Maryland football was down 21 points with under five minutes remaining in the first half, but had a chance to put some points on the board following a No. 17 Minnesota punt that placed around midfield.
On the sixth play of the drive, quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome attempted to hit wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr. across the middle of the field. However, the five-yard pass was behind Demus, tipping off of the wideout’s hands and into Minnesota defensive back Coney Durr’s arms. It was the second misconnection of the half leading to an interception for the duo.
The defender returned it for a touchdown, placing Maryland in an even bigger deficit that it could never overcome in a 52-10 loss to the Gophers.
“All of our players have to learn that you need to play the play that you’re in, and then do it again the next play,” Maryland head coach Mike Locksley said. “You can’t play to the circumstances, adversity — you just can’t play that game or you end up losing 52-10.”
Maryland’s struggles began early, taking itself out of the game due to offensive miscues. On the second play of the game, Pigrome tried to hit Demus on slant route. But for the first time in the half, the wide receiver dropped the pass, which was snagged by Minnesota defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr.
Four of the next five offensive drives for the Terps resulted in punts, accumulating a total of 78 yards.
“Not converting on third down, not getting the job done, not executing,” offensive lineman Ellis McKennie said of the team’s offensive struggles. “You become a good third down team by being good on first and second. ... we didn’t do ourselves any favors.”
The Gophers’ first punt didn’t come until just under the nine-minute mark in the second quarter, accumulating 21 points on its first three drives.
With a plethora of quarterbacks, including Pigrome, Josh Jackson and Tyler DeSue, taking one or more snaps, Maryland grappled to gain much offense. The Terps finished with 210 yards for a total of 10 points.
While it did get put in tough field positions by its offense, Maryland’s defense struggled immensely to stop quarterback Tanner Morgan and Minnesota. Using a balanced pass and run attack with some effective Wildcat sprinkled in, Minnesota averaged 6.6 yards per play.
Minnesota accumulated 498 yards of offense to put up a season-high 52 points against the Terps.
After scoring its only points of the half off from a Joseph Petrino field goal in the second quarter, Maryland had a total of six plays in the third quarter, which resulted in two three-and-outs and nine rushing yards.
The Terps first offensive drive came around the eight-minute mark of the fourth quarter. On the fourth play of the drive, DeSue hit running back Tayon Fleet-Davis for a 59-yard touchdown reception — which was Fleet-Davis’ second touch of the game and DeSue’s first passing touchdown of his career.
“I’m proud of how Ty came in today,” running back Anthony McFarland Jr. said. “We basically just threw him in the fire and he showed up a lot.”
But Maryland’s biggest offensive burst came too late into the game as the team still faced a 35-point deficit, which would eventually expand to a 42-point deficit for an embarrassing loss.
Three things to know
1. Questions at quarterback still linger. Questions remained on who would take the first offensive snap for the Terps when Locksley announced that quarterback Josh Jackson was 100 percent on Tuesday. Pigrome got to start on Saturday against the Gophers but exited the game in the second quarter with what appeared to be a left knee injury.
Jackson came in for one drive in the first quarter but was pulled after missing Demus on third down.
“It was a coach’s decision. We put him in there, and we planned to play him,” Locksley said. “I just didn’t have the confidence when he came off the field after he missed a throw. My gut instincts was that he probably isn’t as ready as he needs to be.”
Third-string quarterback Tyler DeSue was put into the game after Pigrome’s injury, finishing 4-12 for 88 yards — 59 of which came on one play — and a score. Pigrome completed 6-of-9 passes for 43 yards and two interceptions.
2. Minnesota’s offense dominated. Entering into the matchup, the Gophers ranked third in the Big Ten in scoring offense, behind No. 3 Ohio State and No. 6 Penn State with an average of 36.4 points per game. But against the Terps, Minnesota was able to do whatever it wanted. The Gophers put up a season-high 51 points, totalling 321 rushing yards and 177 passing yards.
3. The next four games...Yikes For the fourth consecutive year, Maryland has gone on a three game losing streak. The Terps last win this season came against Oct. 5 in Piscataway, New Jersey, against Rutgers. And with No. 19 Michigan, No. 3 Ohio State, Nebraska and Michigan State ahead, it’s hard to imagine the team picking up its fourth win of the 2019 season.
Editors note: Thanks to Andy Kosta of The Diamondback, who sent us audio from Minnesota.