COLLEGE PARK — The Maryland Terrapins’ outing against Michigan turned into another miserable experience for a fan base that has grown accustomed to watching ranked opponents visit College Park only to decimate the Terps. With the sixth-ranked Wolverines controlling the game from the start, finding slivers of optimism in this 59-18 dismantling requires a painstaking search.
Consider one of Maryland’s few positive moments: Taulia Tagovailoa, a young quarterback who has been more productive than his recent predecessors, broke the single-season school record for completions during this letdown loss. He did so on a pass for no gain, and on the next play he threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
The recurring trouble for the Terps emptied the student section by halftime while a strong contingent of Michigan fans crowding the stands behind the visiting sideline left pleased with their team’s dominant performance. The Wolverines (10-1, 7-1 Big Ten) squashed Maryland’s hope quickly and had a 31-3 lead midway through the third quarter.
“We got out-coached and outplayed,” said Michael Locksley, the Terps’ third-year head coach. “A lot of blame to be placed, and it starts with me.”
By the time the Terps (5-6, 2-6) faced that steep deficit, Tagovailoa had only 89 passing yards, even though he ultimately finished with 178 and accounted for both of his team’s touchdowns. Tagovailoa had one of his most inaccurate outings as a Terp, completing just 19 of 33 attempts and throwing that pick-six later in the third quarter. Maryland’s offense was just 3 for 14 on third downs, with Locksley attributing those woes to too many third-and-long situations. Seven of Maryland’s third-down failures came when the team needed seven or more yards to convert.
The Terps, in search of one more win to become eligible for a bowl game, have suffered losses against ranked conference opponents in three straight weeks, with this blow coming on senior day.
“We can’t hang our heads,” Locksley said. “We’ve got to flush this one pretty quickly, because we still have a lot to play for next week.”
The problems that have plagued the Terps this season emerged again inside the red zone. When Maryland faced a 14-0 deficit early in the second quarter and needed to keep the game from slipping out of reach, the offense made it to the 5-yard line but then committed three penalties that hindered its progress. Tagovailoa overthrew tight end Corey Dyches in the end zone twice before the team settled for a 31-yard field goal from Joseph Petrino, who missed his first attempt, from 48 yards, earlier in the game.
The defense responded with a fourth-down stop, but the trouble continued. Tagovailoa missed his receiver again on third down, and then Michigan’s Matt Torey blocked the Terps’ punt. The Wolverines capitalized with backup quarterback J.J. McCarthy throwing a touchdown pass to Mike Sainristil, who made a one-handed diving catch in the end zone. By halftime, Michigan had added to its lead with a field goal, giving the Terps a 24-3 deficit and the fan base the anguish of another unraveling against a top conference foe.
With the deficit already insurmountable, the Terps had a moment of promise not long after halftime when Jordan Mosley’s interception in the end zone appeared to halt a Michigan scoring drive. But Nick Cross’s holding penalty wiped out the turnover, and the Wolverines’ standout running back, Hassan Haskins, pushed into the end zone on the following play.
These familiar mistakes — eight penalties for a loss of 60 yards, two Michigan fumbles the Terps couldn’t recover and special teams blunders — hurt Maryland’s chances, but Locksley’s team was outclassed from the start.
The Wolverines’ receivers sliced through Maryland’s struggling secondary, and the Terps’ defense has now given up at least 275 passing yards in seven games this season. Michigan’s quarterbacks combined to throw for 352 yards and three touchdowns, led by starter Cade McNamara’s 259 yards on 21-of-28 passing with two scores.
“Throughout the whole week, the coaches do a great job, and we as players do a great job of breaking down the tape, knowing our opponent in and out,” sophomore linebacker Ruben Hyppolite II said. “But none of that is good if we are not focused or attentive when the time comes to make a play.”
Maryland didn’t score a touchdown until 4:51 remained in the third quarter, which is the longest it has taken the Terps to reach the end zone all season. Carlos Carriere, a senior wide receiver long buried on the depth chart, has emerged as a go-to option in the wake of injuries at that position, and he reeled in that 7-yard touchdown catch. The slight boost in morale that might have come from narrowing the gap to 31-10 evaporated when the Wolverines scored on the ensuing kickoff. On the return, Michigan’s Michael Barrett threw a lateral to A.J. Henning, who took it to the end zone.