After taking an 11-point lead over Boston College early in the fourth quarter Saturday, the Maryland football team seemed destined for a satisfying win in its final home game as an ACC team. Instead, the Terrapins unraveled amid a flurry of mistakes and one questionable decision in a 29-26 loss to the Eagles in front of 32,147 at Byrd Stadium.
The game appeared headed for overtime when Eagles place kicker Nate Freese missed a 52-yard field goal as time expired. But Terrapins Coach Randy Edsall called a timeout before the kick in an attempt to freeze Freese, allowing a second, successful attempt that triggered a wild celebration on the visitor’s sideline.
“It’s one of those things that just happens. Hindsight’s 20-20,” Edsall said. “Obviously, I shouldn’t have taken the timeout. He missed it. But it’s just one of those things that you feel you’re doing something to put a little more doubt in the guy’s head and made a decision. Just didn’t work out.”
The kick was the final blow to a collapse that began after Maryland (6-5, 2-5) took a 24-13 lead on quarterback C.J. Brown’s three-yard touchdown run with 10 minutes 52 seconds left in regulation. But on the first play after the kickoff, running back Andre Williams broke loose for a 72-yard touchdown run, and just like that, the Eagles (7-4, 4-3) were within 24-20.
In losing for the fourth time in five games, the Terrapins gave the ball back soon thereafter when freshman running back Jacquille Veii fumbled, and linebacker Stephen Daniels recovered at the Boston College 7. Five plays later, quarterback Chase Rettig completed a 74-yard touchdown to wide receiver Alex Amidon, who was wide open.
Edsall said after the game that Amidon had so much space because Terrapins defensive backs Will Likely and Anthony Nixon collided.
Maryland’s Marcus Whitfield blocked Freese’s extra-point try, and teammate Anthony Nixon scooped up the ball at the 2 before running down the right sideline for two points that knotted the score at 26.
After the Terrapins punted on their next series, Boston College gained possession at its 20 with 1:32 to play and one timeout remaining. Williams carried twice for two and five yards, and on third and three, the senior darted left for 36 yards to the Maryland 37. Rettig spiked the ball, and following a two-yard run by tailback Myles Willis, Freese trotted onto the field for the final sequence.
“This is definitely a tough loss,” said Whitfield, a senior linebacker. “I couldn’t ask any more from the guys. They played their hearts out. I just have love for my team. They did their best. We all did our best.”
Williams, the nation’s leading rusher, finished with 263 yards and two scores on 32 carries. He also became the 16th player in major college football history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season.
Maryland got 178 passing yards and one touchdown from Brown, who completed 19 of 31 passes and was sacked four times. The redshirt senior added 22 rushing yards and a touchdown. Running back Brandon Ross led the Terrapins with 44 rushing yards on 11 carries.
The teams entered halftime tied at 10, with both committing one gaffe after another. The Terrapins were the first to benefit when Boston College center Andy Gallik’s shotgun snap from his 26 skimmed along the ground and through Rettig’s legs. Rettig tried to dive on the loose ball, but as it rolled backward toward the end zone, Whitfield recovered at the 1.
One play later, running back Albert Reid leaped over the pile at the line of scrimmage for a 10-3 Maryland lead with 4:52 left in the first quarter.
Minutes later, Boston College blocked a punt and recovered at the Terrapins 6. Williams turned the corner around the left side on the next play and ran uncontested into the end zone with 12:30 to go until intermission.
Maryland’s next series continued the trend. First, the Terrapins were called for an ineligible player downfield, and on the next snap, wide receiver Nigel King was assessed a 15-yard penalty for pass interference.
At the end of the series, wide receiver Lavern Jacobs caught a 34-yard pass in the end zone, but the touchdown was nullified when officials said that the sophomore pushed off. Brown then completed a pass to the 1, but he had crossed the line of scrimmage before throwing, drawing another flag and forcing a punt.
“Again we keep shooting ourselves in the foot,” Brown said. “We’ve got to be able to put people away. We weren’t able to do that. Boston College played great.”