BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — After trailing by 16 points in the third quarter, primarily thanks to a multitude of turnovers, the Maryland Terrapins climbed back ahead of Indiana with their best chance to secure bowl eligibility on the line.
Backup quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome, filling in for an injured Kasim Hill, led the offense down the field to score and take a one-point lead with 4:54 left in the game. But Indiana responded with a field goal, giving the Terps 2:32 to attempt a game-winning drive.
“Felt like we were going to win,” said Matt Canada, Maryland’s interim head coach and offensive coordinator.
But the game was decided by yet another Maryland turnover, this one with 52 seconds left. Pigrome, who had been throwing accurate passes to keep Maryland in the game, fumbled near midfield to seal a 34-32 defeat. The Terps still have not won a Big Ten road game since September 2017.
After opening the game with promise — outgaining the Hoosiers 169-12 in the first quarter and taking a 6-0 lead — Maryland’s chances to defeat Indiana started to slip away with a pair of turnovers in the second quarter. First, Hill underthrew a deep pass to Dontay Demus for an interception, and then Tayon Fleet-Davis fumbled on the Terrapins' next possession. Both turnovers led to touchdowns. In the third quarter, Maryland fumbled again, which led to an Indiana field goal.
Maryland played most of the game without Hill, who went down with a leg injury midway through the second quarter. Hill walked off the field but spent the second half in street clothes on the sideline as Pigrome finished the game. Pigrome completed 10 of 13 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown.
“As soon as he came in, he got everybody going,” running back Anthony McFarland said of Pigrome. " . . . I feel like Pig had a hell of a game as soon as he came in, and I’m proud of him."
Canada did not have any update on Hill after the game.
Maryland (5-5, 3-4 Big Ten), which has only gone to three bowl games since Ralph Friedgen was let go after the 2010 season, will not play in the postseason unless it upsets either Ohio State or Penn State in its last two games. Reaching six wins could be Canada’s best case to make to return as the permanent coach.
“I know Purdue wasn’t favored a couple weeks ago when they put it on Ohio State,” linebacker Tre Watson said after the loss. “I know Michigan State wasn’t favored when they beat Penn State in their place. We’ll have similar opportunities to do those things against both teams.”
Unlike in previous losses this season, Maryland’s offense efficiently drove down the field through much of the game, recording 542 yards of offense. But the Terps struggled to finish drives, committing four turnovers and settling for four field goals.
On the opening drive, Maryland had a false start on a first-and-goal play, and that drive ended with a field goal. On the Terps' next possession, Hill missed an open receiver in the end zone on third down and the team again had to leave the field with three points.
“Those are points you’ve got to make,” Canada said, adding that late in the first half a player went the wrong way on the play that led to another field goal attempt on fourth down.
Since the opener against Texas, all of Maryland’s games — wins and losses — had been decided by at least 21 points. But on Saturday, the Terps had to play a close game. They performed well in their attempt to catch up with Indiana (5-5, 2-5), but they ultimately could not overcome their mistakes.
Maryland’s defense had a chance to stop the Hoosiers after the home team received the ball with 4:54 to go. The Terps gave up a 27-yard run and then a few more short runs, leading to what became Indiana’s game-winning field goal from 42 yards out.
“We had an opportunity as a defense, and it was in our control,” Watson said. “Unfortunately we failed. I feel personally responsible for part of that. That makes it even more tough, especially knowing the offense had been doing so well, moving the ball down the field and then just a tough play happens.”
Ty Johnson, who missed the last game with a calf strain, played early Saturday then left with an injury, which Canada said was different without specifying. Javon Leake, who scored on a 27-yard run two plays after his 47-yard kickoff return in the third quarter, also had to go to the locker room with an injury later in the game.
In their absence, McFarland, a redshirt freshman, had 29 carries for 210 yards, both career highs, en route to becoming the first freshman in program history to pass the 100-yard mark in three different games. He also broke Maryland freshman records for rushing yards in a game and in a season.
“If we don’t win, nothing I do means anything to me,” McFarland said. “It doesn’t matter how many yards I have, how many touchdowns I have. I care about winning more than anything.”