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Maryland football cruises past Minnesota, 42-13, in Big Ten opener

The Terps followed their first loss with a dominant performance.

Maryland football Ty Johnson vs. Minnesota Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

It was almost like last week never happened.

After an embarrassment against Temple one week ago, Maryland football bounced back with a dominant showing against Minnesota on Saturday. The Terps jumped ahead early and never looked back, winning 42-13 to start Big Ten play 1-0.

Maryland scored on its first drive and held leads of 14-0 and 21-3 in the first half. After Minnesota cut the lead to 11 at halftime, the Terps started the second half with a pick-six and continued to extend the advantage. In all, Maryland outgained Minnesota 432-263 despite only running 51 plays to the Gophers’ 72. The offense averaged 8.5 yards per play, up from just 3.6 last week.

Kasim Hill rebounded from a horrid day against Temple by going 10-of-14 for 117 yards and a score. But the stars were running backs Anthony McFarland and Ty Johnson. McFarland tallied 112 rushing yards on six carries and scored his first two career touchdowns. Johnson had an 81-yard touchdown in the first quarter and finished the game with 123 yards on 11 attempts.

Maryland’s first drive was starkly different from anything last week, when the Terps had 63 yards of offense in the first three quarters combined. Jeshaun Jones’ 27-yard jet sweep on the second play from scrimmage was longer than any Maryland play against Temple and got the Terps in opposing territory. Hill would later scramble to convert a fourth-and-2, and McFarland’s 26-yard scamper put Maryland on the board.

Later in the first quarter, Johnson broke free for an 81-yard touchdown run. In peak Ty Johnson fashion, he accelerated through the hole and outran the entire defense. The run was a new career-long for the senior; his previous high was 76 yards against Purdue in 2016. This gave Maryland 181 yards of offense in one period after notching just 186 all of last weekend.

Minnesota followed with a 12-play, 56-yard drive that stalled in the red zone and resulted in a field goal. The teams traded two punts each before Maryland reeled off another touchdown drive, this one spanning 92 yards in seven plays. Hill evaded pressure and found DJ Turner on third down, and Turner somehow escaped traffic and took it to the house for a 54-yard score, the first of his career.

Maryland’s one bugaboo in the first half was penalties; the Terps were flagged seven times for 83 yards, while Minnesota wasn’t penalized once. Those flags aided in the Gophers’ quick touchdown drive late in the second quarter that cut the lead to 21-10 entering halftime.

The Terps’ defense responded to start the second half, as grad transfer linebacker Tre Watson intercepted Zack Annexstad and ran it back 36 yards for a pick-six. Minnesota managed a field goal on its next drive, but McFarland answered emphatically with a 64-yard breakaway touchdown run on Maryland’s ensuing possession.

The Terps led 35-13 entering the fourth quarter, and Byron Cowart’s strip-sack on the first play of the final frame dissolved a Minnesota scoring opportunity. The Gophers got to Maryland’s 11 on the next drive, but RaVon Davis picked off Annexstad in the end zone on fourth down. Annexstad finished 14-of-32 with 169 yards, a touchdown and two picks in his first career road game.

Tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo joined the parade late, taking a jet sweep 21 yards to the house to make it 42-13 with 1:12 left. His first career touchdown was Maryland’s shortest of the day; the Terps scored 42 points without reaching the red zone.

Maryland enters its bye week 3-1 and will visit No. 19 Michigan in two weeks.

Three things to know

1. The offense bounced back in a big way. Last weekend’s ugly performance resulted in 186 total yards of offense. Maryland answered with 181 in Saturday’s first quarter, 288 in the first half and 432 in the game. That includes 315 yards on the ground with two different 100-yard rushers.

2. Two starters returned on the offensive line. The Terps were without left tackle Derwin Gray and right tackle Damian Prince last week, and right guard Terrance Davis hadn’t played offense this season. Gray and Davis were back in the lineup, and even with Prince still sidelined, the improvement was noticeable. Maryland allowed just one sack and was rarely stuffed on runs. (Also scratched for Maryland: running back Lorenzo Harrison III and defensive tackle Adam McLean.)

3. The Terps had to overcome a huge penalty disparity. Maryland was penalized 10 times for 118 yards, while Minnesota was flagged once all afternoon. It’s the second time the Terps have been hamstrung by penalties—they had nine in the first half against Bowling Green—but it didn’t come back to bite them in this one.