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Maryland football ends season with 38-3 loss to No. 12 Penn State

The Terps come up one win short of bowl eligibility to finish the year.

Maryland v Penn State Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

Maryland’s 2018 football season has officially come to an end after an 38-3 to No. 12 Penn State. The Terps finish the year 5-7, one game short of bowl eligibility.

Like four of Maryland’s six losses coming into this game, the Terps struggled to move the ball all afternoon. The Nittany Lions outgained the Terps 565-259 and held Maryland to only 74 rushing yards. After running for a combined 508 yards in the last two games, Anthony McFarland had a paltry 12 yards on six carries and left the game in the second half with an undisclosed injury.

With Penn State clogging up running lanes, Maryland had to rely on Tyrrell Pigrome, which didn’t really work. The redshirt sophomore finished a respectable 14-for-23 for 185 yards, but had to escape from a crowded backfield far too often. He was sacked four times and harassed in the pocket countless others.

Just like the last two years, Maryland struggled to contain Trace McSorley. On his senior day, the Ashburn, Virginia, native threw for 230 yards and a touchdown while running for 64 yards and two more. When McSorley struggled at times, Penn State’s offense was boosted by a strong running game. The Nittany Lions finished with 310 yards on 44 carries, with Miles Sanders’ 14 carries for 128 yards leading the charge.

After winning the toss and deferring to the second half, Maryland’s defense didn’t really get the memo. Penn State ripped off gains of 34 and 35 yards on its first two plays, then McSorley took it himself on a quarterback keeper to give the Nittany Lions a 7-0 lead. Maryland moved into the red zone later in the first quarter after Pigrome rolled out to avoid the pressure and found Brian Cobbs for a 48-yard gain, but the drive stalled and Joseph Petrino hit a 26-yard field goal to cut the Nittany Lions’ lead to 7-3.

An Mbi Tanyi facemask pushed Penn State into Maryland territory on its next drive, which ended in another McSorley rushing touchdown. With the pocket breaking down, the redshirt senior ran right up the middle for the easy 20-yard score. The Nittany Lions led 14-3 after one quarter.

Both teams were relatively held in check for the rest of the half, but the Terps missed some opportunities to make game-changing plays. With the Nittany Lions driving at the Maryland 28-yard line late in the first half, Antwaine Richardson appeared to make a great interception inside the 10. But the pass was ruled incomplete, and Jake Pinegar ended the drive with a 25-yard field goal to push Penn State’s lead to 17-3. On the Terps’ next drive, Pigrome scrambled to find a Dontay Demus in opposing territory, but Amani Oruwariye punched the ball out. Taivon Jacobs caught a short pass and scampered into Penn State territory before Maryland’s last drive of the half stalled out.

The Terps caught another break when the Nittany Lions kickoff went out of bounds to start the second half, though they couldn’t take advantage after Pigrome ran short of the marker on third down. Penn State responded by running the ball down Maryland’s throat on a nine-play, 86-yard drive, with Ricky Slade spinning through traffic from eight yards out to extend the Nittany Lions’ lead to 24-3. Senior linebacker Tre Watson was ejected for targeting on the drive as well, further handicapping a struggling Maryland defense.

The Terps got one more break on Penn State’s next drive, but once again couldn’t capitalize. RaVon Davis punched the ball out of Sanders’ hands and Richardson recovered at the Maryland 28, giving the Terps some life. Pigrome drove the team right down the field until it stalled in the red zone, only for Matt Canada to call for a field goal at fourth-and-7 on the 14-yard line. Petrino missed the 31-yard kick, and Penn State scored on its next two possessions to put the game away and then some.

Three things to know

  1. Maryland missed its window to stay in the game. Following the loss to Ohio State, Matt Canada said six inches can decide a game. That was certainly true on Jeshaun Jones’ overturned catch and Antwaine Richardson’s overturned interception. If the Terps make those plays, they could have had more room for error.
  2. Matt Canada made some questionable play calls in the second half. After trying to pull out all the stops last week, the interim head coach didn’t appear to take the same approach in Happy Valley. Trailing 24-3 and facing a fourth-and-3 on its own 42 with eight minutes left in the third quarter, Canada sent Wade Lees out to punt. Although Maryland forced a turnover on the next drive, Canada elected to kick a field goal after the Terps drove the ball into the red zone. Petrino missed it from 31 yards, but it still would have been a three-score game had he made it.
  3. An unimaginable season is finally over. Maryland’s players went through a lot of things no one asks for in the past six months. The Terps continued to stick together all year, and could have easily folded much earlier. But even while they overcame a ton of adversity, they lost in a way that was familiar before the last two weeks, letting things spiral out of control when the offense couldn’t move the ball.