Clearly, the biggest news to come out of College Park on Saturday (ha!) was the Maryland football team’s fifth straight loss, this time a 41-14 bludgeoning by 10th-ranked Florida State that officially ended the Terrapins’ bowl hopes and dampened what otherwise was a joyous occasion for Maryland’s 17 seniors on their final sendoff at Byrd Stadium.
It was over early, another foot-shooting episode for a Terps team that dug itself into another hole. For the second straight week, they gave up two touchdowns in a 12-second span. This time around, it was Seminoles running back Devonta Freeman punching it in from five yards out with 9 minutes 16 seconds left in the first quarter. Maryland wide receiver Levern Jacobs then fumbled the ensuing kickoff return, and E.J. Manuel found Nick O’Leary in the end zone from the Terps 10-yard line on the very next play.
And so, six minutes into the game, Maryland found itself down 14-0, dazed and confused, unable to recover when they knew only perfection would suffice.
“You can’t give Florida State that many points early on,” Edsall said. “With what we have to try and do offensively we can’t play from behind like that. It makes it hard. We can’t shoot ourselves in the foot and turn the ball over. We have to make people go the distance and go 75 or 80 yards. When you give them a short field like we did it puts a lot of pressure on your defense. Florida State will cause you to have some of those mistakes. We had some drops today that hurt us in critical times too. Give them credit, but we didn’t execute as well as I thought we could have executed today.”
That included dropped deep balls by Stefon Diggs and Nigel King, holding penalties on kickoff returns by King and Tyrek Cheeseboro and Petty’s fourth lost fumble in the past two games.
“It was really hard to get down early and expect to fight back easily,” senior safety Eric Franklin said. “We made it hard for ourselves today. Our mistakes kept piling on top of each other and it hurt us in the end. We shot ourselves in the foot and we couldn’t come back from it.”
Bent on adding another tombstone to the graveyard of defeated top-10 opponents that rests outside their practice facility, the Terps preached all week about minimizing mistakes to at least give them some semblance of a fighting chance. That dissipated quickly.
“It was really hard to get down early and expect to fight back easily,” offensive lineman Justin Gilbert said. “We needed to put drives together in the beginning, but we didn’t do that, so you saw the outcome in the end.
“Everyone was pretty down, especially since it’s the seniors’ last game at home. That’s not how you really want to go out, but guys are just upset. This isn’t really the season we were looking for. There was a lot of adversity.”
The passion was still tangible right until the final buzzer, and Maryland still insists on never glancing at the scoreboard as the losses grow more frequent and painful. But putting themselves in early holes certainly haven’t helped matters, either, especially for a team already wrecked by injuries.
“We’re never going to quit,” Petty said. “We’re always going to play all four quarters. We fight for 60 minutes; it’s part of our motto. Every play is a battle. We’re not going to give up just because the other team is up. We’re going to always keep fighting. We’re not going to lay down for anyone.”
Some statistical tidbits
>> Kevin Dorsey’s two touchdown receptions moved him past the 1,000-yard mark for his career. More on the performances of Dorsey and Kenneth Tate, who became the first Maryland player with three sacks in a single game since 2002, on the blog later Sunday.
>> Stefon Diggs moved into the top 10 on Maryland’s single-season receiving yards list, finishing with 45 yards on three catches Saturday. He’s 20 yards behind Darrius Heyward-Bey for ninth place all-time, and can easily move into third all-time on the single-season all-purpose yards list. His 1,648 yards are just 70 behind Bruce Perry.
>> Linebacker L.A. Goree, starting in place of injured captain Demetrius Hartsfield (ACL), set a career high with 13 tackles, including seven unassisted.
>> Shawn Petty set a career-high with 136 passing yards, and his 42-yard touchdown reception to Kevin Dorsey in garbage time was a career-long.
>> Matt Robinson notched his first career interception, picking off Manuel in the fourth quarter.