javon leake

October 19, 2019: Maryland Javon Leake (20) tries to avoid Indiana Juwan Burgess (5) tackle during Big Ten football action between University of Indiana and University of Maryland in College Park, MD. Photos by Chris Thompkins/Prince Georges Sentinel

COLLEGE PARK – Last year against Indiana, Tyrrell Pigrome had a chance to lead a game-winning drive before being sacked and stripped of the ball with 52 seconds left.

Almost one year later, Pigrome had another potential game-winning drive against Indiana end in gut-wrenching fashion.

Facing a first-and-10 at the Hoosiers’ 42-yard line and trailing 34-28 on Oct. 19, Pigrome threw a deep pass over the middle of the field intended for Sean Savoy. The pass sailed over Savoy’s head and into the hands of Indiana’s Reese Taylor for the interception.

For the second-straight year, the Terps would fall just short against the Hoosiers in a 34-28 defeat.

“They were playing three-deep safeties and when the No. 3 receiver carried both safeties over, I tried to fit it over the linebacker,” Pigrome said. “And the (back-side) safety made a play.”

Pigrome’s turnover was the second in as many drives for Maryland (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten), squandering two opportunities to take the lead. With a first-and-10 on its 18-yard line trailing 31-28 with 3:57 remaining, Javon Leake caught a screen pass but had the ball punched out by Juwan Burgess. The Terps would hold Indiana to a 34-yard field goal to push the lead to 34-28.

“Good teams don’t beat themselves,” Maryland Head Coach Mike Locksley said. “And we continued to do it.”

The two final turnovers ruined a gutsy performance by Maryland’s offense, which has been plagued by injury in recent weeks. Pigrome started his second straight game at quarterback in place of Josh Jackson, who sprained his right ankle against Rutgers. He finished 17 of 27 for 210 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Leake shined with 158 yards and two touchdowns in place of Anthony McFarland (DeMatha Catholic), who was unable to play due to a high-ankle sprain.

On defense, Maryland lost starting cornerback Tino Ellis (DeMatha Catholic) to a season-ending upper-body injury last week against Purdue, depleting a defense that lost projected starting edge rusher Durell Nchami (Paint Branch) and safety Antwaine Richardson before the season.

Maryland started two freshmen in the secondary and got younger after senior linebacker Isaiah Davis’ ejection for targeting in the first quarter. Sophomore Chance Campbell stepped up in Davis’s place to finish with 10 tackles.

Indiana (5-2, 2-2) went 69 yards in five plays on its opening drive and then went 75 yards in eight for another touchdown. Maryland sandwiched a 75-yard touchdown drive in between the two Hoosiers scores, helped by three Indiana penalties for 40 yards to tie the game at 7.

The Terps depleted defense struggled for the second straight week, allowing 520 yards to Indiana after giving up 547 to Purdue.

After stuffing Pigrome on fourth-and-1 at midfield, the Hoosiers were driving again until defensive back Antoine Brooks Jr. (DuVal) intercepted a pass that bounced off tight end Peyton Hendershot’s hands. Maryland capitalized on the turnover, with Leake running 60 yards for a game-tying touchdown.

Maryland took its only lead with 4:09 remaining in the second quarter when Dontay Demus (DeMatha Catholic) caught a 15-yard touchdown in the left corner of the end zone for a 21-17 advantage. Earlier in the drive, Demus helped set up the touchdown with a 40-yard catch and run.

That lead would not last. Indiana wide receiver Nick Westbrook made a diving catch in the left corner of the end zone with 24 seconds remaining to give the Hoosiers a 24-21 halftime lead.

The Hoosiers extended the lead to 31-21 with 2:32 remaining in the third quarter when Stevie Scott ran for a 3-yard touchdown. That was the last touchdown Maryland’s defense allowed in the second half, as it made key stops to keep the Terps in the game.

“We just had to not look at the scoreboard and just keep going,” Brooks said. “Not look at the scoreboard and how much we’re losing by, just keep playing football.”

Maryland answered back once again on the next drive, with a 21-yard catch and run by Demus on 3rd-and-17 and a 52-yard catch and run by Tyler Mabry setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Leake.

After blowout wins over Syracuse and Howard to start the season, the Terps have sputtered and lost four of their last five games. The final stretch of the 2019 season does not get any easier, as Maryland will face No. 20 Minnesota, No. 16 Michigan and No. 4 Ohio State the next three weeks.

“We’re taking steps forward, but ultimately we have to win ball games,” Locksley said. “Nobody cares about injuries. Nobody cares about how young the guys that are out there are playing…As a coaching staff, we have to get these guys to play at the level they need to play, especially like in critical situations we had at the end to come away with wins.”

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