By Harry Lichtman
COLLEGE PARK — After suffering a heartbreaking loss at Indiana the previous week, the Maryland Terrapins football team (5-6 overall, 3-5 Big Ten) continued to search for their sixth win that would secure them a bowl game bid.
In Saturday afternoon’s 2018 home finale, the Terps faced a mighty-tough number 10-ranked Ohio State team (10-1 overall, 7-1 Big Ten) led by head coach Urban Meyer, in what was supposed to be a blowout by the visitors. Instead, it turned out to be a hard-fought, exciting, high-scoring affair, with the Buckeyes coming out on top in overtime, 52-51.
Early on, the Terps looked to surprise everybody when Anthony McFarland scored on two long touchdown runs to open the gate, with the score 14-3 in the first quarter.
However, early in the second quarter, with Maryland up 17-3, Ohio State made it more competitive when Bullis alum Dwayne Haskins fired a strike to Terry McLaurin for a 64-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 17-10.
The Terps didn’t back down, because Javon Leake took it in from 16 yards out to make it a two-score game again. A late Buckeyes touchdown on a J.K. Dobbins dive into the end zone made it 24-17 at halftime.
On the second play of the second half, Haskins’s pass was tipped and intercepted by cornerback RaVon Davis and returned 37 yards to the house to extend the Terps’ lead to 31-17. Late in the previous half, Davis had been a liability when two consecutive penalties were called on him.
However, the Buckeyes came back with a touchdown run and touchdown pass from Haskins to tie the game at 31-31 early in the fourth quarter, which contained a lot of action.
On Maryland’s ensuing drive, head coach Matt Canada showed off his bag of tricks by running a fake punt successfully on fourth down, which helped move the chains.
This resulted in quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome connecting with receiver Jeshaun Jones toward the sideline and into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown to give the Terps a 38-31 lead midway through the fourth.
Still, the Buckeyes didn’t give up, as their 75-yard drive resulted in Haskins taking it in on a one-yard keeper to tie the game once again.
After a Pigrome-to-Darryl Jones bomb pinned the Terps at the OSU one-yard-line, the drive resulted in McFarland fumbling the ball as he tried to reach the goal line, with receiver Chigoziem Okonwko right there to recover the ball in the end zone, giving Maryland a 45-38 lead, with 1:41 remaining.
However, a big return on the ensuing kickoff and key penalties led to Haskins finding Binjimen Victor in the corner of the end zone to tie the game at 45-45, with 40 seconds left.
With the Maryland offense unable to score in the last 40 seconds, the game headed to overtime.
The Buckeyes got the ball first, and they found the end zone, as Haskins kept it himself for the score and the visitors’ first lead of the game. The extra point made it 52-45.
However, a 24-yard scamper by McFarland led to Tayon Fleet-Davis reaching the end zone for the touchdown. But instead of attempting an extra point to send it to double overtime, Canada opted to go for two and the upset over a Top-10 team.
Yet on the two-point conversion, Pigrome’s pass to a wide-open Jones in the end zone barely missed, as Ohio State hung on and the Terps lost another heartbreaker.
“Great game,” said Canada. “Obviously, we went for the win in the end. That’s why I called it. Didn’t work, so that’s on me.”
The Terps will have one last chance for a bowl game appearance when they head to Happy Valley to face the Penn State Nittany Lions in the regular season finale next Saturday, Nov, 24.