Maryland football has seen its bowl hopes fade as the weeks go by, and those hopes took an even bigger hit Saturday night against Indiana.
The Hoosiers took down the Terps, 34-28, in College Park, in a game that went down to the final minute. The Terrapins gave up 520 yards and were unable to fully capitalize on 11 penalties, totaling 105 yards, being called against the Hoosiers.
Here’s a look at what made the difference Saturday night.
1. Peyton Ramsey played spoiler against the Terps again
With Michael Penix Jr. exiting the game in the first quarter, Peyton Ramsey stepped in and made his mark in this game for the Hoosiers.
Ramsey completed 20-of-27 passes for 193 yards and a touchdown, while also adding 46 yards on five carries rushing the ball.
“[Ramsey] is a good player,” Antoine Brooks Jr. said after the loss. “He actually knows how to use his feet, and he killed us last year moving his feet. He killed us again. He did good, and that’s how a quarterback is supposed to come in and play.”
Last season, the Terps were in Bloomington hoping to get that elusive sixth win under interim head coach Matt Canada when Ramsey played spoiler.
He went for 243 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the air and added 25 yards on six carries in a 34-32 win in November, 2018.
Penix presented some challenges as a true dual-threat quarterback, and while Ramsey is more of a passer, he’s capable of taking off as well.
Maryland linebacker Ayinde Eley had come up with a big sack at the line of scrimmage on second-and-11 at the Indiana 39 yard line, but on the next play Ramsey saw Eley blitzing untouched and was able to step up and scramble 15 yards for a first down.
That new set of downs allowed the Hoosiers to run the ball three more times, eventually taking seven minutes and four seconds off of the clock to start the fourth quarter.
The Terrapins fell victim to an experienced quarterback that stepped in and made plays to give his team the win. Ramsey’s ability to use his feet efficiently, make quality throws and command the clock made all the difference in this year’s matchup.
2. While penalties were down overall, they were still costly
Maryland and Indiana combined for a whopping 17 penalties, totaling 167 yards, but these numbers actually favored the Terrapins.
After nine penalties for 67 yards against Purdue, Maryland accounted for just six penalties for 62 yards in the loss to Indiana.
“Penalties went down today, but they still continue to happen at inopportune times,” Locksley said.
The Terrapins faced an uphill battle early as Isaiah Davis was called for a late-hit, personal foul that was reviewed and turned into targeting and resulted in an ejection.
Perhaps the most costly penalty, however, came towards the end of the first half, as Bryce Brand was flagged for offsides on a third-and-9 play that originally resulted in an incomplete pass.
Ramsey was able to capitalize off of that second chance, leading the Hoosiers to a touchdown just three plays later to lead 24-21 going into the half.
Late in the fourth quarter, after a Javon Leake fumble, the Maryland defense managed to hold Indiana to just a field goal, keeping it as a one score game. But, one the first play of the drive, Darryl Jones was called for an illegal blindside block on an incomplete pass that really set the Terrapins back as they attempted to drive.
Throwing off that rhythm didn’t have an immediate impact, as the Terrapins were able to get the ball moving downfield, but it did take time off of the clock and create more work on a drive that ended with a Tyrrell Pigrome interception.
As teams fight for a spot in postseason play, small plays and mistakes such as those penalties are what separate the good and the average teams.
3. Maryland’s defense held its own, despite the numbers
Indiana may have racked up 527 yards of offense against the Terrapins and put up 34 points, but Maryland held the Hoosiers to just 10 points in the second half and made key plays when they were necessary.
The defense got its first spark in the second quarter when Antoine Brooks Jr. came up with an interception of Peyton Ramsey in the redzone. Indiana is a team that thrives on using its tight end, but Ramsey would pay the price as his pass to Peyton Hendershot was tipped up and over to Brooks.
“They made a lot of plays in the second half for us,” running back Javon Leake said. “You know, came back and [Antoine Brooks Jr.] had a big interception, so you know, defense definitely played hard.”
That drive would stand as the only time either team failed to score when passing the opposing team’s 20-yard line.
While the offense struggled to put points on the board, the Terrapins came up big towards the end of the game by giving the offense more chances to win the game.
Indiana was able to strip Leake of the football on the first play of a series with 3:50 remaining in the game, and took over on the Maryland 15 yard line. Grasping onto a three-point lead, the Hoosiers could have put the game away with a touchdown, but the Terrapins pushed them back one yard in three plays and held them to just a field goal.
Maryland’s offense was given multiple chances by the defense to put a stamp on this game —including a potential game-winning drive despite Leake’s mistake — but was simply unable to execute.