Instant Reactions: Maryland 29, Purdue 31

It was far from pretty, but Maryland suffered its home defeat of the season after Purdue handed the Terps with a 31-29 loss.  Instant reactions from SECU Stadium:

Inconsistent Offense Finds Limited Big Plays

Maryland had no issues moving the ball on offense to start the game, finding the endzone on the first series thanks to a big catch-and-run from Dontay Demus on the third play. The catch gave Demus his first reception of the day and thus extending his streak to 33 consecutive games with at least one catch. Maryland would score just four plays after Demus’s catch, giving Maryland a score on every opening drive to start the 2022 season. Afterwards, Maryland’s offense would fall rather stagnant after that and amassed just 76 yards of total offense on its next four drives. After Maryland’s defense forced Purdue into a three-and-out on its final possession of the first half, Maryland bounced back from a first down penalty in a big way as Taulia found TE Corey Dyches for a 68-yard touchdown, which ultimately tied the game at 17 with just seconds remaining in the half. The touchdown pushed Tagovailoa into a tie for second in career passing touchdowns in program history, another feather in the cap of a storied Maryland career for the former Alabama quarterback.

The big play would loom large as the offense struggled to find its identity the rest of the way. After going 6-of-15 on third downs on the day, Maryland’s offense generated just 36 yards of offense in the third quarter and failed to convert a critical 4th-and-one near midfield as the playcalling left a lot to be desired. Maryland’s running backs would find themselves involved in both the run and pass game on Saturday, including true freshman Ramon Brown who reeled in three receptions and drew one rushing attempt. Maryland took the fourth quarter lead on a 12-yard screen pass to Roman Hemby, giving Maryland a seven-point lead with just under eight minutes remaining.

To make matters worse, self-inflicted wounds loomed large against Purdue especially on the offensive side of the ball. After largely avoiding penalties over the last two weeks, the self-inflicted wounds reappeared against Purdue as Maryland was called for nine penalties for 75 yards. Purdue also declined an offside penalty after the original play resulted in a Boilermaker’s touchdown, but the offensive line was responsible for five of the nine penalties despite veterans leading the charge in the trenches. The only problem? Penalties weren’t the only recurring issue that resurfaced on Saturday afternoon.

Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa tossed his fifth interception of the season due to a poor read of Purdue’s coverage, setting the Boilermakers up with good field position. Maryland would have an opportunity to reclaim the momentum, but failed to hold on despite cornerback Jakorian Bennett jumping the route and getting two hands on the ball. Bennett’s mid-air fumble was capitalized, though, and Purdue WR Mershawn Rice got two hands on the ball to complete the catch, pushing the Boilermakers inside the Terps’ 10. Maryland was initially able to stop Purdue from finding the endzone, but a penalty (12 men on the field) gave them another opportunity and they took advantage with a one-yard rushing touchdown, giving Purdue its first lead of the day.

With three minutes remaining and one more chance to take back the lead, Maryland’s offense failed to gain one yard and once again relied on another critical stop from its defense.

Purdue’s Offense Finds Success Early

The good: Maryland did well to force Purdue into a one-dimensional offense. The bad? Purdue had little problem picking apart Maryland’s secondary. O’Connell finished the day 30-of-41 for 360 yards and two touchdowns and completed at least one pass to ten different receivers, but the Boilermakers were able to exploit the flats and middle of the field for quick completions. Running back Devin Mockobee was able to find success early and turned on the jets in space to pick up chunks of yards, then it was tight end Payne Durham who would pick up the slack. Maryland knew they’d have their hands full with Big Ten-leading receiver Charlie Jones, but were able to limit the big plays even with his game-changing speed.

Granted, Maryland’s defense found itself on the field often on Saturday as Purdue had the ball for roughly 19 minutes in the 30 first half, yet still amassing just 186 total yards of offense through the opening half. Later in the half, Purdue drove into Maryland territory with the game tied at 10. On 2nd-and-15, QB Aidan O’Connell escaped the pocket and picked up a handful of the yards but Maryland’s defense bailed them out. Linebacker Ahmad McCullough came downhill and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after hitting O’Connell following his slide, pushing the Boilermakers inside the five and ultimately ending in a Purdue touchdown to put Maryland in its first deficit of the day.

Purdue made a conscious effort to target WR Charlie Jones more throughout the second half, but again, it was Durham who was able to sit in the holes of Maryland’s defense to keep the drives alive. The tight end reeled in the touchdown with just over three minutes left to give Purdue the late lead as Maryland’s defense left them unaccounted for in the redzone. On Purdue’s final drive, Maryland yet again left Durham unaccounted for as he barreled his way inside the Maryland five for the final score of the game.

Big Second-Half Plays From Maryland’s Defense

With a game tied at 17 heading into halftime, arguably the most impressive unit regardless of the team was Maryland’s defense.

Maryland entered Saturday with nine different players registering at least one sack, the fifth-most in the nation, and were able to register another five sacks to stifle Purdue in key situations. That wouldn’t be the only big plays that Maryland’s defense would generate, though. After registering his first sack of the season in the first half, DE/OLB Durell Nchami forced a fumble on O’Connell deep in Maryland territory as DL Austin Fontaine scooped the ball to keep the game tied at 17 to open the third quarter. Maryland was unable to capitalize, though, after failing to convert on fourth-and-one from near midfield.

After Maryland was stuffed on 4th-and-one from midfield, Maryland’s defense answered once more after CB Jakorian Bennett reeled in an interception just outside of the redzone to keep the game tied at 17. The third would be most crucial, though, after LB Jaishawn Barham forced a fumble on Tyrone Tracy and came up with the recovery to give the Terps stellar field position at the Purdue 40. For a defense that struggled to win the turnover battle through nonconference play, the defensive efforts helped keep Maryland in the game despite the Boilermakers averaging five yards per play. In the end, though, Maryland’s inability to contain Durham loomed the largest in the loss. Linebacker Fa’Najae Gotay led the team in tackles (seven) for the first time this season while six different players at least assisted on a tackle for loss.


  • After missing the last two games, linebacker Ruben Hyppolite returned to the starting lineup, while defensive lineman Greg China-Rose missed his first game of the season due to injury. Defensive back Glen Miller was also inactive for the fourth consecutive game, while OLB Kellan Wyatt did not dress after appearing in the first five games.
  • With TE Corey Dyches’s 68-yard touchdown before halftime, QB Taulia Tagovailoa is now tied for second in program history in career passing touchdowns.
  • With his first quarter reception, WR Dontay Demus now has at least one reception in the last 33 games.
  • Scouts from the Bills, Lions, Falcons and a handful of CFL teams were also in attendance for Saturday’s game.