Billy Edwards Jr. Gets Maryland One Step Closer to Bowl Eligibility

Maryland football leaves Memorial Stadium with a loss and an injured quarterback.

Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa went down with a right knee injury and was carted off the field early in the fourth quarter. In the past decade, the Terps had severe bad luck with quarterbacks and knee injuries. Tagovailoa is the program’s fearless leader. They go as he goes. Head coach Mike Locksley will await further results but adding that Taulia was in good spirits in the locker room.

“It was a lower leg injury. I don’t know if it was knee or ankle by the time I got in there, probably won’t be clear until tomorrow. Hopefully when we get back, we can get an MRI. I know he was in there celebrating with his teammates so that was good to see,” Locksley added. “But I think we’ll know a lot more after we get the MRI.” It was already doubtful that cornerback Gavin Gibson and safety Glen Miller would be available while linebacker Ruben Hyppolite has been battling significant pain since week three’s win against SMU, but the big hits came moments before kickoff as news emerged that cornerback Jakorian Bennett and left tackle Jaelyn Duncan would be inactive.

“We knew going into this game that Jaylen Duncan wouldn’t be available, our starting left tackle. He’s dealing with a family emergency back home and, Jakorian Bennett gets nicked up and banged up right on Thursday, the last play of practice of Thursday. So, you lose two starters like that and we, these young players are thrust in there,” Locksley added postgame.

Maryland opened the game with a turnover in its second consecutive game. Indiana quarterback Connor Bazelak threw an errant pass that was picked off by cornerback Tarheeb Still, his first of the season. It’d be the first of three takeaways by Maryland’s defense after holding Bazelak to 292 yards through the air.

“Kind of unexpected, just came right to me,” Still added postgame. “And then offense actually turned around and scoring off of it, it was, it was actually a very good play, and a lot of the momentum was driven from that play.” That happened when Taulia Tagovailoa found the endzone first courtesy of a three-yard rush, becoming the only team in FBS to record seven consecutive games that the offense scored points on its opening possession. The Hoosiers redeemed themselves on their second drive after Bazelak connected with Emory Simmons for a 40-yard pass that led to a 38-yard field goal.

With Duncan sidelined, Maryland shifted Spencer Anderson to right tackle, DJ Glaze at left tackle, Johari Branch at right guard while Aric Harris drew the start with Coltin Deery rotating in at center. “Offensive line wise, once we decided what we wanted to do to run the football, I thought they did a tremendous job of communication. They protected, you know, Coltin Deery in there, the young guy with this first extended opportunities,” Locksley added. “Was really happy the way that they responded and took care of things.”

Maryland’s next drive stalled, though tight end Corey Dyches made a highlight reel catch and run on 3rd-and-2, spinning off two defenders for five yards. Dyches came off his best game this season in the loss to Purdue last week, catching four passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns.

Maryland would find the endzone on its third drive after Tagovailoa completed an 18-yard pass to tight end CJ Dippre after scrambling to buy time, extending to an early 14-3 lead early in the second quarter. After that, the Hoosiers would score 14 consecutive points to take their first lead of the game.

After they notched their second of three fourth-down conversions, Bazelak found a wide-open Josh Henderson who ran down the left sideline for the score, cutting the Terps’ lead to four, 14-10, with just under ten minutes left until halftime. Later in the half, unforced penalties contributed to Indiana’s gradual momentum after Taizse Johnson was called for an unsportsmanlike that turned a potential fourth down into first down from the Maryland 30. Five plays later, the Hoosiers took a 17-14 lead eventually into halftime.

Maryland entered the Big Ten leading the Big Ten in both penalties and on penalty yards and Saturday was no different, finishing with nine penalties for 94 yards. The continued problem that’s plagued Maryland for years contributed to the team falling short from an execution perspective, which Locksley addressed once again.

“I’m not real happy with the way we play, how we don’t play smart. And we’re a good team and good teams don’t beat themselves and we keep talking about it. The penalties before the first half there allowed them to score points. At the end of, you know, the false start by veteran players. Those are the things that take away from our ability to celebrate a really tough, hard fought game.”

Maryland football starts the second half strong

Freshman kick returner Octavian Smith’s 54-yard return put Maryland football in great field position on Indiana’s 45-yard line. The Terps went no-huddle the entire drive, and it paid dividends after Dontay Demus Jr. scored the 17-yard touchdown, his first of the season, that put the Terps ahead 21-17.

Ryland, who finished 1-for-2 on the day, pushed Maryland’s lead to seven after connecting on a 36-yard field goal midway through the third quarter but Maryland’s defense would be tested once more courtesy of a 17-play drive that took over five minutes off the clock. Bazelak led Indiana into Maryland territory and another fourth down conversion helped sustain the drive, but after Indiana drew up a 1st-and-10 at the Maryland 8, the Terps’ secondary buckled down to force three consecutive incompletions. The bend-don’t-break mantra helped preserve the Terps’ lead, an encouraging sign for a young, thin secondary that was without a key player.

“I feel like they did good, especially Lionell [Whitaker] coming in, doing a good job, really just holding his own out there competing. You like to see guys do that. He’s young so he has a lot of potential,” Still added. Locksley called it a “hit or miss” day for his secondary that allowed 315 yards through the air. “We had a couple PIs, again, holding, not playing fundamentally the way we want to play the game. You know, obviously giving up PIs and as I say, competitive penalties I can deal with but when they’re in the same area and it becomes a fundamental flaw, then we gotta get it fixed. And you know, [Tarheeb Still] had a couple PIs today, one of those, you know, I question, but it is what it is.”

The Hoosiers seemed destined to retake the lead at the end of the third quarter after Bazelak dropped a dime to Camper on the left side of the field for 24 yards. Henderson finished the drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown, giving the Hoosiers a 27-24 lead. The Hoosiers’ offensive line had a lot of pressure on them in recent weeks with the firing of former offensive line coach and run game coordinator Darren Hiller. Rod Carey stepped in, head coach Tom Allen believed in his offensive line, and ran the football. It paid off.

Keep calm, Billy Edwards Jr. leads the Terps to victory

Billy Edwards Jr. led the Terps down the field in his first official drive after Tagovailoa’s injury and leaned on the running game to do so. His 31-yard run up the middle set up Roman Hemby to score from six yards out and give the Terps a 31-27 lead with 5:35 left to go in the game. After Maryland’s defense forced a fumble on its own end of the field to inch closer to victory, Edwards led the offense on a second seven-play drive that ended in a touchdown.

The Terps’ defense failed to get off the field on the Hoosiers’ last scoring drive. Two back-to-back catches by Simmons and Camper led to an Aaron Steinfeldt touchdown in the final minute, but a failed two-point attempt kept it a five-point game. After recovering the ensuing onside kick, the comeback was complete as the Terps moved to 5-2 (2-2 Big Ten) with a 38-33 road victory.

“What I will say is that this team has shown tremendous resiliency all year long,” Locksley said. “They play with the right effort. They understand how to come together when things aren’t going well. But I sure would like to see us play one of those perfect games where we start fast and finish strong and you know, we didn’t get that done today, but Big Ten road wins are tough and I’m proud of the effort and the resiliency that we continue to show.”

Maryland will host Northwestern next week for its homecoming game. Kickoff is set for 3:30 PM.

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