Maryland Starts Big, Falls Flat on Senior Day

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – It’s been a long, tough season for Maryland Terrapins football. Randy Edsall failed to make it through his fifth season as head coach; he was fired after Maryland’s 49-28 loss at Ohio State on October 10, and was replaced by Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Mike Locksley. However, that hasn’t helped matters much.

Maryland came into its Senior Day game against Indiana at Byrd Stadium on a seven-game losing streak. Quarterback play, protecting the football and penalties have plagued the Terrapins all season long. Meanwhile, Indiana was coming off a 48-41 double-overtime loss to number 14 (College Football Playoff rankings) Michigan. Earlier in November, the Hoosiers gave a scare to ninth-ranked Iowa before ultimately falling to the Big Ten West-leading Hawkeyes, 35-27 on Nov. 7. In October, Indiana gave top-ranked Ohio State everything it could handle before ultimately falling to the Buckeyes, 34-27 on Oct. 3. Both teams came in winless in conference play.

Before the game, Maryland honored its 15 senior players on the field in a pregame ceremony. The players posed for pictures with coaches before joining their families and framed jerseys. Locksley said he and his players really wanted to win this game for the seniors.

“I want to thank our seniors for the great leadership they’ve provided us here the past six weeks or through the past four or five years. These guys have had some tremendous times here. They’ve done some really good things. Obviously, we’re finishing this thing up, we’re struggling a little bit, but these guys continue to be great leaders for us,” Locksley said.

Indiana got the ball first after Maryland won the toss and deferred its option to the second half. Hoosiers quarterback Nate Sudfeld connected with wide receiver Mitchell Paige for a 34-yard pass to the Maryland 19. Running back Devine Redding ran for 13 yards to give Indiana a first-and-goal at the Maryland 6, but Maryland’s defense stiffened and forced Indiana to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Griffin Oakes with 11:24 left in the first quarter. When Maryland got the ball for its first possession, the Terrapins wasted no time in answering.

On Maryland’s second play from scrimmage, senior running back Brandon Ross broke free for a 79-yard touchdown run to give the Terrapins the lead. Adam Greene, filling in for the reliable but injured Brad Craddock, knocked in the extra point off the right upright to give Maryland a 7-3 lead just 50 seconds after getting the ball. The run was the longest of Ross’ career. Ross wasn’t done yet in the first quarter. After forcing a punt, Maryland started on its own 13. After driving up to Indiana’s 22, Ross finished the drive with another touchdown run to give the Terrapins a 14-3 lead with 7:10 left in the first. Ross’ second touchdown run capped a nine-play, 87-yard drive that covered two minutes and 15 seconds. Maryland’s defense then started to force the issue.

Defensive end Yannick Ngakoue sacked Sudfeld and forced a fumble that was recovered by Quinton Jefferson at the Indiana 20. That gave Ngakoue 13.5 sacks on the season, making him Maryland’s all-time single-season leader in sacks. Four plays later, Rowe found receiver Malcolm Culmer for a 14-yard touchdown that gave Maryland a 21-3 lead with five and a half minutes left in the opening quarter. Sudfeld finally did get into a rhythm, connecting on four straight passes, including a 19-yard touchdown pass to Paige to pull the Hoosiers back to within 21-10 with a minute and a half left in the first quarter. He then hit Andre Booker for a 59-yard touchdown that cut Maryland’s lead to four just under a minute into the second quarter. The Hoosiers recovered an onside kick, and eight plays later, Sudfeld leaped over the pile from just outside the goal line to give Indiana a 24-21 lead. The Hoosiers stretched the lead to six with eight minutes left in the first half after being forced to settle for another short field goal after driving inside the Maryland 10. Indiana led 30-21 at halftime. Coach Locksley described how Sudfeld hit some big passes in the second quarter, and Indiana took advantage of Maryland’s man-to-man coverage to pick up chunks of yardage to get back into the game.

“Got to give Indiana credit; this is a team that fought back from a first-quarter deficit, and continued to play. Hats off to those guys and their coaching staff for finding a way to get it done,” Locksley said.

“I couldn’t have done it without my coaches and my teammates, and it’ll be a great thing to look back down the road,” said Ngakoue, who is now three and a half sacks away from setting the school’s all-time career sack record of 25 by Andre Monroe. Ngakoue also passed Shawne Merriman for eighth in career tackles for loss with 33. He said Indiana was able to come back by taking advantage of the defense’s mistakes, and not allowing much pressure to get to Sudfeld.

Shane Cockerille replaced Rowe to start the second half after Rowe suffered a concussion late in the first half. Cockerille was stopped for no gain on the first play of the second half, but Ross got loose for his third big play of the game. He took a draw to the right, turned the corner, tip-toed the Maryland sideline and took off for a 75-yard touchdown run to pull the Terps to within two. However, after Greene’s onside kick went out of bounds to give Indiana the ball at the Maryland 44-yard line, and the defense wasn’t able to make a stop. Sudfeld hit Paige with a six-yard pass for a second touchdown to re-establish Indiana’s nine-point lead less than two minutes into the second half. Indiana didn’t let up after another penalty on special teams. Sudfeld hit Simmie Cobbs, Jr. on a crossing route; two Maryland players ran into each other on the play, and that allowed Cobbs to get all the way down to the Terrapins four-yard line before he was pushed out of bounds. Two plays later, tight end Michael caught a three-yard touchdown pass to extend the Hoosier lead to 44-28 with just under 10 minutes left in the third quarter. The quarter ended with Indiana leading 47-28, and that would prove to be the final score as the Hoosiers won their first conference game. Sudfeld finished with 385 yards and four touchdowns passing. Maryland will close out the regular season over Thanksgiving weekend at Rutgers on Nov. 28.

Ross became the first player in the history of Maryland football to run for at least 250 yards and three touchdowns in the same game. He’s now ninth on the team’s all-time rushing list with 2,375 yards in his career, and says he saw a lot of room to run.

“I just saw huge holes, that’s it,” said Ross. “I have to give a lot of credit to the (offensive) line, of course. I was just following their blocks.” Ross said, describing how he followed Culmer’s block on his third-quarter touchdown run. He says his first touchdown run gave him a lot of momentum to start his final game at Byrd Stadium.

Senior Will Likely, who’s a candidate for several awards, started at wide receiver, in addition to cornerback and returning kicks. However, he was also knocked out with an injury late in the third quarter. Locksley described how injuries played into the decision to start Likely at receiver.

“Going into the game this week, as we prepared on Sunday, DeAndre Lane, who had been our starter as the inside receiver, was ruled out. He had a mid-foot injury from the Michigan State game. Levern Jacobs has been nursing a hamstring for the last two, three weeks, along with a knee injury, and we’re just out of bodies. And so we made the decision to start Will on the offensive side of the ball and play both sides for us. It wasn’t a package; I mean he practiced on the offensive side of the ball primarily all week,” Locksley said. “We did that in order to get a really good player on the field to help us try to win a ball game, especially knowing that Perry (Hills) was going to be out of the game with mono. We knew we would have to throw the ball to try to win against this team because of how they structure themselves defensively.”

In the wake of the terrorist attacks in France, security was stepped up at Byrd Stadium. Fans were allowed to bring in bags that measured no larger than eight inches by 11 inches by 12 inches. All other bags, including backpacks, were not allowed into the stadium. Fans were subjected to enhanced screenings at all the gates. These increased security measures will apply to all future sporting events at the University, including basketball games at the Xfinity Center.

Maryland football looks to improve in second B1G season

After languishing in its final few sea- sons of football and men’s basketball in the ACC, a new era began last summer in College Park when the University of Maryland, along with Rutgers University in New Jersey, officially joined the Big Ten Conference. In their first season of Big Ten football, Maryland went 4-4 in the conference, and 7-6 overall, despite inconsistent play on offense, especially from starter C.J. Brown. Although Maryland managed to finish .500 in conference play and make a bowl game appearance in their first season in a new conference, the Terps often shot themselves in the foot with turnovers and penalties. Turnovers were a major factor in lopsided losses against Michigan State and national champion Ohio State. Penalties proved to be their downfall at Wisconsin. While Maryland didn’t play well in those losses, they had some bright spots in conference play.

Maryland won its first Big Ten game emphatically, 37-15 at Indiana, a perennial bottom-dweller in the conference in football. After committing four turnovers in a 52-24 blowout loss to then-20th-ranked Ohio State at home, the Terps bounced back with a 38-31 win over Iowa, usually one of the stronger teams in the Big Ten. Maryland also came from behind for a 20-19 win at Penn State. The game featured a fight during pregame warm-ups, followed by the Maryland captains refusing to shake hands with the Penn State captains before the coin toss. Kicker Brad Craddock won the game by kicking a 43-yard field goal with 51 seconds left in regulation. Maryland also went into “The Big House” and came away with a 23-16 win over Michigan in a game that proved to be the final nail in the cof- fin for then-Wolverines head coach Brady Hoke. The Terps ended the 2014 season on a down note, blowing a 25-point lead in losing to Rutgers, 41-38 in the regular season finale. They then lost 45-21 to Stanford on a chilly, windy night in the Foster Farms Bowl in the Bay Area.

Randy Edsall enters his fifth season as Maryland’s head coach. This year, he’ll be joined by a pair of familiar faces on his staff. Keith Dudzinski is the new defensive coordinator, and is switching the alignment of the front seven from a 3-4 to a 4-3. Darrell Perkins has been hired as the defensive backs coach. Last year, he was the cornerbacks coach at Old Dominion University in Virginia. Terry Richardson is the new running backs coach. He held the same position for the last two years in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Both Perkins and Richardson were assistant coaches on Edsall’s staff when he led Connecticut to an 8-5 record and an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl during the 2010-2011 season.

Junior cornerback William Likely will be relied upon by the coaching staff to be one of the team’s leaders this season. Last year, Likely had six interceptions, tied for the most interceptions in the Big Ten, and returned two of those for touchdowns. His 170 interception return yards led the conference, ranked fourth in the country, and set school single-season records for return yards and touch- downs. He also had 83 tackles (66 solo), 496 kickoff return yards with one touchdown (a 100-yard return in the bowl game against Stanford), and 225 yards and two touchdowns on punt returns. His average of 31 yards per kickoff return was fourth- best in the country. This preseason, Likely has been named to the Watch Lists for the Bednarik (Best Defen- sive Player), Nagurski (Most Out- standing Defensive Player), Thorpe (Best Defensive Back) and Hornung (Most Versatile Player) Awards. In an interview with The Baltimore Sun in mid-August, he proclaimed himself to be the best defensive back in the country.

Although Likely will lead the secondary and probably find himself matched up against the opponents’ top receivers, the defensive line will have to overcome some losses to season-ending injuries during training camp. The most recent loss was sophomore defensive end Malik Jones, who was a part of three state championship teams while attending Dunbar High School in Baltimore. Jones suffered an unspecified injury to his lower leg during practice on August 19. A week earlier, junior linebacker Abner Logan was lost to an ACL injury.

On offense, the search is ongoing for a starting quarterback following Brown’s graduation. There are three candidates for the job: redshirt junior Perry Hills, true junior Caleb Rowe, and senior Daxx Garman, who transferred from Oklahoma State. Both Rowe and Hills saw limited playing time last season. Rowe threw for 489 yards and five touchdowns in four games before suffering a season-ending ACL tear. Hills, who was selected to the All-Big Ten Academic Team, played in three games. He came in after Brown was injured against Iowa, and threw for 86 yards and a touchdown. Garman took over the starting job at Oklahoma State after the Cowboys’ original starter was injured. He won his first four starts, and threw for 2,041 yards and 12 touchdowns in nine games. His best game was against Texas Tech, when he threw for 370 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for another touchdown. Edsall says he’s still waiting for someone to separate himself from the other two. Meanwhile, there’s still competition among the receivers. Brandon Ross and Wes Brown are also competing to be the top running back.

Maryland will open its season with three straight home games at Byrd Stadium, starting on Sept. 5 against Richmond from the Football Championship Subdivision. That will be followed by games against Bowling Green and South Florida in the following two weeks. The Terps will then travel to play West Virginia on Sept. 26. Maryland will open its Big Ten schedule by welcoming Michigan and new head coach Jim Harbaugh (brother of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh) to College Park on Oct. 3 as part of Family Weekend. The Terps will play at Ohio State on Oct. 10, and following their bye week, will host Penn State at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Oct. 24. Maryland will travel to Iowa to play the Hawkeyes on Hal- loween before returning home to host Wisconsin on Nov. 7 during Homecoming. The Terps will play at Michigan State on Nov. 14, and their final home game will be Nov. 21 for Military Appreciation Day against Indiana. Maryland will wrap up the regular season at Rutgers during Thanksgiving weekend.

Ravens fall to Patriots in AFC Divisional Round

A season that started in controversy for the Baltimore Ravens came to a disappointing end against a bitter playoff rival.

The Ravens twice gave up a two- touchdown lead and fell to the New England Patriots 35-31 in the AFC Divisional Round when Joe Flacco’s Hail Mary pass on the final play of the game was batted down. The Patriots went on to defeat the Colts in the AFC Championship game and will face the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1.

The Ravens got to Foxborough by beating the archrival Steelers 30-17 in Pittsburgh on Jan. 3. Baltimore forced three turnovers to overcome 334 passing yards from Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown’s 117 yards receiving. Baltimore sacked Roethlisberger five times, and linebacker Terrell Suggs caught one of the Ravens’ two interceptions between his legs. On Baltimore’s next play, Flacco connected with tight end Crockett Gilmore for a 21- yard touchdown pass where Gilmore ran into the end zone untouched to give the Ravens a 30-15 lead. Torrey Smith also caught a touchdown, and Steve Smith, Sr. had 101 yards receiving.

Against the Patriots, the Ravens easily drove down the field and scored touchdowns on their first two possessions. Joe Flacco hit Kamar Aiken and Smith, Sr. for touchdown passes on those two drives. New England responded with two unanswered touchdowns of their own on a four-yard run by Tom Brady, and then a 15-yard scoring pass from Brady to Danny Amendola. However, after Brady through an interception to Daryl Smith, Flacco made the Patriots pay. He capped a six-play, 57-yard drive by connecting with tight end Owen Daniels on an 11-yard touchdown pass to give the Ravens a 21-14 lead at halftime.

The Ravens built on that momentum when Justin Forsett caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Flacco for a 28-14 lead just over three and a half minutes into the third quarter. However, the Patriots once again rallied back. With the ball on the Baltimore 24, Patriots running back Shane Vereen reported to the referee that he was lining up as an ineligible receiver. The referee informed the Ravens that Vereen was ineligible. The Ravens were confused by the formation, and Patriots tight end Michael Hoomanawanui caught a 14-yard pass. Ravens coach John Harbaugh ran out onto the field to get the officials’ attention, and was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. After the game, Harbaugh said he took the penalty because he felt the officials didn’t understand what was happening. On the next play, Rob Gronkowski caught a five-yard touchdown pass to cut the Ravens’ lead to 28-21. After Baltimore went three-and-out, New England got the ball out close to midfield. Wide receiver Julian Edelman went in motion to the left, caught a lateral from Brady, and then hit Amendola in stride for a 51-yard touchdown that stunned the Ravens and tied the game at 28.

In the fourth quarter, Justin Tucker hit a 25-yard field goal to put the Ravens back on top, 31-28. On New England’s next drive, Vereen was hit by Darian Smith, who knocked the ball out and recovered it. However, the fumble ruling was overturned, and New England kept possession. Six plays later, Brady connected with Brandon LaFell for a 23-yard touchdown pass to give New England its first lead, 35-31 with 5:13 left. The touchdown pass broke Joe Montana’s record of 45 career postseason touchdown passes. On Baltimore’s next possession, Flacco was intercepted in the end zone by Patriots safety Duron Harmon. New England wasn’t able to run out the clock, and Jacoby Jones returned the punt to Baltimore’s 48 with four second left. That’s when Flacco’s heave into the end zone was knocked down to end the Ravens’ season. Flacco’s two interceptions ended his streak of five straight playoff games without throwing an interception. Forsett ran for 129 yards, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Brady’s 367 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception, along with a touchdown run.

In other Ravens’ news, two days before the game, former FBI Director Robert Mueller submitted his report to the NFL about how the league handled the Ray Rice case. The report found that the Ravens should have submitted the evidence they had without the league having to ask, and that no one in the league office had seen the in-elevator tape prior to its public release in September. However, Mueller concluded in his report that the league could’ve done more to investigate the charges properly. The report says the league never tried to get in touch with the Atlantic City Police officers who investigated the case, or tried to get the in-elevator video from the Revel Casino, the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, or Rice’s lawyers. The report also found that the league never tried to follow up with the Ravens to find out if they had any additional information.

Maryland football: Diggs leaving for NFL, Craddock named best placekicker

The Maryland Terrapins football team finished the season on a down note, but, by its standards, still had a successful first season in the Big Ten conference.

Maryland (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten) fell to Stanford (8-5, 5-4 Pac-12) 45-21 in the Foster Farms Bowl on Dec. 30 at the new Levi’s Stadium in suburban Santa Clara, California, just about 11 miles from the Stanford campus. That came just over a month after the

Terrapins lost at home to Rut- gers 41-38 in the regular season fi- nale. Cardinal Kevin Hogan threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns, and added 50 yards rushing. Run- ning back Remound Wright added 49 yards and three touchdowns rushing as Stanford set a school record for most points in a bowl game. In their final games for the Terrapins, sixth-year senior quarterback C.J. Brown threw for 205 yards, ran for a touch- down, and was intercepted once, and wide receiver Stefon Diggs caught 10 passes for 138 yards.

Terps running back Wes Brown scored on a one-yard touchdown run to tie the game at seven early in the second quarter, but it was all Stanford after that. The Cardinal finished the first half by scoring touchdowns on three straight drives to take a 28-7 halftime lead. Stanford would score two more touchdowns to take a 42-7 lead early in the fourth quarter before cornerback Will Likely ran back a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.

Just four days after the Foster Farms Bowl, Diggs announced that he’d be entering the NFL Draft in May. Diggs had 62 catches for 792 yards and five touchdowns this season. His best game was against Iowa on Oct. 18, when he caught nine passes for 130 yards and a touchdown. He’s projected to be picked in the middle rounds of the draft.

Senior placekicker Brad Craddock was named the winner of the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top kicker at the College Football Awards Show on Dec. 11. Craddock, an Australian whose nickname is “Automatic Craddock,” made 18 of 19 field goal attempts, and all 44 of his extra-point attempts during the 2014 season. One of the few highlights from Maryland’s Oct. 4 loss at home to Ohio State was when Craddock nailed a school-record 57-yard field goal.

He set a school record by making 24 straight field goals, and tied the Big Ten record for most consecutive field goals, which he now shares with former Ohio State and current Cincinnati Bengals kicker Mike Nugent. Craddock was also the winner of the Kicker of the Year Award for the Big Ten, and was selected to the Football Writers Association of America All-America First Team, as well as the Associated Press’ All-America Second Team.