Maryland blasts previously unbeaten Minnesota 42-13
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — During a season unlike any other, the Maryland football team has showed its mettle by responding positively to a variety of challenges.
Playing for a fallen teammate under an interim coach, the Terrapins came out Saturday looking for a bounce-back victory and got it, walloping previously unbeaten Minnesota 42-13.
Rolling up 432 yards and playing turnover-free football, Maryland (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) looked nothing like the team that lost badly to Temple one week earlier.
Maybe it’s because the players are so darn resilient.
“It’s unbelievable,” interim coach Matt Canada said. “These kids are special, what they go through and how they came back. They’re awesome.
“We are so proud of our players, how they play, how they stick together and how they focus on each other. Somebody smart ought to do a study on it, because it’s impressive.”
Both teams were playing with heavy hearts. The Golden Gophers (3-1, 0-1) wore helmet stickers to honor former offensive lineman Nick Connelly, who died of leukemia on Wednesday.
“It’s been an emotional three days for our football team,” coach P.J. Fleck said.
Maryland players wore helmet stickers to remember Connelly and former teammate Jordan McNair, who died of heatstroke in June after collapsing during a conditioning drill.
Maryland is also adjusting to a big change in the coaching staff. Head coach DJ Durkin is on administrative leave during an external investigation of the football program, so Canada has added the role of interim coach to his job as offensive coordinator.
Freshman Anthony McFarland ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns, Tre Watson returned an interception for a score and Ty Johnson contributed an 81-yard TD run.
“The players played really good,” Canada said. “I got out of the way.”
Minnesota hardly resembled the squad that had bullied three straight nonconference foes at home.
“I thought there was really a lot of good, and a lot of bad,” Fleck said. “We were very inconsistent in a lot of areas, and when you’re inconsistent on the road in the Big Ten, it’s going to be very difficult for you to win.”
After taking the blame for the loss to Temple — a 35-14 embarrassment — Canada deployed an offense against Minnesota that averaged 8.5 yards per play.
Effectively mixing the pass and run, Maryland led 14-0 after 11 minutes, increased the margin to 18 points shortly after halftime and took a 35-13 lead into the fourth quarter.
Against Temple, the Terrapins didn’t score a touchdown on offense. The Owls jammed the line of scrimmage to choke the running game, and Maryland quarterback Kasim Hill threw for 56 yards and was intercepted once.
In this one, Hill went 10 for 14 for 117 yards and a TD.
Minnesota freshman Zach Annexstad completed 14 of 32 passes for 169 yards and was picked off twice.
“This is how failing is growth,” Fleck said. “He’s got to grow up. I know he’ll respond in the right way.”
Watson’s 36-yard interception return made it 28-10, and a 64-yard touchdown run by McFarland later in the quarter essentially clinched it.
The Terrapins outgained the Gophers 288-109 in yardage and led 21-10 at halftime.
Maryland immediately showed that this game was going to be different than the last one, passing on the opening play and putting the ball in the air three times during its initial possession. Hill went 3 for 3 and ran for 2 yards on a fourth-and-2 during a march that ended with a 26-yard touchdown run by McFarland.
Johnson’s 81-yard run made it 14-0.
“When you’re down 14-0 before you know it, everything changes,” Fleck said.
After a field goal by Minnesota, Hill was an instant away from being tackled when he flipped a short pass to DJ Turner, who turned it into a 54-yard score .
Maryland was penalized 10 times for 118 yards. Minnesota’s only penalty was for a 15-yarder with just over four minutes left.
“We had too many penalties. We have to get that cleaned up,” Canada said.
Minnesota: A team with 52 percent freshmen finally showed its youth and inexperience. It became apparent early that the Gophers’ bid to go 4-0 for the first time since 2013 was not going to happen.
Maryland: It’s hard to figure out the Terrapins. Was this really the same team that finished with 195 yards (63 passing) against Temple?
Minnesota: After a bye next weekend, the Gophers host Iowa for homecoming on Oct. 6.
Maryland: Following a bye next week, the Terrapins resume play on Oct. 6 at Michigan.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25