Mary­land’s upset bid falls short in over­time

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

TERPS, Tyrrell Pi­grome’s roll­out pass was a lit­tle off-tar­get, too strong, too low and a few feet wide of fresh­man wide re­ceiver Je­shaun Jones, who had stopped in his route and was open in the end zone.

As the ball squirted away, Ohio State (10-1, 7-1) cel­e­brated its come-from-be­hind 52-51 vic­tory be­fore many of its fans in the an­nounced crowd of 38,177 at Mary­land Sta­dium that kept its hopes alive for a Big Ten East ti­tle go­ing into next Sat­ur­day’s game in Colum­bus against No. 3 Michi­gan.

“Ev­ery game is dif­fer­ent,” Canada said. “I made the de­ci­sion [to go for it] be­fore they scored. I sat with Pig and talked to him. We had two choices. Two 2-point plays, one we both liked. We called it. It was a lit­tle bit off.”

Asked about Canada’s de­ci­sion to go for the win, a very “re­lieved” Ohio State coach Ur­ban Meyer said, “I would have prob­a­bly done the same thing if I was that coach, the way they were gain­ing yards on us [535] and I’m re­lieved we won.”

Need­ing a vic­tory for the third straight week to be­come bowl-el­i­gi­ble, Mary­land (5-6, 3-5) lost its sec­ond straight down-tothe-wire game and will need to win at No. 14 Penn State to have a chance to ex­tend its sea­son.

The de­feat ru­ined an­other spec­tac­u­lar per­for­mance by red­shirt fresh­man run­ning back An­thony McFar­land Jr. A week af­ter rush­ing for 220 yards and a touch­down in a 2-point loss at In­di­ana, McFar­land ran for 298 yards — 6 short of ty­ing La­Mont Jor­dan’s school record — and two touch­downs.

The fi­nal play also over­shad­owed a strong, if er­ratic per­for­mance, by Pi­grome, who com­pleted just six of 13 passes for a ca­reer-high 191 yards but threw a 27-yard touch­down pass to Jones to put the Terps ahead 38-31 with 7:50 left and a 60-yard com­ple­tion to fresh­man re­ceiver Dar­ryl Jones to set up Fleet-Davis’ score.

Asked to de­scribe the emo­tions of a game that dur­ing which the Terps took an early 17-3 lead on touch­down runs of 81 and 75 yards by McFar­land, grad­u­ate line­backer Tre Wat­son didn’t hes­i­tate.

“To put it into words, we are dis­traught right now at this point,” Wat­son said. “There are no words that can rec­on­cile what hap­pened to us.” Said Hask­ins, “It’s just shock­ing still.” Com­ing in as 14-point un­der­dogs, the Terps ap­peared to be easy road fod­der for the Buck­eyes de­spite some of Ohio State’s own less-than-im­pres­sive per­for­mances of late, es­pe­cially on de­fense. Mary­land wasn’t lis­ten­ing. “Our men­tal­ity wasn’t to upset Ohio State, it was to beat Ohio State,” Wat­son said. “There was not a mo­ment in the game to­day where we didn’t ex­pect that we were go­ing to win. Down the last sec­ond, even then we thought we had a chance. Un­for­tu­nately we weren’t able to pull it out.”

Be­hind the play of Hask­ins, Ohio State cut it deficit to 24-17 by half­time. Yet ev­ery time the Buck­eyes seemed on the brink of tak­ing con­trol, they ei­ther made a mis­take or the Terps made a play to keep their lead, in­clud­ing a 34-yard pick-six by se­nior cor­ner­back Ra’Von Davis to start the sec­ond half.

Hask­ins and sopho­more run­ning back J.K. Dob­bins sparked Ohio State’s come­back. Hask­ins com­pleted 28 of 38 passes for 405 yards and three touch­downs to break Ohio State’s sin­gle-sea­son pass­ing yardage mark and tie the mark for most touch­down passes in a sea­son.

Dob­bins rushed 37 times for 203 yards and a touch­down.

Asked whether he ever lost faith, Hask­ins said: “No, I never lose that. God al­ways has a [plan]. Whether you win or lose, you have to re­main strong and do what we do as a group and as a team.”

The same might be said about Mary­land as well. Many fig­ured af­ter last week’s down-to-the-wire loss at In­di­ana, when Pi­grome’s fum­ble (af­ter an ap­par­ent face­mask penalty wasn’t called) would have been crush­ing for a team that once stood at 5-3 for the sea­son.

“I’m guess­ing that every­body that doesn’t sit in this room [the au­di­to­rium at the Gos­sett Team House that is used for team meet­ings and news con­fer­ences] didn’t give us a chance,” Canada said. “The sea­son was over last week. That’s what every­body thought. We were writ­ten off. And these guys bounced back and played a tremen­dous game against a highly ranked op­po­nent. Played very, very well.

“They de­serve a lot of credit for that. They de­serve all the credit for stick­ing to­gether, for be­liev­ing in each other and for play­ing as hard as they pos­si­bly could play. Ob­vi­ously I wished they would have been able to win for them. They de­served it. But again, you got to [make] one more play. You're not dis­re­spect­ing any­body. You played Ohio State. They won the game. They made one more play than we did. Our play­ers are spe­cial and I’m really, really proud to be around them.”

The Terps still have one more chance at be­com­ing bowl-el­i­gi­ble, against a Penn State team that has not looked all that im­pres­sive of late, in­clud­ing a 20-7 win Sat­ur­day over Rut­gers.

Asked whether it will be dif­fi­cult to re­cover emo­tion­ally from a po­ten­tially dev­as­tat­ing loss, Canada smiled.

“It won’t be hard at all,” he said. “Our guys will be fine. To­mor­row will be hard. We’ll watch it [a re­play of the game]. There will be a play — should have made this play, could have made this play. Throw it away here, make this tackle.

“We’ll coach it, we’ll talk [about it] and we’ll get up and come in on Mon­day, get a plan to­gether and they’ll go to work. I have no doubt that we’ll back and play really hard next week. That’s who we are.”

The cyn­ics might ask where was this of­fense for most of the sea­son, es­pe­cially against up­perech­e­lon teams. While some might won­der what took so long for in­terim coach Matt Canada to go to red­shirt sopho­more quar­ter­back Tyrrell Pi­grome — he started be­cause red­shirt fresh­man Kasim Hill suf­fered a torn ACL last week — the spec­tac­u­lar per­for­mance by red­shirt fresh­man An­thony McFar­land Jr. and fresh­man wide re­ceivers Je­shaun Jones and Dar­ryl Jones should make Mary­land fans hope­ful that all is not lost for next sea­son.

Ob­vi­ously, the odd­s­mak­ers knew some­thing. They had the Ohio State Buck­eyes as a sur­pris­ingly thin 14-point fa­vorite, and they would have lost this game if Tyrrell Pi­grome had been able to com­plete one last short pass in over­time. The 2-point con­ver­sion at­tempt failed and the Terps missed a chance to pull a huge upset and be­come bowl-el­i­gi­ble.

It was a heart-break­ing loss af­ter Mary­land con­verted big play af­ter big play, but it was a wildly ex­cit­ing way to close out a tu­mul­tuous sea­son in Col­lege Park.

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