By Sean Mahoney
The University of Maryland football team desperately needed a win going into the second half of the season to keep their bowl chances alive, and that’s just what it did, taking down Indiana University in a back and forth game, 42-39.
“We just needed a win in a really bad way,” Head Coach D.J. Durkin said. The Terps did not disappoint in this game, it was back and forth throughout and came down to the final minute.
In what seemed like a game of quarters, Indiana came out firing on all cylinders in the first, scoring on two bombs from quarterback Peyton Ramsey. The Hoosiers tacked on a safety to end the quarter and momentum was against the Terps.
Momentum shifted halfway through the second quarter as Darnell Savage Jr. blocked a punt and took it back to the house, bringing the Terps within two points.
Quarterback Max Bortenschlager and star wideout D.J. Moore were on the same wavelength as they connected on many targets in the next two Maryland scoring drives. Bortenschlager found Moore on a two yard fade to the back left of the end zone to end the second half and give Maryland the lead.
“That guy [Moore] is unbelievable,” Durkin said. “He’s a warrior.”
This was a statement game for Moore, as he showed why he is considered as one of the best wideouts in the Big Ten by compiling 93 all-purpose yards and one touchdown.
He picked up an ankle injury in the third quarter on a punt return. The blow seemed to take the breath out of the stadium, but he got up under his own power and eventually returned to the game.
The third quarter was riddled with injuries on both sides, with Moore and Savage Jr. going down with leg injuries and Indiana quarterback Ramsey going down with an apparent leg injury.
Both Terps players returned but Ramsey sat out the rest of the game. Ramsey’s injury proved to be a huge turning point because he had led the Hoosiers to a 10-point lead at the end of the third and was having a career game with over 300 yards passing — a first for Ramsey against a Big Ten opponent.
Going into the fourth quarter, it was a game of inches and Maryland prevailed with short, but impactful plays. Running back Jake Funk made two one-yard touchdowns to put the Terps up by nine with 10 minutes to go.
The Hoosiers wouldn’t go away, though, as they drove down the field and scored off a five-yard strike to wide receiver Simmie Cobbs, Jr. Indiana backup quarterback Richard Lagow completed five of six passes on the drive, moving the offense with ease.
But down the stretch it was the little plays that made the difference, as key plays by the Terps on special teams made it really hard for the Hoosiers to make a comeback. The Maryland defense blocked an extra point attempt following an Indiana touchdown, keeping a three point lead — meaning a field goal could only tie.
When Maryland had to punt the ball back to the Hoosiers with two minutes left, Funk downed the punt on the one yard line. The Hoosiers needed to gain 99 yards to get to the end zone.
Despite a taunting call on linebacker Jermaine Carter, Jr. on a fourth down that would have ended the game, the Terps’ defense stopped Indiana in its tracks ending the game on a Savage Jr. tackle to turnover the ball on downs.
“The offense helped the defense out, the defense helped the offense out, and special teams made really big plays,” Durkin said. “It was just a full team game.”
The win stopped a three game losing streak for the Terps and solidified their chances to make a bowl game at the end of the season.
“The crowd was jumping up and down, it was an awesome feeling,” said Bortenschlager, who finished the day with 10-16 completions, 171 yards and two touchdowns. Bortenschlager said this seemed to be one of the bigger turnouts of the season being the homecoming game and it really seemed to pump the team up.
The Terps look to continue their winning streak as they head on the road to New Jersey to take on a struggling Rutgers team, which could be another step closer to bowl game eligibility.