COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — On the first play from scrimmage, Taulia Tagovailoa found an open Jeshaun Jones for a 62-yard gain, and Maryland was off and running.
Tagovailoa threw for 352 yards and accounted for all six Maryland touchdowns, leading the Terrapins to a 44-17 rout of Indiana on Saturday and their first 5-0 start since 2001. Tai Felton caught seven passes for 134 yards and three first-half TDs for the Terrapins, who are 2-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since joining the league before the 2014 season.
“We talked earlier in the week about enjoying wins, and we’re going to enjoy this one,” Maryland coach Michael Locksley said. “So whatever questions you all ask me, I ain’t going down a negative rabbit hole with you all. We’re 5-0, 4-0 at home, 2-0 in the Big Ten, and I couldn’t be prouder of this team.”
Now the Terps face their first big test of the season when they play at No. 4 Ohio State next weekend.
Tagovailoa’s five touchdown passes were one shy of the school record, set by Frank Reich in his famous comeback victory over Miami in 1984.
The Terps didn’t score on every drive in the first half, but when they did it was quick. After Tagovailoa’s deep pass to start the game, his 13-yard TD toss to Felton capped a 25-second drive.
Later in the first quarter, Maryland started a drive on the Indiana 29 after the Hoosiers (2-3, 0-2) committed kick catch interference on a punt. The Terps needed one play to score when Felton was left open over the middle for his second touchdown catch, which made it 14-3.
After a nice punt return by Jones, Maryland started its next drive at the Indiana 21. The Terps needed two plays this time, with Tagovailoa scoring on a 19-yard run.
“Our defense put us in great position on the offensive side of the ball,” Locksley said. “We didn’t have the ball very much but we had short fields. We created explosive plays.”
Felton’s third TD of the half came on a 9-yard catch late in the second quarter. That drive lasted five plays, 50 yards and 26 seconds.
“Today is my mom’s birthday,” Felton said. “I know she’s very happy.”
It was 27-3 at halftime. Tagovailoa threw second-half touchdown passes of 3 yards to Dylan Wade and 14 yards to Kaden Prather.
Indiana quarterback Tayven Jackson threw for 113 yards with an interception. Brendan Sorsby relieved him and threw two touchdown passes in the final quarter.
“We have to evaluate everything and find a way to score points, but we also have to play better defense,” Hoosiers coach Tom Allen said. “The start of the game defensively was very poor and very frustrating. Too many explosive plays.”
Indiana: The Hoosiers were only on defense for 21:31, but that was mostly because Maryland scored so easily. Sorsby and Jackson are both redshirt freshmen, so it will be interesting to see who Indiana goes with in its next game.
“We needed a spark, we were looking for something. We have two quarterbacks who have proven they can play, so I felt like Brendan has earned the right to have that opportunity,” Allen said. “The bottom line is Brendan came in and made some plays, but they obviously had some guys subbed out as well.”
Maryland: The gap between the Terps and the Big Ten’s weaker teams seems to be growing. The question is whether they’re any closer to beating the truly elite teams in the league. Next weekend may answer that question.
“Ohio State didn’t come up one time this week,” Locksley said. “That shows the maturity, I think, of this team. … This was a great opportunity to create some momentum and have confidence going into a tough place to play against a really talented team. You know what? I think this team is just young and dumb enough to show up and play like they’re capable of playing, and we’ll see what happens.”
This is Maryland’s best start since the 2001 team won its first seven games. The Terps won the ACC that year under Ralph Friedgen. Locksley was a running backs coach at Maryland then.
Indiana: The Hoosiers are off next weekend before playing at No. 2 Michigan on Oct. 14.
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