Down by three with less than four minutes left against Indiana, Maryland football was hoping to push a game-winning drive from its own 18-yard line.
But that chance was gone as soon as it started. After getting the ball on first down, running back Javon Leake had the ball ripped from his grasp, putting the Hoosiers in prime red zone position.
Indiana got an easy 34-yard field goal on the next drive, but the Terps still had one last ditch effort. A turnover once again put a stop to any comeback hopes though, as an interception by quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome sealed a 34-28 loss.
“We had two drives there at the end to win the ball game and we didn’t get it done,” head coach Mike Locksley said. “[We] ended those two drives with turnover, which again, good teams don’t beat themselves and we continue to do so, and I’ve got to get us fixed.”
With the defeat, Maryland moves to 3-4 on the season and 1-3 in Big Ten play.
Though the fumble would render it useless, the Terps had come up big on the prior offensive drive to bring the game within reach.
On first-and-10 from the Maryland 47-yard line, Pigrome faked a toss to Javon Leake, evaded a sack and threw a rocket to tight end Tyler Mabry down the right sideline.
On the next play from the one-yard line, Pigrome ran a speed option and pitched the ball to Leake, who charged towards the left corner of the end zone. He was nearly brought down by defenders, but fought through the contact and extended his arm past the goal line for the score.
The touchdown put the Terps within three points of Indiana heading into the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t get anything going offensively in the final period of play, with Leake’s fumble serving as their fatal mistake.
“It was just a good play by the defense. He ripped it out while I was falling to the ground.”
Entering Saturday’s contest, the Terps had the worst passing defense in the Big Ten, allowing an average 279.7 yards per game. Last weekend, Maryland gifted an injury-laden Purdue offense 420 passing yards, and those secondary struggles continued against Indiana.
In the first half alone, Maryland gave up 280 passing yards and nine plays of at least 15 yards in the air — four of which were over 25 yards. By the final whistle, the Terps had surrendered 334 yards through the air, meaning they’ve allowed at least 334 passing yards in each of their three Big Ten losses.
“The first two drives, it just was slow. We didn’t come out fast,” safety Antoine Brooks said. “They took advantage of the deep shots with the young cats.”
The secondary couldn’t stop Indiana whatsoever in the first half, and while the Hoosiers transitioned to the ground game coming out of the break, Maryland’s defense was still helpless in getting stops until the fourth quarter.
The Terps’ offense kept the team in the game throughout, as Pigrome had no issue running offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery’s plan, doing everything he couldn’t last week against Purdue. He had three consecutive completions to give Maryland a 21-17 lead late in the second quarter — its first of the game — but it wouldn’t last for long.
Indiana used an eight play drive, capped off by a 26 yard completion, to take a 24-21 lead going into the break. Through the first half, every time the Terps tied the game or took a lead, the Hoosiers scored on the very next drive.
And though Maryland’s defense was able to come with stops in the second half, the offense’s two late turnovers negated any chance of victory.
“This has kind of been an Achilles heel for us, being able to execute when we need to in critical situations,” Locklsey said. “That’s on coaching, that’s on me. I’ve got to get these guys to be able to play in critical situations and perform at the level that they’re capable of in critical times.”
Three things to know
1. Chance Campbell had the best game of his career. Senior linebacker Isaiah Davis was ejected for targeting in the first quarter, and that meant the rest of the linebacking corps would have to step up. Campbell did just that, as the sophomore linebacker finished with a career-high 10 tackles, all of which were solo, while also adding a tackle for loss and two key pass breakups. He previously had 13 tackles on the season in six games.
2. Tight ends were actually utilized. The Maryland offensive started off the season using tight ends heavily, as the duo of Chigoziem Okonkwo and Tyler Mabry were vital assets in Josh Jackson’s arsenal. But the use of the position had dropped off since the start of Big Ten play, as the duo struggled to find targets on a weekly basis.
Against the Hoosiers, both Okonkwo and Mabry played crucial roles, as the pair combined for six catches, 95 yards and a touchdown, though Mabry was roughly two feet from adding a score of his own.
3. Javon Leake picked up the slack. Against Indiana, Maryland had just two healthy running backs — Jake Funk and Lorenzo Harrison III are out with season-ending knee injuries, and Anthony McFarland was held out with a high-ankle sprain. That left just a pair of backs — Leake and Tayon Fleet-Davis — healthy and able to contribute for the Terps’ ground attack.
Leake stepped up to the task, ending with a career-high 158 yards on 23 attempts, finding the endzone on two separate occasions. While Tyrrell Pigrome was able to make plays with his arm, he was benefited by leaning on Leake from start to finish.