By Jack Rothenberg
An MIA was put out for any offense in the first half on senior day when the Maryland Terrapins battled the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in what would become a back and forth contest before falling 27-24 in overtime. The opening half featured a total of 12 punts and three points but following a quarterback change for Maryland and an injury at quarterback for the Scarlet Knights, the offense picked up in the second half. Less than an hour before kickoff Maryland announced that five players were out including sophomore quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, junior linebacker Chance Campbell, and freshman linebacker Ruben Hyppolite. As a result, redshirt freshman quarterback Lance LeGandre got the first start of his career, although it didn’t last long.
After an ugly first quarter and an equally ugly start to the second, head coach Mike Locksley tried to provide the offense with a spark by putting in third string sophomore quarterback Eric Najarian. Najarian needed some time to adjust to the speed of the game but he finally got the offense moving near the end of the first half moving the team into scoring position while executing the two-minute drill. Najarian took a shot at the end zone spotting junior wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr. wide open but he dropped a very catchable ball. The Terps would settle for a field goal and take a 3-0 going into halftime.
Najarian discussed what it was like seeing his first real game action of his career after the game. “It’s cool to get out there finally, but at the same time it’s kind of what you go out and do everyday…when I look back at it, it’ll definitely be something that’s cool.”
After combining for 12 first half punts and only three points, the teams flipped the script in the second with only five punts and 45 points. After Maryland went three and out in its first possession of the third quarter, Rutgers put together a four play 84 yard drive with the resulting touchdown giving the visitors their first lead of the day with 11:07 to play in the third. The teams traded scores and
with just under six minutes left in the game Maryland re-captured the lead at 24-21, as Najarian connected with junior wide receiver Braian Cobbs who escaped a tackle and scampered for a 52 yard score. Two possessions later, on the final play of regulation, Rutgers kicker Valentino Ambrosio made the tying field goal from 42 yards and sent the contest into overtime.
The Scarlet Knights had the first possession of the extra period, which yielded another Ambrosio field goal. Maryland had a chance to match, but their 12th penalty of the game forced the Terps to attempt a 50 yard attempt that hooked wide left. Maryland fell to Rutgers 27-24. “We had the chance to finish the game on offense, we didn’t. We had a chance to finish the game on defense, we didn’t. We had a chance to extend the game on special teams and we didn’t so it was a collective loss for our team,” Locksley said.
“I thought [Najarian] played very well. I mean he got thrown into the fire and he responded, and that’s all [we could’ve] asked,” senior running back Jake Funk said when asked what he thought about Najarian’s performance against the Scarlet Knights.
While it wasn’t the outcome the team wanted, especially for the seniors, Funk went out in what could have been his last game at home and played phenomenally. He rushed for 180 yards and a touchdown in only three quarters due to a shoulder sprain that sidelined him for the final quarter and overtime. Now Maryland will await for the Big Ten to announce who their opponent will be for next weekend. It will most likely be a team from the Big Ten West, barring any COVID-19 issues.
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