PHILADELPHIA — Down 20-15 with under five minutes left in the fourth quarter, No. 21 Maryland sat at Temple’s 1-yard line. A heroic DJ Turner 55-yard punt return had taken the Terps to the 4-yard line a few plays earlier.
But with a new set of downs inside of Temple’s 4-yard line, Maryland was unable to convert on a fourth-and-1 that would have given them the lead late. It was the second time this afternoon that the Terps were unable to convert on fourth and goal, and their fifth failed fourth down conversion of the game.
They were gifted another set of chances after Temple went three-and-out and shanked a punt out of bounds at its own 10-yard line. But with 2:14 left on the clock, once again, the Terps were unable to make a push to score, eventually falling 20-17 to the Owls.
“We had two opportunities down inside the 1-yard line and tried to run the ball and put the ball in our best player’s hands and we got stuffed,” head coach Mike Locksley said. “That to me is what sits in my craw a little bit, because we need to be able to be physical enough to lineup and give the ball to Anthony McFarland and get a yard.”
Today’s loss marks the fifth-straight time that Maryland has lost as a ranked opponent.
Maryland’s offensive struggles started early early at Lincoln Financial Field. During the Terps’ opening drive, quarterback Josh Jackson threw an interception on his second passing attempt of the day.
The Owls capitalized on the turnover, putting Maryland in an early 7-0 hole.
Jackson, who had a hot start to his Terp career with a total of seven touchdown passes and 541 passing yards through two games, looked out of sync and uncomfortable in the pocket throughout the day. Jackson finished 15-38 with 183 passing yards. Despite the single interception on the game, the Owls were frequently tipping passes and clogging his throwing lanes.
“It was pressure but it also comes to me being better at stepping up in the pocket and finding the soft spots in the pocket,” Jackson said. “I wouldn’t put that on my offensive line. We knew they were an edge rush team and they were going to try to get up the field. So I’ve got to do a better job.”
However, Maryland’s offensive line didn’t make it easy for its quarterback. Temple’s defensive line was consistently beating Maryland off the line up scrimmage and making Jackson uncomfortable. The Owls had two sacks in the opening quarter and finished with four on the game.
After 30 minutes of football, Maryland trailed Temple 7-2 for its first halftime deficit of the year. The Terps only points came from a bad snap during a punt that rolled out of the back of the end zone.
On the first play of the second half, Jackson was once again brought down to the ground. But following a first half production of 175 total yards, Maryland responded with an 10-play, 84 yard drive for its first touchdown of the day. Running back Anthony McFarland Jr. capped off the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run, which was his fifth of the season.
Along with that touchdown, McFarland finished with 137 yards on 26 carries, and fellow running back Javon Leake added 57 yards on eight carries.
While Maryland’s defense remained stout in the first half, allowing a one touchdown, 174 total yards and keeping the Terps in the game, it only took Temple one play to regain the lead.
But Jackson’s offense responded by orchestrating a seven-play drive that was competed with a 17-yard touchdown lob to tight end Tyler Mabry go give Maryland a 15-13 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
But the Terps couldn’t carry that momentum into the final quarter as quarterback Anthony Russo led a 14-play Temple drive midway through the quarter to retake the lead. The drive finished with a 7-yard reception by tight end Kenny Yeboah — the final score of the game.
“It’s frustrating because we [were] moving the ball all game,” McFarland said. “Inside the red zone we had a chance to punch it in numerous times and we just didn’t execute today as a team.”
Three things to know
1. Maryland struggled on third down. Through its first two games of the season, Maryland had a 60.7 third down conversion percentage, good for eighth in the country.
But against Temple, the Terps didn’t have a third down conversion until near the end of the first half. They finished the day going 5-for-21 on third downs.
2. Special teams were electric in a positive and negative way. While Maryland didn’t have much offensive production, its special teams had some interesting sequences. Defensive back Antoine Brooks Jr. recovered a fumble on Temple’s 19-yard line after Temple’s punt bounced off of one of its own players. Maryland’s offense was unable to convert from the turnover, but a bad snap by Temple’s long snapper at the 8-yard line rolled out of the back of the end zone and resulted in a safety.
After Maryland kicker Joseph Petrino missed his first attempt of the season, the Terps attempted a fake field goal with backup kicker Mike Shinsky getting the carry. The Owls were not fooled as two defenders tackled Shinksy, and Maryland turned the ball over on downs on Temple’s 16-yard line.
3. The defense kept the game competitive. Even though Maryland’s offense only scored two points in the first half, Maryland’s defense was the difference maker. The Terps held Temple to 174 total offensive yards in the first half, which was one less than Maryland’s total.
Maryland’s defensive unit forced Temple’s offense off of the field, as the Owls were only able to convert 3-of-14 third down conversions on the day.
The defensive pressure continued into the second half where linebacker Chance Campbell recorded his first-career interception, and defensive back Marcus Lewis picked up a Temple fumble.