College Football Corner: Back to back bowl berths for Maryland is big

Homecoming games in October bring back alumni, but also many of the ghosts from their college days.

For Maryland fans of a certain age, Terrapin football has been a revolving door of quarterbacks due to injury or ineffectiveness. That 23-38 demographic also recalls bad losses in October to underwhelming conference foes, with the Terps often beating themselves.

Maryland running back Roman Hemby runs for a touchdown against Northwestern in the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in College Park, Md. Maryland won 31-24. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)

But Saturday, when trailing by ten to a 1-5 Northwestern team, this squad purged some of those demons with a 16-play drive that covered 86 yards. And while they settled for a field goal, momentum was seized before they entered intermission. And once again the Terps won the second half, this time outscoring the Wildcats 21-7 to triumph 31-24.

“We don’t always make it easy on ourselves,” Coach Mike Locksley said. “But I’m proud of the way this team continues to show our culture and the ability to persevere.”

Instead of two anxiety-ridden weeks that has this team wondering if they are due for another mid to late-season swoon, Terp fans can plan on going somewhere for the holidays as the sixth victory punches their postseason ticket for a second straight fall.

“Something for our team to be really proud of, becoming bowl-eligible,” Locksley said. “This fan base should be really proud of being able to get that accomplished. What it does now is it earns us an opportunity every week to take the next step and the opportunities get better and better.”

Virginia (3-4, 1-3) saw quite a start in its game at Georgia Tech: the first four possessions between the two teams saw a three and out, a fumble, an interception and then a pick six followed by a missed extra point. But behind Brennan Armstrong, UVA rallied for a 16-9 win that was far from pretty, but was able to take the first step towards salvaging its season as well as doing its part to create Coastal Chaos.

Cavalier Congrats: Armstrong threw for 255 yards and a touchdown while running for 91 yards and the team’s other score. Dontayvion Wicks (four catches for 99 yards and a TD) AND Keytaon Thompson (7-89) accounted for 55% of the catches and 74% of the receiving yards. Nick Jackson tallied eight tackles plus two of the team’s eight sacks as the defense held the Yellow Jackets to 206 total yards and 6-21 on third down.

Cavalier Concerns: the offense converted just 2-14 third downs and turned the ball over four times, including the previously mentioned pick six. The running back rotation of Xavier Brown and Perris Jones gained less than three yards per carry. Kicker Will Bettridge missed field goal attempts of 29 and 39 yards while missing an extra point. The team committed ten penalties for 92 yards.

Next: Saturday in Charlottesville at 12:30 p.m. against 3-4 Miami. It’s the first of four straight games at Scott Stadium, and the Hurricanes are coming off of a loss where they turned the ball over eight times.

Navy (2-5, 2-3 AAC), after allowing touchdowns on Houston’s first two possessions of the day, rallied to make it a one-score game early in the second half. But a missed field goal, an interception and a failed fourth down on their next three drives sealed their fate in a 38-20 loss to the Cougars. Clayton Tune threw five touchdown passes for the visitors and one hopes he doesn’t have any more COVID/redshirt years in his pocket.

Midshipmen Medals: Daba Fofana rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown while the ground game gained 201 yards on the day. Eavan Gibbons tallied 12 tackles while the defense recovered three fumbles. Jiami Woodson-Brooks returned one of those for a touchdown to make it a one-score game. Riley Riethman averaged 47.5 yards per punt.

Midshipmen Miscues: the defense allowed 5.3 yards per carry and notched just one sack. Tai Lavatai tossed a pair of interceptions and was held to 30 yards rushing on 16 carries. Daniel Davis missed a pair of field goals.

Next: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Annapolis against 2-5 Temple. Has it really been six years since these two schools met in the AAC Championship Game?

Maryland (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) beat Northwestern 31-24 despite not having its best player-quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa available due to injury (it’s an aggravated MCL sprain). Behind backup Billy Edwards Jr., the Terps started slowly (14 yards gained on their first 12 plays) and trailed by ten in the second quarter before settling down by getting points on four of their next five possessions (the fifth was a missed field goal attempt). Bowl eligibility is a lot nicer to deal with than two weeks of anxiety.

Terrapin Triumphs: Roman Hemby rushed for three touchdowns, gaining 154 of his 179 yards rushing in the second half. Edwards threw for 166 yards and a score while running for 66 more (accounting for 27 lost on four sacks), and Rakim Jarrett was his top target (eight catches for 82 yards and the TD). Gereme Spraggins led the defense with eight tackles and that unit tallied two second half takeaways: Dante Trader Jr’s interception set up the game-tying touchdown while Beau Brade’s pick gave the Terps possession for their clock-killing drive.

Terrapin Troubles: the offense had a rough sequence in the fourth quarter as a 2nd & 1 from the NW five turned into a missed 46 yard field goal thanks to a botched snap (-8 yards) and a bad sack (-15). That would have made it a two-score game with just over six minutes left. The defense never seemed to have an answer for Evan Hull who rushed for 119 yards while catching four passes for 31 and a touchdown. Northwestern converted 9-14 third downs on the day. Penalties (eight for 80 yards) were a pest again as consecutive pass interference flags in the second quarter set up a Wildcats field goal.

Next: Nov. 5 at 4-4 Wisconsin. Closing Month begins against a program in transition.

James Madison (5-2, 3-2 Sun Belt) learned that life in the Sun Belt isn’t all roses in its second straight league loss. While it was the defense that was deficient in last week’s defeat at Georgia Southern (45 points coughed up), this time it was an offense handcuffed by the SBC’s best defense Marshall in a 26-12 loss to the Thundering Herd. As JMU enters a bye week, all eyes are on the injured shoulder of quarterback Todd Centeio: he was scratched from the lineup right before kickoff and, unfortunately, backup Billy Atkins (13-35 for 164 yards and 4 interceptions) didn’t have the day Billy Edwards Jr. did for Maryland.

Duke Do’s: Percy Agyei-Obese rushed for 96 yards despite being the team’s main offensive threat. The defense notched three takeaways and Taurus Jones paced the unit with 13 tackles. Sam Clark averaged 42.5 yards on 12-yes 12-punts.

Duke Don’ts: the offense allowed seven sacks, failed to convert a third down in 17 attempts, and turned the ball over five times. The fact that they were able to score 12 points was a victory in itself.

Next: Nov. 5 at 4-3 Louisville. That Top 25 ranking feels like so long ago.

Dave Preston

Dave has been in the D.C. area for 10 years and in addition to working at WTOP since 2002 has also been on the air at Westwood One/CBS Radio as well as Red Zebra Broadcasting (Redskins Network).

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