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Maryland’s own mistakes kept the Terps from earning 6th win at Indiana

Four turnovers, 10 penalties and missed red-zone opportunities were too much to overcome.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Indiana Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

In what was a “normal” week of preparation, Maryland football found a new way to lose.

Instead of getting manhandled like they had in their previous four losses, the Terps gave their fans just enough hope that they would squeak out a win before Tyrrell Pigrome lost a fumble with 52 seconds left. It was Maryland’s fourth turnover of the game, another crucial mistake on a day where the Terps otherwise had a solid plan to become bowl eligible.

Maryland’s offense continued to follow the boom-or-bust trend of the season, gaining 542 yards. It surpassed its yardage against both Iowa (115) and Michigan State (100) in the first quarter (169) against the Hoosiers. The Terps did things they haven’t all season, including dominating the time of possession—they held the ball for nearly 40 minutes and ran 84 plays compared to Indiana’s 58.

With Pigrome at quarterback, Maryland was enough of a threat through the air to continue to open up holes on the ground. Anthony McFarland had 210 yards on 29 carries, breaking LaMont Jordan’s freshman year rushing record in the process. Javon Leake and Ty Johnson both had open lanes before going down with injuries as well. Even the Terps’ freshman wide receivers stepped up, with Jeshaun Jones catching six passes for 67 yards and a touchdown and Dontay Demus catching four passes for 98 yards.

But like what’s happened so often in the past with Maryland football, nothing ever goes exactly according to plan.

The Terps are 22-2 since 2000 when they gain 500 or more yards of total offense, with both losses coming against Indiana. The first loss to the Hoosiers came in 2016, when Maryland’s defense couldn’t stop Zander Diamont and Indiana’s running backs from wreaking havoc. This year, it was more because the Terps continued to shoot themselves in the foot.

Before Pigrome’s costly giveaway, Maryland’s three turnovers all resulted in Indiana points. Hoosiers quarterback Peyton Ramsey picked the Terps defense apart off the first two giveaways, then Maryland’s defense held and forced a field goal after the third turnover.

Ramsey had his way for most of the afternoon, and the Terps made him look like a different quarterback than he has all season. He came into Saturday’s game averaging nine yards per completion, but looked like a gunslinger all afternoon. Ramsey’s 16 completions went for 243 yards, and he picked on Maryland’s defensive backs throughout the game, drawing four pass interference penalties. RaVon Davis had a particularly rough day, getting beat downfield multiple times and getting called for three pass interference penalties alone.

The Terps’ offense committed six penalties as well, including three false starts that ended up being crucial. Brian Cobbs moved early on Maryland’s first drive of the game, pushing first-and-goal back to the 15-yard line before Joseph Petrino 29-yard field goal. Sean Christie jumped the gun after Maryland’s first touchdown, and Petrino missed the ensuing extra point. Then in the fourth quarter, Demus moved early and pushed a manageable third-and-5 back to a third-and-10. The result? Another field goal. If Maryland finishes off those drives, it’s probably looking at bowl eligibility.

But Maryland didn’t just lose because of consequential penalties. The Terps’ defense also gave up big plays at crucial moments. The biggest mistake came on Indiana’s first offensive play after Maryland took the lead. Stevie Scott ripped off a 27-yard run, putting the Hoosiers in range for the game-winning field goal.

In Maryland’s other four losses, it’s been easy to blame an inept offense for a poor performance. On Saturday, in what was likely the Terps’ last chance to become bowl-eligible, the offense had its way. But a combination of other mistakes was Maryland’s downfall.