No. 14 Michigan wide receiver Giles Jackson fielded the opening kickoff at the 3-yard line, sprinted up the right sideline and made his move. At the 25, he cut right to evade Maryland football kicker Joseph Petrino and was gone.
Jackson ran the final 60 yards to the end zone for a touchdown just 11 seconds into Saturday’s game, completely silencing the Maryland fans that were already massively outnumbered by the traveling Michigan faithful.
The Terps (3-6, 1-5 Big Ten) went three-and-out on their first offensive drive, and the Wolverines (7-2, 4-2) scored less than five minutes later to take a 14-0 lead. They wouldn’t need to score any more the rest of afternoon — they did, though — as Maryland suffered a 38-7 defeat.
Outside of a Javon Leake kickoff return in garbage time with the game already out of hand, Maryland’s special teams faltered throughout the afternoon.
“The area I’m concerned obviously coming from this game is the way our special teams played,” Locksley said. “I thought we responded the right way in the other phases, but missing field goals, our punting game was very inconsistent today — which hadn’t been a big issue. And then again, giving up points on special teams, those are things you can’t do.”
On a 4th-and-1 from their own 27-yard line with less than three minutes remaining in the first half, the Wolverines lined up in punt formation, as anyone would expect them to do. But Michigan faked the punt, as linebacker Michael Barrett took a direct snap and ran up the middle for a 14-yard gain.
Michigan’s next play was a 51-yard completion to wide receiver Nico Collins on a well-placed ball from quarterback Shea Patterson, which set up running back Zach Charbonnet’s second touchdown of the game less than two minutes later.
“I wouldn’t say [that was] the turning point of [the game], but it did allow them to steal some points at the end of the first half, which we were trying to guard against,” Locksley said.
Even with its special teams paving the way for big Wolverine scores, Maryland was given chances to make this a game, thanks to ineffectiveness from Michigan’s offense for most of the first half.
Following Charbonnet’s two-yard touchdown run to go up two scores, the Terps marched into the red zone on the back of Leake, who had five carries in a six-play span.
But on a third-and-7 from Michigan’s 12-yard line, the Maryland offensive line turned invisible. Four of the five blockers up front completely whiffed on their assignments, allowing a pair of free rushers to pursue Terp quarterback Josh Jackson unabated.
The redshirt junior signal caller attempted to get a pass off but was hit as he threw. The ball lofted in the air, waiting for someone to claim it. That someone was Michigan defensive back Josh Metellus, who made a catch in traffic for Jackson’s fifth interception of the season.
“I guess I gotta get the ball out a little bit faster,” Jackson said. “I went from one read to the second, and by that time I was hit. So that’s just on me to get the ball out faster.”
Maryland’s next drive lasted over seven minutes, as the Terps once again methodically drove down the field in an attempt to finally score some points. The offense stalled at Michigan’s 20-yard line, and head coach Mike Locksley sent out Petrino for his fourth field goal attempt of the season. The sophomore pushed the 37-yard kick wide right, keeping Maryland off the scoreboard through halftime.
The Wolverines’ offense was far from impressive, but after running just 10 plays in the third quarter, it was able to add to Michigan’s already large lead. Patterson found tight end Nick Eubanks for a five-yard score.
Less than four minutes later, Hassan Haskins took a carry 14 yards for a touchdown to give the Wolverines a 35-0 lead.
Leake’s touchdown was a glimmer of light on an otherwise dim day for Maryland football. The fourth quarter came and went without incident — besides a Michigan field goal — cementing a 38-7 Terps defeat.
Three things to know
1. The losing streak hits four games. It’s been a rough four weeks for the Terps. After a 48-7 beatdown of Rutgers on Oct. 5, they’ve been steamrolled by Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota and now Michigan. Maryland’s lost by a combined 164-59 in those games, and with Ohio State on tap for next week, things aren’t going to get any better.
2. Javon Leake tied Torrey Smith for most kickoff return touchdowns in program history. With less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Leake fielded a Michigan kickoff at the 3-yard line and cut across the field from right to left. He cut upfield at the left hash and navigated through a sea of red and white, and by the 30-yard line, he was gone.
Nobody got close to Leake over the final 70 yards, and when he hit the end zone, he tied Torrey Smith for the most kickoff return touchdowns in school history with three apiece.
“That’s crazy,” Leake said about tying Smith’s record. “We used to watch all the GOATs, the kick returners that went here — Will Likely, Ty Johnson, Torrey Smith. So I just looked up to them guys and just [tried] to picture myself doing it before I got here, and it’s actually turned out well.”
3. Lance LeGendre made an appearance. The highly touted four-star quarterback prospect found his way into Saturday’s game — his first appearance since the season opener against Howard. LeGendre was deployed on two separate drives early on as a change-of-pace option, using his legs to keep the defense off balance.
Tyrrell Pigrome had been used in that role in Josh Jackson’s first five starts, but against Michigan, LeGendre was able to shake things up in the offense (Locksley clarified Pigrome’s injury played a factor into using LeGendre). The true freshman came in on Maryland’s final drive with less than three minutes left in the game, once again showcasing his running ability.
On the afternoon, he finished 1-of-2 passing for seven yards — his first collegiate pass attempts — while adding 39 yards on the ground on seven carries.