It wasn’t a pretty start for the Maryland football team.
However, the Terrapins erased a 28-point deficit to win 46-41 and get their first Big Ten victory.
Maryland ran for 401 yards on the ground, including 173 from running back Brandon Ross. With the Terps trailing 41-39 with under five minutes to go, Ross broke an 80-yard touchdown run to put Maryland ahead for good.
Freshman Ty Johnson also had a pair of rushing touchdowns on his only two carries of the afternoon. He scored from 43 and 44 yards out for a Maryland team that played with quite a bit of swagger in the season finale.
“Early in the game, we were just missing on some big runs,” coach Mike Locksley said. “The big thing late was the threat of the pass. Caleb (Rowe) is a true gunslinger. When he’s on, he’s on.”
Rutgers did orchestrate a final drive, but had to convert a fourth-and-one in order to keep it going. However, linebacker Jermaine Carter and company made the stop on a running play by an inch or two.
“I hit him behind the line a little bit,” Carter said. “It was close, but at the end of the day, we got the stop and that’s all that matters.”
As impressive a comeback as it was, it wasn’t a pretty start for Maryland.
Rutgers took the ball down and scored on their first possession after Maryland failed to convert a fourth-and-one play. The Scarlet Knights got a six-yard touchdown pass from Chris Laviano to star wideout Leonte Carroo. The Scarlet Knights shredded the Terps on a six-play, 44-yard drive.
On the very next Maryland possession, the Terps couldn’t get anything going and quarterback Perry Hills was sacked on third down to force another punt.
After a Hills interception led to another Rutgers touchdown and a 17-0 deficit, coach Mike Locksley elected to make a change at the quarterback position.
Early in the second quarter, Caleb Rowe came into the game and provided a bit of a spark for the Terps.
On his first drive, Rowe completed four of his five passes for 56 yards. Maryland was unable to convert a third-and-four from the eight-yard line, but came away with three points on a 26-yard field goal from Adam Greene.
Rowe got the start last week against Indiana before exiting with a concussion. He finished completing 16-of-32 passes for 239 yards.
With Maryland starting to show some life, Rutgers sucked in right back out. Laviano orchestrated a six-play, 73-yard drive in 1:49 that ended with a touchdown catch from Janarion Grant in the corner of the end zone.
That play was made possible by a 50-yard completion to Carroo.
Maryland answered with a 77-yard drive of their own. Rowe started off the possession with a 34-yard pass to wideout DeAndre Lane to put the Terps into Scarlet Knight territory. On just the third play of the drive, Johnson took a read-option run 43 yards for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 24-10.
It was the second career rushing touchdown for the true freshman tailback.
After Rutgers answered courtesy of a Paul James rushing touchdown, Maryland thought they had a 23-yard touchdown catch from freshman D.J. Moore. However, the play was reviewed and it was determined that the ball was jarred loose.
Maryland ended up settling for another Greene field goal, this time from 25 yards out. The Terps trailed 31-13 to put the game at the 28-point halftime deficit.
On Rutgers’ first scrimmage play of the third quarter, Laviano was intercepted by cornerback Sean Davis on a throw in which Davis read perfectly.
Ross, who hadn’t had much success prior to that point, ran for a 16-yard touchdown to cut the Rutgers lead to 31-20. The run was Ross’ longest of the day and his eighth touchdown on the ground this season.
When the final whistle blew, Ross finished fourth on Maryland all-time rushing list.
After a fumbled snap put the Terps 19 yards from the sticks, Maryland faced a 3rd-and-14 that they desperately needed to convert. Rowe hung tough in the pocket and found wideout Jahrvis Davenport for the first down.
Davenport led Maryland with seven receptions for 87 yards on the afternoon.
However, the day continued to be about the running game. Rowe even was able to muster 98 yards on just seven carries for the Terps.
After Rowe ripped off an 18-yard run into Rutgers territory, Johnson made his mark on the game once again with a 44-yard touchdown run. Up to this point, the true freshman only had two carries and both went for touchdowns.
Just as the fourth quarter began, Maryland was threatening to find the end zone once again despite trailing 38-27. After a 22-yard scamper from Rowe, Ross was able to punch it in for his fifth touchdown in the last two games.
Maryland went for the two-point conversion, but Rowe was stopped at the one-yard line to keep the score at 38-33 with 14:23 left in the game.
On Maryland’s next drive, Rowe completed passes to DeAndre Lane and Davenport before fullback Kenneth Goins Jr. busted off a 42-yard touchdown run. It was the longest run of Goins’ career and the first rushing touchdown as well.
Maryland finishes the season with a 3-9 record and will look towards the future. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in terms of the head coaching position as the offseason goes on.