The Maryland football team knew it needed perfection to have a shot at beating 10th-ranked Florida State.
That hasn’t happened, as the Terrapins trail the Seminoles, 27-0.
Maryland fumbled twice, negated two kickoff returns with holding penalties and never entered Seminoles territory in the first half Saturday, shooting itself squarely in the foot, just like in last weekend’s 45-10 loss at Clemson.
Florida State took its opening drive 61 yards on 11 plays, capped off by a five-yard Devonta Freeman touchdown run. Maryland receiver Stefon Diggs returned after missing the Clemson game with an ankle injury but was given a rest on special teams, as Levern Jacobs handled kickoffs. Jacobs, a freshman wide receiver, promptly fumbled away the ensuing kickoff at Maryland’s 10-yard line, before quarterback E.J. Manuel found tight end Nick O’Leary in the end zone on the next play.
It was the second time in as many weeks that the Terps allowed two touchdowns in a 12-second span.
Another fumble by quarterback Shawn Petty, who lost three against Clemson, turned into a 26-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins, which gave the Seminoles kicker the NCAA’s all-time scoring record nine seconds into the second quarter. Hopkins again connected from 40 yards with 11 minutes and 5 seconds left in the half, while a 30-yard touchdown pass from Manuel to Rashard Greene, who burned safety Anthony Nixon in single coverage on the outside, made up the final scoring before halftime.
Florida State had its share of gaffes, including three false-start penalties, a kickoff that went out of bounds and a kick-catching interference call, but Maryland’s 120th-ranked offense could do little against the nation’s top-ranked defense, needing until the half’s final minute to cross its 40-yard line.
The Terps’ last 10 first-quarter drives, dating back to the Georgia Tech game two weeks ago, have concluded as follows: Punt, punt, fumble, punt, fumble returned for touchdown, punt, fumble, punt, punt, fumble. That list doesn’t even include Jacobs’s fumble on the kickoff Saturday.
Manuel has completed 14 of 18 passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns, while Freeman has rushed 11 times for 77 yards and a touchdown. Petty was 4 of 9 for 27 yards, but took three sacks. Terps linebacker Kenneth Tate was a lone bright spot, finishing with four tackles and two sacks.
Maryland has gained just 27 yards on 21 plays.