Maryland battled with second-ranked Ohio State for sixty minutes on Saturday, but in the end, it wasn’t enough as the Buckeyes pulled away with a 43-30 win. A last-second strip sack gave the Buckeyes one final touchdown to pad the score, but Maryland was within reach for much of the game as head coach Mike Locksley was pleased with his team’s efforts.
“Proud not because we’re close, that’s not how we approach this thing. I’m proud that we’re never satisfied with a loss obviously, but what you saw today is us go blow for blow with the team that I consider to be one of the best in the country,” Locksley said.
After struggling on the road over the last two weeks, quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa returned to his normal self on Saturday after finishing 26-of-36 for 293 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He did so by completing passes to nine different receivers as Dontay Demus led the team in both receptions (5) and yards (67) for the first time this season. Tagovailoa would exit the game on the second-to-last play in the game, but the Terps quarterback admitted he wasn’t too concerned.
“My knee is good. Obviously it’s been bothering me the whole season, but I think I just hit the ground real hard. I think it’s just a bad bruise,” Tagovailoa added. Despite the loss, Tagovailoa became Maryland’s all-time leader in passing yards. “It’s a blessing having my name put up there with a lot of great legend quarterbacks that came through here,” he said. “I always say this and I really do mean it, it’s just a testament to my teammates and the [offensive] line doing their job, the receivers being where they’re supposed to be at the right time at the right spots. I always get the credit for it, all the glory goes to God.”
Maryland entered the locker room with a three-point lead, but Ohio State blocked Maryland’s first punt of the third quarter to take command of the game. “Those things are huge, huge momentum plays,” Locksley added. “We didn’t get ourselves in the right protection there and it’s my job to make sure we get the right protection. I mean, we had a chance to continue to change the field position and to give them seven points like that. That hurt.”
The Buckeyes would do exactly that two plays later as Hayden found the endzone for one of three touchdowns on the day as the freshman added 146 yards on the ground, but the touchdown also marked the first of three consecutive scores as the Buckeyes reclaimed control. After scoring with just 16 seconds left to extend the deficit to 27-13, Maryland had their own response on a five-play, 75-yard drive ending with Tagovailoa’s five-yard rushing touchdown. Maryland leaned on its analytics and converted its two-point attempt thanks to a Jacob Copeland catch, making it 27-21 with nearly a full quarter left.
While Maryland impressed in the loss with five-star athlete Nyckoles Harbor and four-star TE/OLB Rico Walker along the sidelines, head coach Mike Locksley still saw his team go 0-3 against the Big Ten elite this season but the second narrow defeat when considering the week four game versus Michigan. Still, Locksley says his team “still got ways to go” as he talks about what’s needed to take the next step.
“As I told our team though, there’s a small margin of error between the great teams and the good teams in this league. For us to take that next step, we’ve gotta be able to take that step and that step is finding a way to win a game like this. Not be close, find a way to win. And we had opportunities today where if we make a play here or there, penalties on 3rd-and-2 where we give ’em first downs. Miscommunication on a couple [of] things where we gotta get off the field on defense and then on offense, you know, we had opportunities where we had minus yardage on P and 10 plays, which put us in second and long, third long. We don’t operate great in that situation, so just staying on track is what we need to do.”
“We’ve played two of the top teams in our league, Michigan and Ohio State. We fought both of ’em, you know, not into the close, but I like the way we competed. And so to me, the fact that we fought against those teams, the fact that this team understands the accountability of doing what I need to do to take the next step, I think we’ll be able to grow with that.”
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