December 7, 2019

Maryland Football: Terps top South Florida again in mistake filled afternoon

After an extremely disappointing loss for the Maryland Terrapins against MAC power Bowling Green last week, Randy Edsall make the big decision earlier in the week to name Caleb Rowe the starting quarterback today against South Florida. Although Rowe was far from perfect, Maryland’s offense flow was much stronger compared to Perry Hills‘. The Terps got back in the win column with a 35-17 victory over the University of South Florida to complete the home-and-away series that began last year.

Things were far from pretty in the early going for the Terps. After the defense forced a three-and-out after the opening kickoff to South Florida, Rowe was picked off on his second pass attempt of the game on an overthrown ball over the middle of the field. This coming after Rowe threw two interception in four attempts last week had a lot of Maryland fans leaving the student section earlier than usual. There seemed like a chance that backup quarterback and Oklahoma State transfer Daxx Garman might see action early. There was not much the defense could do having only four yards to defend and South Florida was up 7-0 just two minutes into the game.

Rowe responded positively for the Terps as he led a touchdown drive to tie the game up the following series. The redshirt junior had two throws of double digit gains as the Terps converted in the redzone and took advantage of the field position allowed by South Florida kicking away from Will Likely.

After three stalled drives from both teams combined, Maryland ended the first quarter in a big way. On a third and nine, Rowe finally had a decent pocket to survey the field and delivered a strike to receiver Taivon Jacobs. Jacobs was led perfectly away from the defense and then used his speed to produce a 70 yard house call as time expired. Maryland would not trail for the rest of the game in a similar fashion to the season opener against Richmond.

The second quarter started with interceptions by both teams on back to back possessions. Sean Davis, who was burned constantly last week by Bowling Green, began his redemption with his first of two interceptions. Rowe, who would go on to throw a third later, gave the ball right back to South Florida with his second pick which resulted in the ejection of running back Wes Brown who was called for targeting when covering the return.

After a field goal by USF that cut the Maryland lead to 14-10, the Terps had their sights on a score with a minute to go in the half. The key play was a 49 yard catch and run by Levern Jacobs to set the Terps up in the redzone for the second time in the game. Three plays later on what looked like a botched pitch from Rowe who was feeling the pressure, running back Brandon Ross wisely picked up the ball on the ground and took it in to the end zone to give Maryland a 21-10 lead at half.

After great field position for the Terps on a return by freshman running back Ty Johnson, Rowe converted in the red zone again with a touchdown strike to the big body target of tight end Avery Edwards. Red zone efficiency was one of the many positive benefactors of Edsall making the move to the more experienced quarterback earlier this week and it paid off today.

Back to back sacks from the strong Maryland defensive front, who totaled six on the day, gave the ball back to the offense on downs. But much of what had already happened previously in the turnover filled game, Rowe gave the ball right back with a lapse in judgement that resulted in his third interception. Such would prove to be costly as the Bulls took the ball in for a touchdown on a length 17 play 69 yard drive to cut the Maryland lead to 11 points again.

When USF got the ball back with almost 14 minutes remaining in the game, Randy Edsall had to be a bit nervous. Surprisingly, South Florida brought in their backup quarterback Steven Bench into the game who the Terps faced off against last year. Whatever the reasoning for taking starter Quinton Flowers was simply the wrong one. After converting on an earlier third down due to a Maryland penalty, Bench was faced with another third down where Sean Davis made a great play on the ball. The converted safety came down with his second pick of the game in a complete reversal of his performance last week. USF might not have come all the way back, but after Rowe put another touchdown (again to Edwards) on the board following the Davis pick it was over for sure.

Although the offense was a vast improvement, the team still has much to improve before going into the hostile West Virginia environment. If they hope to avenge their last second field goal loss at the hand of the Mountaineers last season, Rowe can neither throw three interceptions nor can the team commit 11 penalties for 105 yards. For now, the Terps still have bowl aspirations and Rowe will almost surely be the man under center for the Terps as they get ready for their first road game of 2015.

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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