Hemby’s Three Touchdowns Help Maryland Top Northwestern, Clinch Bowl Eligibility

It was far from pretty, but Maryland did enough against Northwestern to squeeze out a 31-24 win thanks to secure bowl eligibility in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2013/2014 and the second bowl under head coach Mike Locksley.

“It’s significant for our fan base, it’s significant for our psyche. To get that part, it’s one of the first goals that we create year in and year out. That’s the foundation of what we do is every year to be a bowl-eligible team. But now what it does is it allows us with each next step, with each next game…if we take care of business the right way to have better and better opportunities ahead of us.”

He added that the Terps’ work isn’t done, they have a lot more work to do and are still in the development stage of the program. “It’s great [for] us to be able to bear fruit to the hard work, and these guys really showed tremendous character.”

With Billy Edwards stepping in as the starting quarterback in place of Taulia Tagovailoa, the former John Carroll product shined with three touchdowns and 179 yards to become the first Terp since Javon Leake in 2018 to record three rushing touchdowns in the same game.

Roman Hemby came through with big, big runs, big time plays. He shows exactly what we talk about, his ability to hit the whole run, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time for us. We needed it,” Locksley said.

Locksley added that the production we see out of the running game starts with the offensive line.

“It starts with the guys up front, man, and guys like Jaylen Duncan, Spencer Anderson, Jahari Branch, DJ Glaze. Those guys are veteran players, and we’ve talked about their growth and maturation. There’s nothing that’s been better for us this year than being able to have a complimentary run game, especially with young quarterbacks.”

At halftime, the offensive linemen spoke up about running the football. They’re a confident group and it showed Saturday.

After totaling just 69 yards on the ground in the first half, the Terps nearly doubled their yards per carry average in the second half and a big reason for that was Hemby.

With Billy Edwards filling in for an injured Tagovailoa, Maryland’s offense didn’t start off on the right foot after the offense registered just one first down on its first three drives and was forced to a three-and-out on the opening possession, setting the stage for Northwestern to capitalize with great field position. Luckily for Maryland, Northwestern struggled to get its footing early and punted on its first two possession but were still first to find the endzone.

“What we try to do is do things to calm his feet down. Anytime you see his feet, he’s making good decisions and Dan [Enos] did a good job of staying with him throughout it,” Locksley said about Edwards’ early struggles. “The receivers, again, they didn’t get a lot of opportunities today, but they were really unselfish and surrounding themselves to, to give Billy the confidence to let him know we had the confidence in him. Then the run game showed up big for us, which really helps the young quarterback.”

After taking over at midfield, Northwestern quarterback Brendan Sullivan, who replaced Ryan Hillinski on the day, found Malik Washington for a 46-yard touchdown before Sullivan found the endzone two plays later. That was when Maryland’s offense showed its first signs of life, evidenced by Edwards’ deep ball to Corey Dyches along the sidelines to extend the game.

With Maryland driving heading into the second quarter, Edwards found Rakim Jarrett for a pair of catches before Hemby’s 14-yard rush was successful to tie the game at 7. The Wildcats would respond, taking a three-point lead thanks to a 24-yard field goal, then extending the lead after Sullivan connected with running back Evan Hull on a 10-yard pass on down the right sideline.

Several plays before that, the Terps’ defense had an opportunity to stop the Wildcats in the backfield for a loss but Sullivan scrambled his way out of trouble for 11 yards.

Maryland had an opportunity to cut the lead to three before halftime on a 16-play drive that featured seven plays inside the Northwestern 10, but failed to find the endzone as Ryland made his lone field goal of the day, cutting the lead to 17-10.

The second half, though, started out well for the Terps after Dante Trader picked off Sullivan’s pass intended for Thomas Gordon, giving Trader his second interception of the season.

After failing to turn any of Maryland’s three turnovers into points against Purdue, Maryland fixed the issue on Saturday and drove into Northwestern’s redzone before Hemby punched in an 18-yard touchdown to tie the game at 17. Later in the third quarter, Edwards found receiver Rakim Jarrett for a 30-yard touchdown to the Terps ahead.

Maryland had a chance to ice the game on the next possession, but a missed field goal from Chad Ryland rejuvenated Northwestern’s chances as the defense was tasked with one more stop with over six minutes remaining but Northwestern would tie the game once more, making it a 24-24 affair with 3:34 left.

Then came Roman Hemby once more–and it didn’t take very long. One play and 75 yards later, Hemby gave Maryland its lead back and enjoyed an erupting SECU Stadium with just minutes until the Terps secured the win.

“It was just a simple play that we work all day, all week in practice, and it was the perfect time to run it in the game. We saw the front that we wanted, and I just came through the mesh and the linemen got their blocks.,” Hemby said. “The wide receivers worked to the secondary to get their blocks, and I just had to run and beat two people. I was able to outrun the angles that they had on me to score the touchdown.”

Hemby currently has 681 rushing yards and seven touchdowns. He’s 319 yards away from 1,000. He spoke about the milestone after the game.

“The offensive line, they do a great job opening up holes, and most of the time it’s just me, finding the right hole and running through it and everything like that. But, to have a 1000-yard rusher is a goal that we have set as an offense, and we’re well on our way. It’s a lot of things that we can get cleaned up and we’re gonna do everything we can to get that done.”

After failing to do so on the previous drive, Maryland’s defense this time would answer the call as safety Beau Brade reeled in an interception with 3:02 left as the offense ran out the clock.

The win gave Maryland its coveted sixth win of the season, marking the earliest that Maryland has secured bowl eligibility since 2001 and the first time since the 2013/2014 season that Maryland will make consecutive bowl appearances. Maryland did so without Taulia, cornerback Gavin Gibson and linebackers Jaishawn Barham, VanDarius Cowan, and Ruben Hyppolite as Maryland’s depth was significantly tested.

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