July 10, 2020

Maryland Football: Rowe plays great for a benched Hills and Terps D comes through in second half to beat Rutgers

After an embarrassing loss in the regular season last year against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, the Maryland Terrapins were able to put some sort of a positive spin on in otherwise dismal season. Without their best player on all sides of the ball in Will Likely, but with their starting quarterback Perry Hills, the Terps were looking for a big win to help them in the recruiting race for years to come.

In a comeback eerily similar to last year but in reverse, the Terps were victorious, 46-41, behind a great performance from backup quarterback Caleb Rowe and strong defense in the second half.

Brandon Ross‘ 80-yard touchdown run with 4:40 left provided the lead, then the much-maligned defense held Rutgers on fourth-and-1 at Maryland’s 38. After Rowe busted a 36-yard run on third down, all the Terps had to do was kneel for their first conference win of the season.

Ross moved into fourth place in Maryland history with 2,542 career rushing yards.

Three plays after Maryland gained a first down on the opening play from scrimmage, Mike Locksley decided to roll the dice on a 4th and 1 play from the Terps own 44. Hills had tight end Derrick Hayward open for the conversion, but a drop ended the Terps drive in a turnover. Rutgers cashed in on the early Maryland miscue with a touchdown to Leonte Carroo, who also had a big gainer of 22 yards two plays prior to the score.

Following three-and-outs from both sides, another Maryland drive came to an end when Brandon Ross was blown up behind the line of scrimmage for a loss on third down, thanks to a miscommunication on the offensive line. A couple of nice catches and runs for Rutgers for chunk gains got them into Maryland territory before their drive stalled thanks to an offensive holding penalty. The Scarlet Knights still cashed in with a field goal to go up 10-0 minutes into the second quarter.

Things got worse for the stagnant Terps offense, as Hills threw the school’s FBS leading 29th interception of the year as his pass attempt bounced off of Amba Etta-Tawo. Carroo had another big gainers, then Chris Laviano threw for his second touchdown of the game to put Rutgers up 17-0.

Locksley had the quick trigger on Hills as he was replaced by Caleb Rowe, coming off of a concussion, for the next offensive series. Rowe had three passes for double-digit yard gains and was able to move the offense until the Terps drive stalled on a third-and-4 from the Rutgers 8. Maryland cut it to a 17-3 deficit, knowing that they needed to come away with a touchdown.

Rutgers QB Laviano looked to be on pace for a career day with Carroo as he burned Sean Davis on a stop-and-go route for a 50 yard gainer down the left sidelines. Two plays later, Laviano tied his career-high three passing touchdowns in a game in the first half against a putrid Terps secondary. Maryland looked to be down and out against Rutgers down three touchdowns, but Caleb Rowe started dissecting the Rutgers defense with big plays. Two plays after Rowe hit DeAndre Lane with a dart over the middle for a 34-yard gain, Rowe pitched to freshman back Ty Johnson on a speed option before the Baltimore native hit pay dirt from 43 yards out.

(Photo by: @RFootball)

(Photo by: @RFootball)

Rutgers came right back to Carroo who snagged a pass with just his left hand for a 24-yard gain to start the drive; by the end of the first half alone Carroo had racked up 132 yards through the air. Then Maryland would have it run right down their throats on seven straight plays and between Paul James and Robert Martin, Rutgers put up their fourth touchdown of the game behind power football.

The Terps hoped to get something to feel good about before the end of the half and Rowe started the drive with three straight completions for big gains. Maryland converted on a fourth-and-3 with an out route to freshman Jahrvis Davenport. But after the Terps had two touchdowns overturned on review and by penalty, the drive stalled and Locksley opted to kick the field goal instead of going for it on fourth-and-7. The halftime score would hold with Rutgers up 31-13.

The up-and-down season for senior defensive back Sean Davis continued on the first play of the second half, this time with an interception by jumping the route on a poorly located throw. On a third-and-10 play with the fear of going three-and-out following a turnover, Rowe scrambled for 20 yards into the red zone to convert. On what had been a bad game for Ross, the senior running back had great individual effort to get away from two tacklers and find the end zone from 16 yards out to cut the Terps deficit to 31-20.

After Rutgers scored on five of their six drives in the first half, the Terps defense came alive with their third straight stop, forcing back-to-back punts for the first time in the game. Rowe converted on a third-and-16 over the middle to Davenport again for a big 24-yard gain to keep the drive going. Even after converting one more third down, Maryland’s luck ran out on their third third down attempt. All of the effort on that drive would have nothing to show for it as Adam Greene missed a 29-yard field goal from the left hash wide right. As discussed at the end of the Rutgers preview, the absence of Lou Groza award winner Brad Craddock (wrist) played a role.

Maryland’s offense broke through on a second chance from their defense. After Rowe kept it on an option play for 18 yards, the Terps went no huddle and Rutgers was not ready for the next play. Ty Johnson thanked them for that as he just busted up the middle for a 44-yard house call, his second of the day, to bring Maryland within four down 31-27.

Rutgers got a touchdown on their next drive after Carroo was able to adjust to an underthrown ball better than Will Likely’s replacement, Darnell Savage. On top of that, Maryland was penalized with a weak roughing the passer penalty to get it to the edge of the red zone. Maryland gave up a conversion on third-and-8 on a busted coverage that sealed the Terps fate on the drive. Headed to the final quarter, the Scarlet Knights led 38-27.

(Photo by: Chester Lam/ The Diamondback)

(Photo by: Chester Lam/ The Diamondback)

Rowe continued to target his favorite receiver, Davenport, who had back-to-back first downs to add onto his career receiving day. One more time Rowe burned the Rutgers defense by keeping it on the speed option as the Scarlet Knights were not respecting his legs. Two plays later, Ross — in his last game as a Terp — rumbled in for a touchdown that drew the Terps within five at 38-33 after they failed on a two-point conversion.

Even after giving up a conversion to Carroo on third-and-11, the Terps defense forced their fourth punt of the half to get the ball right back to the offense. Rowe continued to be able to gain yards on the ground because the Rutgers defense did not respect him as a runner. Faced with a huge third-and-1, Locksley rolled the dice with a handoff to fullback Kenneth Goins, a play that had not been too kind for the Terps lately. However, this time the line carved out a huge hole for Goins and he rumbled down the field for a 42-yard touchdown run. The Terps failed again on a two-point conversion, but had their first lead of the game at 39-38.

Ross was going to have none of a possible Rutgers victory in his last game as a Terp, as his 80-yard run on the first play from scrimmage gave Maryland back the lead. The counter play resulted in the Terps fourth rushing touchdown of 40 or more yards on the day.

With 4:40 left in the game, Rutgers had plenty of time to move the ball and they had drove all the way to the Terps 34. However on back-to-back plays, the Terps defense did not give up an inch and forced a turnover on downs thanks to half of an inch. A Caleb Rowe keeper on third down sealed things for the Terps victory 46-41. Maryland will keep Bob Ward’s 1967 season of a winless conference season at bay and head into the offseason with a coaching search on a bit of a positive note.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.


  1. […] Locksley finished the season 1-5 with the lone victory coming in the season finale against Rutgers. On Wednesday afternoon, Sports Illustrated was the first of many to hear from a source that […]

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