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Maryland football comes up short against No. 17 Michigan State, 17-7

It wasn’t a blowout, but it was a struggle all day.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

On a snow-filled afternoon, No. 17 Michigan State was just too much for Maryland, besting the Terps 17-7 in East Lansing.

Maryland’s offense didn’t show signs of life until the fourth quarter gaining more yards (113) combined in the final frame than in the first three quarters combined (91). Max Bortenschlager struggled in the first half and was replaced by Ryan Brand in the third quarter, but Bortenschlager came back out for the fourth and led the Terps on two solid drives. Maryland scored a touchdown on the first, but Henry Darmstadter pushed a 36-yard field goal on the second.

The Spartans imposed their will on Maryland early, running for 198 of their 271 rushing yards in the first half. It’s the sixth time the Terps have allowed over 200 rushing yards this season. They haven’t won a game in which they’ve given up more than 100.

Ty Johnson started the game with 14 yards and a first down on an off tackle run, but Maryland’s opening drive stalled after that. Michigan State methodically marched down the field on its first drive, going 69 yards in 11 plays to take a 7-0 lead. The Terps looked to have stopped the Spartans after an incompletion on third and goal, but Antoine Brooks was called for pass interference. LJ Scott punched it in from three yards out on the next play.

Throughout the rest of the quarter, Michigan State gave Maryland chances to show they could compete with one of the top teams in the conference. Like many other times this year, the Terps failed to do so.

Following its first touchdown, Michigan State kicked the ball out of bounds, giving Maryland the ball at its own 35-yard line. The Terps drive sputtered after one first down. The Spartans went three-and-out on the next drive, and Jake Hartberger’s punt was downed at Michigan State’s 44. Maryland followed with three straight incompletions.

Wade Lees pinned the Spartans at their own 15, but Michigan State ran it down the Terps’ throats. The Spartans ran it eight times in a row for 85 yards, and Lewerke kept the ball on a read option and ran 25 yards to the end zone for a 14-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.

Things only got worse for Maryland on its next drive. On third down, Bortenschlager’s pass slipped out of his hands and was recovered by Michigan State. Luckily for the Terps, Jermaine Carter punched the ball out of Gerald Holmes’ hands right before he crossed the goal line on the ensuing drive, and RaVon Davis recovered the ball at the one-yard line.

The rest of the first half was sloppy, as both teams struggled to move the ball on offense. Michigan State led 14-0 at halftime.

Maryland looked to finally catch a break in the third quarter when Matt Coghlin pulled a 32-yard field goal wide left. However, Jacquille Veii was called for an incredibly soft running into the kicker call, and Coghlin converted his second chance from 27 yards to give the Spartans a 17-0 lead.

The Terps finally put a drive together in the fourth quarter after getting good field position at their own 41. They picked up a first down on third-and-5, and then Bortenschlager found Taivon Jacobs over the middle for a 21-yard gain. Michigan State was called for a 15-yard pass interference penalty on the next play, and Lorenzo Harrison fought his way to a three-yard touchdown three plays later.

Maryland stopped the Spartans on their next drive, and then went to work on offense again. Michigan State gave them a lot of underneath routes and the Terps drove all the way down to the 18-yard line. Bortenschlager missed on a few shots to the end zone, and then Darmstadter missed a 36-yard field goal to end Maryland’s chances.

Three things to know

  1. The weather did not help Maryland’s comeback chances. The rain, sleet and snow in East Lansing made for a old-school, grind-it-out affair. Unfortunately for the Terps, it also made it much harder to throw the ball and come back. Bortenschlager went just 1-for-8 in the first half, and by the time he started getting into a rhythm it was too late.
  2. Maryland’s run defense is still bad. Michigan State had not run for 100 yards in its past four games. The Spartans surpassed that mark in the first quarter today. They dominated the line of the scrimmage, and Maryland’s front seven had no answer.
  3. The Terps’ shot at a bowl game is all but finished. Maryland could still get to a bowl game at 5-7 because of their academic progress rate with a win over Penn State. However, with Saquon Barkley in the Nittany Lions’ backfield, that’s highly unlikely.