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A closer look at Maryland's onside-kick recovery that wasn't

No, an offsides call was not the only thing that prevented the Terps from tying it up late.

Screenshot via BTN

Maryland lost its seventh game of the season Saturday against Wisconsin, but for a brief moment, it looked like the Terps had come within an extra point of tying the game at 31 with under three minutes to go.

After Caleb Rowe's touchdown pass to Levern Jacobs cut Wisconsin's lead to seven on homecoming at Byrd Stadium, the Terps lined up for an onside kick, which was their only option at that point.

Then this happened:

Sophomore kicker Adam Greene, filling in after Brad Craddock left the game with an injury, placed the kick perfectly, and after it bounced twice, Sean Davis caught the ball in stride at midfield with no Badgers near him.

Davis ran all the way to the end zone and celebrated. The crowd cheered, the band played, and all of a sudden Maryland looked like it could even potentially win a game for the first time since Sept. 19.

But hold up a second.

Jarrett Ross, who was on the other side of the ball, left just a bit too early, and drew a flag for offsides.

(Screenshot via BTN.)

So Maryland had to re-try the kick. In the NFL (NCAA data was unavailable, for some reason), onside kicks are succesfull about 20 percent of the time, according to Advanced Football Analytics, and the odds of succeeding twice in a row probably aren't great. Wisconsin recovered the second try and was able to run out the clock and escape with a 31-24 victory.

While it seemed like the offsides call was the only thing standing between Maryland and a tie game, that's actually incorrect. After a similar incident occurred last year in Syracuse's 24-17 loss to North Carolina, here's what dug up about onside kick rules:

ARTICLE 6. a. If a free kick is caught or recovered by a player of the receiving team, the ball continues in play (Exceptions: Rules 4-1-3-g, 6-1-7, and 6-5-1 and 2). If caught or recovered by a player of the kicking team, the ball becomes dead. The ball belongs to the receiving team at the dead-ball spot, unless the kicking team is in legal possession when the ball is declared dead. In the latter case, the ball belongs to the kicking team

"If caught or recovered by a player on the kicking team, the ball becomes dead."

So even if the penalty hadn't occurred, the play would have ended the moment Davis gained possession. Maryland would have had the ball at right around midfield with 2:39 left in the game, but that wasn't the case.

It appears the only way the Terrapins would have been allowed to advance that ball would be if it had touched a Wisconsin player first, which it did not. (A testament to the perfect ball-placement by Greene. His kick eluded the one Badger who seemed to have any chance at getting the ball.)

Maryland saftey A.J. Hendy put the play in perspective after the game.

"It's disappointing, but that's just one play in the game," he said. "We had probably 80, 100 other plays that could have changed the game, so it's disappointing, but it didn't lose us the game."

With Davis crouched on the sideline after seeing the flag, the BTN announcer summed the team's feelings up perfectly:

"That would have been unreal."