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Maryland football mounts major comeback, sinks Minnesota 45-44

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The much-improved Maryland offense helped carry the Terps to victory despite lackluster defense.

Minnesota v Maryland Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images

After a pass-interference penalty in the endzone on receiver Jeshaun Jones, Taulia Tagovailoa and the Terps were set-up with 1st-and-goal from Minnesota’s two yard line with a chance to take the lead in the first overtime period. Tagovailoa received the snap, faked the hand-off and rolled out to his right.

With no receiver open, he continued to roll to the sideline before eventually calling his own number and diving the pylon, scoring his fifth touchdown of the night to put the Terps ahead in overtime.

The Golden Gophers managed to score a touchdown on their overtime chance, but kicker Brock Walker whiffed on the extra point attempt and the Maryland bench rushed onto the field to celebrate its 45-44 come-from-behind victory.

“It was crazy,” junior defensive lineman Lawtez Rogers said. “This is a big W for us. We were speaking, we were talking about winning this game and everybody was doubting us, but we didn’t get down on ourselves. We believe in ourselves and we came out with a dub. You can see the excitement run through the team.”

The Terps were down 17 with 2:03 left in the third quarter but managed to spur a 17-point fourth-quarter resurgence to force overtime, becoming the first team in college football this season to overcome a deficit of that many points in the final period of play.

“For a lot of guys, a lot of our seniors put in a lot of time, a lot of effort and to win like that on Friday night, that’s exactly what our team needed,” running back Jake Funk said. “Right after the game the locker room was crazy.”

With Maryland football down 38-31 with less than five minutes left to go in its Friday night lights contest, Funk took the handoff from quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa and got to work.

The redshirt senior running back alluded numerous tackles to storm into the end zone for a 19-yard score, tying the game and making the possibility of a comeback a reality.

“I’m not impressed at all. Jake, that’s what he does,” Tagovailoa said. “He’s a machine.”

On the following Minnesota drive, the Terp defense once again stepped up to the task after struggling through the first three quarters with Chance Campbell making a huge tackle to force a punt for the Golden Gophers on a fourth-and-2 situation to keep a chance at a victory in tact.

Head coach Mike Locksley and his coaching staff elected to let the clock run out on fourth down, sending the game into overtime.

The offense was firing in the first quarter, scoring three touchdowns to give Maryland its most points in the opening period since 2015.

And though the team came up big late, it was a much different story in the second and third quarters to land the Terps in a deficit that seemed insurmountable for most of the game.

The defense surrendered 325 rushing yards to Northwestern’s rushing attack last weekend, and it continued to allow huge chunk plays on the ground for most fn Friday night. Minnesota tallied 451 yards across 41 attempts with Ibrahim accounting for 207 yards and four touchdowns, scorching the Terps at every turn.

Minnesota funneled most of its offense through Ibrahim, who ran wild on a Terps defense that allowed three consecutive scores from Ibrahim on the goal-line to put Maryland down 28-21 at halftime.

After the Gophers received the ball to begin the second half, quarterback Tanner Morgan began to test the Terps secondary. Having only thrown the ball eight times to this point in the game, Morgan aired it out to receiver Chris Autman-Bell, who went up between two Terp defensive backs to pull down a 39-yard score to extend the lead to two scores.

With the game threatening to get out of hand, Tagovailoa led his unit out for the seventh time on the evening. A 51-yard rush from Jake Funk immediately put the Terps into Minnesota territory, with completions to Dontay Demus Jr. and Rakim Jarrett putting Maryland two yards away from making it one score game.

Freshman running back Peny Boone was given the goal-line carry, his first touch of the game, but fumbled the ball into the endzone, where Minnesota defender Justus Harris was waiting to pounce on it to end the Terps scoring threat.

Minnesota’s offense stuck to the game plan on the ensuing drive, continuing to pound the Terps with Ibrahim over and over again. Carrying the ball eight times on that possession alone, the Gophers efficiently pushed their way back into Terps territory, setting up a 25-yard chip shot field goal to put Minnesota on top 38-21.

Tagovailoa and the offense continued to try to mount a comeback, putting together back-to-back scoring drives to trim the deficit to seven with over seven minutes to play.

The Gophers took the field once again looking to protect their lead, but were met with more staunch resistance from Maryland’s defense. The Terps managed to bottle up Ibrahim on each of his first two rushing attempts on first and second down, with a sack of Morgan by Chance Campbell forcing the punting unit back onto the field.

“We knew that we would have to stop the run in order to win this game,” junior defensive lineman Lawtez Rogers said. “We just kept going and played hard. At the end of the day we all have a job on defense ... I feel like in the fourth and third quarter and the second half we really stepped up played our role that we had each play series and we didn’t take no for an answer.”

Funk’s 19-yard touchdown scamper on the next drive tied the game at 38-38, with the Terps giving the ball back to Minnesota once again with just 3:38 left on the clock.

Another defensive stop gave the Terps the ball once again, this time with a chance to win it. Tagovailoa managed to connect with receiver Brian Cobbs for 30 yards to get it Minnesota’s 39-yard line, but a pass-interference penalty put Maryland way behind the sticks. Facing a 3rd-and-25, Tagovailoa checked it down to Funk for 10 yards before letting the clock bleed into overtime, where Maryland sealed the deal to complete its stunning victory.

“Not one time did they flinch when we were down 17 in the fourth quarter,” Locksley said. “We just kept playing. We preach that to our team, that we’re not gonna be a team that watches the scoreboard. We’re going to play to a standard, play with the effort and habits and behaviors necessary to win.”

Three Things to Know

1. Tagovailoa proved to be an all-around threat. Through the quarterback competition this fall, Tagovailoa became known for his passing ability with Lance LeGendre pairing as more of a rushing threat. Tagovailoa’s bounce-back effort, though, highlighted his ability to be a dual-threat talent, as he rushed eight times for 59 yards, including a 39 yard touchdown in the first quarter and game-winning score in overtime. With his smart rushing, teams will not have to account for Tagovailoa as more than a passing quarterback.

The sophomore finished with 458 yards and five touchdowns, including 394 yards and three touchdowns through the air, along with 59 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.

2. Maryland’s receivers got involved. Almost all of Maryland’s talented receiving corps got involved on Friday night, with Demus Jr. putting together the most impressive performance. The junior wide out finished with seven receptions for 101 yards and a score, while Jeshaun Jones (three rec, 103 yards, TD), Rakim Jarrett (six rec, 68 yards), Darryl Jones (three rec, 48 yards) and Brian Cobbs (four rec, 52 yards) each providing solid contributions as well. The connection between Tagovailoa and his receivers is still certainly a work in progress, but the growth shown in Friday’s contest is an encouraging sign.

3. The Terps continued to be hurt by turnovers. After an outing where Maryland turned the ball over four times against Northwestern, Locksley and his team fought to limit mistakes, but they came at inopportune times. Tagovailoa had a pass tipped and intercepted as the Terps tried to fight back in the first half, and Boone’s fumble on the one yard line put a damper on the team’s second half fight back. While there was progress in the amount of mistakes, Locksley and his team still have work to do.