COLLEGE PARK – The No. 21-ranked Michigan Wolverines scored 28 unanswered points in the opening half, which provided enough cushion to defeat the Maryland Terrapins, 38-10, in front of 44,325 at Capital One Field on Nov. 11.
For Maryland (4-5), the result is its fifth loss in its last six games.
Redshirt sophomore walk-on Ryan Brand started at quarterback for Maryland, becoming the team’s fourth different starter this season. Sophomore Max Bortenschlager, who started the past six games, was removed after an injury during the Terrapins’ 31-24 loss at Rutgers on Nov. 4 and was listed as a game-time decision before kickoff.
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 182 pounds, the Detroit, Mich. native struggled early against the second-best defense in the nation, going 7-for-19 for 24 yards and an interception in the first half. Maryland entered Michigan territory just once and missed a field goal as the Terps were shutout heading into halftime.
“There were some drives that we could have and should have finished,” Maryland Head Coach D.J. Durkin said. “And when you turn over the ball, it’s hard to win those games. We did do that at times and we have to score more points.”
Meanwhile, Michigan (8-2) methodically moved down the field, scoring on four of its first six drives of the game. Head Coach Jim Harbaugh commended the Wolverines’ play, calling it the team’s “best ball game, in all three phases.”
Fullback Henry Poggi and Chris Evans scored the Wolverines’ first two touchdowns while quarterback Brandon Peters focused on keeping drives alive with his passing and audibles at the line of scrimmage. Michigan finished with 212 yards of offense in the first half.
“The last two weeks, we still had an emphasis to throw the ball,” Peters said. “Last week (vs. Minnesota) obviously we didn’t need to throw the ball that much, our run game was really rolling. This week, they stopped our run a little early so we opened up the pass game.”
Maryland attempted to use gimmick plays to help the offense while keeping the visitors on guard. Wide receiver D.J. Moore and running back Jake Funk each completed a pass with Funk attempting a fake punt. However, the plays did not create improved scoring opportunities, as the Terps gained just three yards on the fake punt and turned the ball over on downs.
Maryland’s special teams, normally a constant source of positive contributions, made matters worse. The failed fake punt set up a 33-yard touchdown pass from Peters to tight end Zach Gentry. On Maryland’s following drive, Wade Lees’ punt was blocked and recovered by Michigan inside the 20-yard line.
Three plays later, Peters rolled to his right and found tight end Sean McKeon wide open in the endzone for Michigan’s fourth touchdown. Once the extra point was converted, the few Maryland fans still in the student section started heading to the exits.
“Let’s call it like it is: no disrespect to (Brand), but we started our fifth-string quarterback today against one of the best defenses in the country,” Durkin said. “There was a little tentativeness like, ‘can we really do this? Is this actually going to work?’”
Maryland tried to fight back in the third. Both Lorenzo Harrison, III and Ty Johnson began finding holes in the Michigan defense, combining for 148 of the team’s 180 rushing yards. The defense forced Michigan to punt on all three of its possessions in the third quarter. Lastly, Brand found former Suitland High School star Taivon Jacobs for a 10-yard touchdown, reducing Michigan’s lead to 18.
However, the mini-comeback quickly evaporated as Evans muscled his way through the middle of the Maryland defense to score a 17-yard touchdown run. Brand then threw his second interception with less than four minutes remaining, confirming Michigan’s win.
“I think we fought hard throughout the game,” Brand said. “Obviously, I want some plays back and we want some plays back, but as an overall outing, the offensive line did a hell of a job, the skill guys did a did a great job. Too bad we couldn’t take home the win and score more points.”
Looking ahead, the Terrapins must win their remaining two games, including their home finale against rivals Penn State on Nov. 25, to remain eligible for a bowl game.
Jacobs did not talk about the prospects of playing a bowl game, instead reiterating that Maryland needs to first find itself as a team before it thinks of moving forward.
“We just got to get back to basics,” Jacobs said. “Going to practice on Monday and just game planning to play better. Coming out early next game and executing better.”