COLLEGE PARK, Md. — This one probably wouldn’t have been quite as bad had Maryland never seen the ball again.
If the Connecticut Huskies (2-1) had simply managed to run out the remaining 4:39 on the clock after Perry Hills pulled the Maryland Terrapins (2-1) within 24-21 thanks to a 10 yard TD run, this one might not have been quite as stinging.
Unfortunately for Terps head coach Randy Edsall Saturday, his first meeting with his former school did end with that same 24-21 score, but it didn’t end that way.
Instead UConn gave Maryland the ball right back with plenty of time (3:29 left), two timeouts and good field position (the Maryland 42) needing only a field goal to force overtime.
What happened in those final moments will cause greater consternation for Edsall than even a blowout loss may have.
Instead of marching down to tie things up-or perhaps finish off a victory which would allow Maryland to surpass their win total of a season ago and start thinking about the possibility of bowl eligibility, the Terrapins absolutely imploded.
It started out well enough. Freshman quarterback Perry Hills (who struggled to final numbers of 11-25, 122 yards, 1TD and 1INT) pushed the Terps just outside the edge of field goal range thanks to a 12 yard completion to WR Kerry Boykins. That was followed by a six yard run by freshman RB Wes Brown, leaving the Terps on UConn’s 37 yard line with roughly three minutes to play.
From the 37 yard line with 3:00 to play, the Terps would ultimately end up running 2:35 off the clock running six plays that would gain a total of -3 yards and end with a turnover on downs.
There was one positive mixed in (an 11 yard catch and run from Hills to WR Stefon Diggs good for a first down), but otherwise there were sacks, quarterback scrambles, WR drops and a bizarre 3rd and long call that resulted in a four yard loss after a completed pass.
There were no timeouts called until the Terps stared down the barrel of 4th and 18 with 25 seconds to play. The timeout allowed Maryland to set up a Hail Mary pass that went through the back of the endzone.
Edsall was asked about his decision to not use a timeout after the game.
“I didn’t think about taking a timeout there” the coach said. “That’s something that we haven’t been good at even in practice…that two minute situation. Sometimes guys just try to do too much. That’s where we as coaches just have to continually teach.”
He’s right to point out that Boykins exacerbated their troubles by dropping a ball along the sideline that would have left them with third and manageable instead of 3rd and long, but it doesn’t absolve Edsall (or Offensive Coordinator Mike Locksley) of fault for the final drive.
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