Terps’ Comeback Against Wildcats Falls Short
Max Bortenschlager completed 17-of-38 passes for a career-high 255 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Northwestern defeated Maryland 37-21 at the Capital One Field in College Park, MD on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Alan P. Santos/DC Sports Box
COLLEGE PARK, MD - The Maryland Terrapins (3-3) came out on the wrong end of Saturday evening’s Big Ten battle against the Northwestern Wildcats (3-3) falling 37-21. Northwestern entered the matchup losers of its last two games but managed to exploit a passive Terrapins defense with quarterback Clayton Thorson throwing for 293 yards, one touchdown and a rushing touchdown. Thorson led an offense that piled up 500 yards completing 27-of 36 pass attempts to nine different receivers but also throwing two interceptions.
 
“Everybody was down,” said Maryland Senior Linebacker Jermaine Carter, Jr. “We wanted to win the game. We practiced hard all week. We focused. We just didn’t come out on the right side of things today.

To say that the loss is a disappointment would be an understatement. The Terps should have been favored to win this game at home against a Northwestern team making its first trip to Maryland with a 41-17 loss to Duke on its resume. But one thing is for certain with this Maryland team: nothing. The Terps have been treading water since losing two starting quarterbacks to ACL injuries.

Terps’ “next man up” quarterback Max Bortenschlager started against the Wildcats and had a decent outing completing 17-of-38 passes for a career-high 255 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Most of Bortenschlager’s looks went to wide receiver D.J. Moore who tallied 12 catches for 210 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Moore is the seventh player in Maryland history with 200 yards receiving and the first player to record 12 catches since Torrey Smith caught 14 balls for 240 yards against NC State in 2010.

“I’m at a happy medium right now,” Moore stated. “It was a career day. But, at the same time, we did lose. We have things we need to correct.”

Maryland opened the scoring up with Bortenschlager hitting Moore for a 12-yard score to take a 7-0 lead. After Northwestern responded with a filed goal, the teams traded touchdowns with Thorson finding Justin Jackson for a touchdown to complete an 8-play, 71 yard drive and Bortenschlager hitting Moore for the pair’s second touchdown of the evening. Norhtwestern responded with two unanswered touchdowns to lead 24-14 at halftime.

Bortenschlager left the game briefly after injuring his left arm after sustaining a hit. In his absence it was clear that without the sophomore, the Terps have no chance of moving the ball on offense. Without him in the game, the Terps were reduced to a wildcat style offense that went nowhere. Bortenschlager would return later in the and get Maryland to within six points of the lead after finding Taivon Jacobs from 20-yards out for his third TD pass of the game.

With the momentum on their side, J.C. Jackson picked off Thorson in the endzone for a touchback but the offense couldn’t do anything with the ball, going 3-and-out for minus yards.  The Wildcats would put the game away after converting on a 4th-and-one, and drawing an unsportsmanlike penalty on a frustrated Maryland defense put them just outside the red zone. Running back Justin Jackson broke free two plays later for the 21-yard touchdown run.

“To win games you have to do those things,” said Durkin. “When there’s a sudden change in the game with a play on special teams or a turnover, you like to get some momentum and keep going and we just weren’t able to do that. We’ll have to go back and look at it and see what the reason is for it.”

After starting 2-0, the loss to Northwestern drops the Terps back to .500 on the season and last in the Big Ten. The Terps have now lost two of its last three games in blowouts, including two at home. Last season, in DJ Durkins first year, the Terps started the season 4-0 before bottoming out and losing five of its last six games. Maryland is tied with Northwestern in the Big Ten at 1-2 but with the tiebreak going to the Wildcats the Terps dwell in the basement.

Maryland next travels to Wisconsin for the first time since 2014 to face Big Ten rival Wisconsin at Noon EST at Camp Randall Stadium .

Written by Teddy Owusu