Maryland couldn’t find enough answers on Saturday afternoon after falling to Michigan, 31-24, on senior day and dropping to 6-5 (3-5) on the season. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa finished 21-of-31 for 247 yards and two interceptions as Maryland outscored Michigan in the second half, 16-6, but the late-game blunders proved to be too costly. Breaking down our instant reactions from Saturday’s loss:
Michigan scores in bunches to close first quarter, take control
After winning the opening kickoff and electing to defer, Maryland was able to start strong after holding the Wolverines to a three-and-out on the opening possession. Meanwhile, Taulia Tagovailoa opened the opening possession in stride, completing his first five attempts while Roman Hemby added 26 yards on six touches. While the Terps weren’t able to break into the redzone, it was enough for Jack Howes to drill a 35-yard field goal to open the game’s scoring.
Michigan’s response came on the next possession, but it was then when the Wolverines leaned on its rushing attack to quickly take control of the game, scoring 16 points within a two-minute stretch.
After closing last week’s game with 32 consecutive runs to end the game, Michigan leaned on the strength of its offense as two-thirds of the Wolverines’ first-half plays were designed runs with Blake Corum benefitting. The veteran Michigan running back would give Maryland fits on the second drive with Corum tallying two rushes over ten yards en route to his first touchdown of the day to cap a nine-play drive. 19 seconds later, that lead grew after the Wolverines’ third-down pressure forced a strip sack before Michigan DE Derrick Moore returned it for a touchdown. Once it started, Maryland never found an answer to mitigate Michigan’s pressure as Taulia Tagovailoa struggled to find time to get to his reads. After the Wolverines went up 14-3, Maryland went three-and-out again before Brenden Segovia’s first punt was blocked, leading to a safety. Michigan then capitalized on the short field to turn a 16-play drive into Corum’s second touchdown of the day, extending Maryland’s deficit to 23-3 midway through the second quarter.
Middle eight shifts momentum back to Maryland
Maryland was able to slow the Wolverines’ momentum on a six-minute, 14-play drive that ended in Billy Edwards Jr. punching in a one-yard TD on the Terps’ version of the tush push.
Michigan would get the ball back with just under two minutes remaining in the half before a 26-yard strike to Tyler Morris pushed the Wolverines into Maryland territory. A fourth-down conversion would extend the drive before the Wolverines threatened inside the Maryland 10, but the first career interception by LB Jaishawn Barham with 11 seconds in the half would give the Terps life. The takeaway would loom larger once the second half began as a 34-yard catch by Kaden Prather took the Terps near midfield on the opening drive before Edwards Jr. punched in his second rushing touchdown on the day, once again on the tush push, and cutting the deficit to 23-17.
Maryland’s defense would stand tall once again, forcing a three-and-out, before the Wolverines reclaimed momentum after Taulia Tagovailoa threw an interception along the sideline midway through the third.
Passing attack leads Maryland in third quarter
Maryland outgained Michigan in the third quarter, 165-63, as Taulia’s 135 passing yards helped the Terps steadily chip away into the lead.
Taulia finished the day with 247 yards through the air, but the consistency through the third quarter helped the offense find its groove through its three primary receivers.
That began with a 34-yard completion to Kaden Prather, then a 13-yard reception by Tai Felton. Jeshaun Jones was able to keep the drive alive with a 17-yard reception before Michigan came away with the sideline interception. Michigan was able to turn the turnover into points, but Maryland answered right back as Taulia found Jones for 37 yards on a pair of catches before Kaden Prather reeled in a 34-yard catch along the sideline, setting Billy Edwards Jr up for his third rushing touchdown of the game and trimming the deficit to 29-24.
Maryland’s protection was under scrutiny on Saturday after giving up four sacks and six TFLs, but the 135 yards through the air helped give the Terps a pair of third-quarter touchdowns, marking the first points that Michigan has allowed in the third quarter all season.
Intentional grounding penalty proves dagger to Maryland’s comeback chances
After Kyle Long was called for a false start, Michigan brought the house to generate a third-down sack and force a punt deep in Maryland territory as the defense was then tasked with stopping Michigan on a shortened field, but once again, the defense stepped up with a three-and-out. Minutes later, Michigan would regain possession in Maryland territory before an offensive holding and Donnell Brown pass breakup gave the Terps’ defense another critical stop.
Michigan would win the field position battle, pinning Maryland at their own 1 with under five minutes left, but Taulia Tagovailoa was called for intentional grounding in the endzone just two plays later to put the final nail in the coffin.
Michigan would need the chains to come out to confirm a fourth-down conversion with under two minutes remaining to end the Terps’ comeback hopes.