Purdue, leading by 19 points, was facing third-and-17 in the final minute of the third quarter. Being forced out of the pocket by three Maryland defenders, quarterback Jack Plummer climbed the pocket and directed tight end Brycen Hopkins to an open area within the Terps’ secondary.
Plummer fired a dart to Hopkins, connecting for a 38-yard reception. Five plays later, Purdue put the game away with a touchdown to go up four scores. There was no coming back for the Terps from there, leaving West Lafayette, Indiana, with a 40-14 loss.
Maryland (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) allowed Purdue (2-4, 1-2) to convert 24 first downs and go 11-18 on third down. Plummer, who has averaged 182 passing yards in his previous two starts and only had 545 yards on 97 attempts in three games, led the Boilermaker offense to 420 passing yards and three touchdowns in the air.
The Terps entered the game with an impressive record in stops, ranking 21st in the country in opponent’s third down conversion rate. And this was an offense coach Mike Locksley’s squad should’ve handled easily.
The Boilermakers averaged 24.8 points per game and only managed to convert 35 percent of their third-down chances. Plummer had thrown four interceptions and been sacked 14 times, looking unsteady since taking over for injured starter Elijah Sindelar.
The Boilermakers were without many key players on their offensive line due to injury and had had tried nine different players on the line in the past two games. Purdue was also without key skill players, including Sindelar and star wide receiver Rondale Moore.
But coming off of a game where the offensive line allowed 10 sacks against Penn State, Purdue was able to keep Plummer upright, allowing only two sack. And it only took the Boilermakers 13 plays to go up 13 points within the first quarter, both scores coming from freshmen David Bell and King Doerue.
In addition to its defensive woes, Maryland continued to struggle executing plays on the offensive end, getting in its own way time and time again.
On the first offensive drive of the game, Tyrrell Pigrome connected with wide receiver Dontay Demus on a 50-yard touchdown pass. However, the play was neglected after running back Javon Leake was called for holding.
On their last offensive possession of the first quarter, the Terps went for it on fourth-and-3 at Purdue’s 21-yard line. Pigrome hit running back Anthony McFarland on a perfectly executed wheel route, but the running back was unable to haul in the pass that would have resulted in Maryland’s first score of the day.
Maryland was able to put two scores on the field in the second quarter thanks to a 21-yard rush from Leake and a 61-yard rush from Pigrome, shortening the game to 20-14.
In the final minute of the first half and down 23-14, Maryland attempted to go about 70 yards with two timeouts. However, on the second play of the drive, Pigrome forced a ball to McFarland that was undercut and intercepted off by Purdue freshman Cory Trice for a score.
Maryland began to get some momentum in the third quarter, building off back-to-back 20 yard plays by Pigrome and Demus. But a misthrow from Pigrome to wide receiver Darryl Jones killed any positive energy right in its tracks. And Purdue scored on the very next drive to put the game away.
Three things to know
1. Terps still looking for answers in the secondary. Although defensive back Tino Ellis has been a constant factor in Maryland’s secondary, the senior did not see a lot of playing time on defense against the Boilermakers. Ellis was replaced by redshirt freshman Vincent Flythe, while freshman Deonte Banks lined up in the other cornerback position. Maryland’s secondary communication has been an issue all year, and today, that continued to be the case. The Terps allowed eight passing plays over 20 or more yards.
Ellis left the first half with an undisclosed injury, according to a team spokesperson.
2. Maryland is undefeated no more against Purdue. Coming into Saturday’s matchup, the Terps were 2-0 against the Boilermakers, beating them in 2016 and in 2006 during the Champ Sports Bowl. Today also marked the first time Maryland traveled to West Lafayette, Indiana, to take on Purdue. But the Terps’ perfect record was spoiled, taking their first loss in program history to the Boilermakers.
3. The loss puts a dent in Maryland’s chances at bowl eligibility. Entering Saturday’s game against Purdue, Maryland had a 3-2 record on the season. With their final four games consisting of Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State. If the Terps were to have a realistic shot of making a bowl game, the team was going to have to win today’s matchup. But now with the loss, Maryland is forced to win three of its final six games in order to make a bowl appearance.