times that the offense needed to be picked up by the defense. I think special teams made some critical big plays that were huge for us. So it was a team win for sure.”
Maryland was outgained by 138 yards. The Hoosiers ran 97 offensive plays to the Terps’ 56, and held the ball for 36 of 60 minutes. They picked up nearly twice as many first downs as Maryland, while the Terps were penalized nearly twice as frequently.
But Maryland’s playmaking in all three phases was the difference. There was Darnell Savage’s interception, then there was his blocked punt and return touchdown. There was Javon Leake’s 82-yard kick return to set up the go-ahead score in the second half. On offense, the Terps had five plays of at least 29 yards. Sophomore quarterback Max Bortenschlager only threw 16 times, but averaged 17.1 yards per completion.
“We’ve felt all season that we’ve been just super close on so many plays, and it’s just a bunch of small mistakes and small details that we’ve been missing,” Bortenschlager said. “We still have a lot to clean up, but overall, I felt like we were able to capitalize on those details and really hone in on them.”
Saturday’s performance was far from perfect, but Maryland’s players responded to everything that was thrown at them. Even after falling behind and coming back in both halves, the Terps kept it together.
“I just think we’re a really close team. I think that’s the biggest thing,” Bortenschlager said. “We knew all along that we’d be able to move the ball on them. We had a couple mistakes early, but we were able to brush them off. I knew everyone on offense was locked in, and defense, they were making stops and making plays, so that was huge.”
The defense allowed 483 yards and 39 points, but was clutch when it needed to be. Maryland entered Saturday with one sack in the five games since its bye week, but had five sacks and eight tackles for loss. The Terps allowed just 73 rushing yards; they’re 4-0 when holding their opponent under 100.
It was a group effort, as 19 Terps had multiple tackles. Between a slew of minor injuries and Indiana’s sheer volume of plays, Maryland needed them all. This was a game that previous versions of the Terps would often find a way to lose. But that wasn’t the case.
“I wanted our whole team to come together and find a way to fight, scratch, claw and get a win,” Durkin said. “When you’re in a slump, those things are hard to come by, but that’s what it took today.
“It took every ounce of everything we had to get it done, and I’m so proud of our guys.”