August 17, 2019

Maryland Football: Terps play hard for Edsall early, but #1 Ohio State too much late

In what is quite possibly Randy Edsall‘s final game as Maryland’s head coach, it was business as usual for the 57 year old coach. He went through his usual routine of pumping up all players individually, which he said he would when he said he was completely focused on Ohio State (not reports). The Terps looked to have surprised the nation by keeping pace with Ohio State well into the second half, but in the end the defense was worn down and the offense just could not come up with one more big play when needed. Maryland fell 49-28 and now the decision of whether Randy Edsall is going to be fired and who would step in as interim head coach is to be decided during the bye week.

Things took a surprising start as the Terrapin defense sacked Cardale Jones on the second play of the game and then forced a three and out. After two conversions on third down, offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, a candidate for interim head coach, decided to open up the playbook for Perry Hills. Coming out of a timeout, Hills unloaded a bomb down the field that was hauled in by D.J. Moore who won off the line of scrimmage on a post route. Just four minutes in the game Maryland was up 7-0 on the #1 team in the country, but that would not last for long.

Ohio State featured all three quarterbacks, Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett, and Braxton Miller, on a 14 play 75 yard drive that ended in a touchdown. The key play was a poor coverage assignment by Sean Davis on a 3rd and 16 conversion for the Buckeyes. Just like that it was a tied game and Maryland would give the ball right back after just one first down.

On a poor re-punt after a questionable offsetting personal foul call for not giving the return man enough room to catch the ball, Jalen Marshal set up the Buckeyes at Maryland’s 40. After another personal foul call on Maryland, Ohio State was set up with a first and goal at the one a few plays later. After Terps stonewalled back to back running plays from the Buckeyes, Ezekiel Elliott finally broke through for a touchdown.

Even though the defense went on to force a three and out, the Maryland offense could do nothing around that as Hills was in a stretch of eight straight incompletions in which he was hurt by drops. Right when it looked like the Terps were going to force another three and out, Urban Meyer had a gutsy call to go for it on a 4th and less than a foot down from their own 29 yard line. Even after a timeout where it looked like the Buckeyes were trying to bluff their way into a first down via penalty, the Buckeyes stuck with it and just barely converted on a carry from Ezekiel Elliott. The drive ended in a success for Ohio State after Braxton Miller found holes in the zone coverage on back to back plays for 33 and 19 yards, the latter going for a touchdown.

After a clipping personal foul call derailed the Terps ensuing offensive possession after again just picking up a single first down, the defense was back on the field. CB Jarrett Ross was victimized on three straight plays as he missed two tackles on receiver Michael Thomas and gut trucked by quarterback Cardale Jones. Maryland would hang tough and force a field goal attempt following a Buckeyes holding penalty. As the Terps have learned time and again, they are lucky to have a kicker as good as Brad Craddock as Ohio State missed an opportunity to go up three possessions when Duke transfer Jack Willoughby missed a 44 yard field goal.

With just 72 seconds left in the half and a false start penalty on five star offensive lineman Damian Prince, it looked like the Terps would be content to go in at half down just 14. Then the C.J. Brown in Perry Hills seemed to show up as he decided to take off from the pocket. Hills gashed Ohio State for 75 yards right up the middle and would take it in for a three yard touchdown on the next play after just running out of gas on the previous play. Just like that Maryland had some semblance of hope as they would go into halftime down just 21-14 to the #1 team in the country.

After a nice kickoff return from Will Likely, Hills went back to work with three straight completions. Maryland was helped by a roughing the passer penalty, where the targeting was retracted so no ejection, on Joey Bosa. Locksley continued to pull out all the tricks as Maryland gained 17 yards on an end around play to D.J. Moore as well as a simple handoff to defensive stud Will Likely. Maryland would cap off the drive with another Hills rushing touchdown and Terps, 32 point underdogs, had the game tied in the second half.

Even though the defense worked their tail off to force another punt, a Maryland three and out gave Ohio State great field position already past midfield. Cardale Jones had all day to throw and launched a bomb to Jalin Marshal who found a hole in the zone for a walk in touchdown. Just like that Maryland was trailing again. Hills tried to will his team forward with a rushing first down but a holding penalty and sack ended all hopes of that drive.

Ezekiel Elliott began to exert his dominance on Maryland with three straight plays of double digit gains. Missed tackles and a facemask penalty prevented the defense from forcing a third down for Ohio State, but before long the Buckeyes were on the doorstep again. With a depleted defensive line, Maryland had no chance of keeping Ohio State out of the end zone.

Down 35-21, Hills did everything he could to get his team back into contention. After three rushes early in the drive for Hills, all for first downs, the Terps were rolling and in Ohio State territory. A third down sack put Maryland in a tough 4th and 8 position where they made the right decision to go for it. Perry Hills dropped back to pass but decided to take off when the pocket started to collapse and was able to pick up the first down. Then after another sack on 3rd down and another false start penalty, the Terps faced a 4th and 14 where Hills could not come up with another magical play.

After that Maryland got outplayed physically and the domino effect made things look ugly. After an Elliott touchdown, Hills threw interception on back to back drives when he felt he had nothing to lose although both were poor decisions. Ohio State converted the first turnover into a touchdown, but after a bad snap were forced to take on a big loss and turnover on downs with regards to the latter. Hills stayed in the game and broke C.J. Brown’s rushing record of 162 yards with a game high 170. The Terps would put one more touchdown on the board while Ohio State played prevent defense but in the end Maryland fell 49-28.

The focus will return to Randy Edsall’s job status. I personally thought the team played hard for their coach today and would enjoy to keep him on the sideline. There is little gained by firing Edsall midway through the season because it is unlikely they will be able to bring in a coach until well into the offseason. Either way the Terps will head into their bye with next to know chance of making a bowl game and will be lucky to finish the year with four or more wins.

After the game, Edsall left is press conference after being asked if his pregame ritual was any different. Edsall also mentioned that he has not talked to anybody from the universities administrative staff about his future, but plans on watching the game tape as he always does postgame.

While we wait, it looks like Dwayne Haskins is still rooting for Edsall.
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.

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