COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland’s game against Ohio State was a constant tangle of hope and despair.
After the Buckeyes scored 17 straight points in the third quarter to erase Maryland’s 13-10 halftime lead, it seemed like the Terps were falling down a familiar path of disastrous losses to the Big Ten’s elite.
Maryland had other plans. Redshirt junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa provided two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put the Terps within striking distance of their biggest win in years, but his heroic effort was enough in a 43-30 loss to the No. 2 Buckeyes in the SECU- Stadium not off.
The Terps’ angry offer fell apart in the worst possible way. After the Buckeyes hit a 45-yard field goal to make it 36-30 with 42 seconds left, Tagovailoa had a chance to lead a season-defining touchdown drive. Instead, he was sacked twice by Ohio State defenseman Zach Harrison, with the second hit slamming the ball into linebacker Steele Chambers’ arms for a game-winning touchdown.
While the Buckeyes (11-0, 8-0 Big Ten) celebrated keeping their perfect season alive, Tagovailoa was down with an apparent injury before limping off the field.
Saturday saw two of the Big Ten’s best quarterbacks duel, and Tagovailoa surprisingly came out on top. He completed 26 of 36 passes for 293 yards and two touchdowns and ran for one goal, while Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, a Heisman Trophy favorite, completed 18-to-30 passes for 241 yards and one touchdown.
But the Buckeyes made enough games to hold off Maryland (6-5, 3-5), who had their first win over a top-two team since 1955 and their first win over a conference opponent since joining the Big Ten in 2014 aimed at Ohio State running back Dallan Hayden rushed for a season-high 146 yards and three touchdowns, including two in the second half, while wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. added six receptions for 82 yards.
While Maryland was held at 84 rushing yards, the Terps still managed to pass the Buckeyes 402-401. Maryland senior wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr. had his best game of the season, catching five passes for 67 yards.
In the first game of the afternoon, it looked like Ohio State was heading for another win in a one-sided streak. Stroud threw a 29-yard pass toward the touchline to Harrison, who grabbed a one-handed first down. Five plays later, Stroud felt pressure from Maryland defenseman Jakorian Bennett and threw a pass to running back TreVeyon Henderon, who pushed past the defense for a 31-yard touchdown to give the Buckeyes a 13:38 lead, 7-0 procure first quarter.
Maryland was unimpressed. Tagovailoa started a nine-game, 61-yard scoring drive by connecting with tight sophomore CJ Dippre, who rushed for 25 yards before taking a defender over the hurdle. After Tagovailoa was sacked 3rd and 4th at Ohio State’s 11-yard line, Chad Ryland kicked a 31-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
From that point on, the Maryland defense kicked in and held Ohio State to a 33-yard field goal early in the second quarter. After their first touchdown, the Buckeyes were forced to punt on three of their next four drives.
Maryland’s defense held off one of the best offensives in the country long enough for Tagovailoa and company to jump to the top. Tagovailoa faced a second and 8 and threw a 34-yard pass across the field to Demus. Wide receiver Rakim Jarrett made a 9-yard reception before Ohio State was called out for defensive pass interference and moved the terps to the Buckeyes’ 13-yard line.
Facing the third and goal in the second quarter with less than five minutes to go, Tagovailoa rolled to the left before throwing a touchdown pass to Dippre into the back of the end zone that turned a four-point deficit into a 13-10 – Advantage turned.
After two disappointing straight losses to Wisconsin and Penn State, Maryland suddenly led one of the best teams in the country.
The Terps forced another three-and-out with a 13-10 lead into the dressing room. After throwing under 100 yards in two straight games, Tagovailoa finished the first half 16-18 with 180 yards and a touchdown.
Tagovailoa continued to outplay Stroud in the second half. Trailing 27-13 early in the fourth quarter, Tagovailoa threw a 36-yard pass to second wide receiver Tai Felton and initiated a five-game scoring drive for 75 yards that scored with the Alabama transfer , which ended on a 5-yard keeper. Tagovailoa hit wide receiver Jacob Copeland in the end zone for the 2-point conversion to reduce the lead to 27-21.
Ohio State responded quickly, marching 53 yards in 1:17 when Hayden ran from 13 yards for his third touchdown of the game. The Buckeyes lined up to go in twos, but a game penalty delay pushed them back 5 yards and sent the kicking unit onto the field. Maryland cornerback Deonte Banks blocked the extra point attempt, and Bennett returned the ball to the end zone for two points to reduce Ohio State’s lead to 33-23.
Tagovailoa continued to give Maryland a chance, launching a 49-yard pass to Jarrett that put the terps on the Buckeyes’ 15. Maryland was stopped three times at the goal line, but Tagovailoa waved off the field goal unit. As the pocket collapsed in fourth and Tor collapsed, he scrambled to the right before throwing a touchdown pass to streaking wide receiver Jeshaun Jones to reduce the lead to 33-30 with a 9:49 lead.
As is often the case against the elite of the Big Ten, Maryland’s comeback bid would stop there.
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