Maryland (3-3, 1-2 Big Ten) hasn’t played in a bowl game since 2016, and the outlook for this season has become gloomier with yet another loss in a game most pegged as winnable. The Terps have matchups with Indiana and Minnesota soon before the difficult November slate begins. Meanwhile, this injury-riddled Purdue team (2-4, 1-2), still missing star receiver Rondale Moore, started to find its footing with its first conference win of the year. And the Boilermakers did so in convincing fashion, sending Maryland home from West Lafayette, Ind., with few positives to take away from this game.
Here are five takeaways from the loss:
Three times, the Terps squandered scoring chances with their own errors. On the first drive of the day, Dontay Demus Jr.’s long touchdown catch was waved off thanks to a holding call. Standout running back Anthony McFarland Jr., who had a quiet day, bobbled then dropped what would have been fourth-down touchdown catch to close the first quarter.
Maryland lined up to attempt a long field goal late in the second quarter, but a delay of game pushed the unit back so that the staff opted to punt instead. Maryland had three timeouts that could have been used there. Maryland remains the only FBS program that hasn’t made a field goal this year; kicker Joseph Petrino has missed both his attempts.
After Maryland finished last year as one of the most penalized teams in the nation, with whistles costing the Terps about 80 yards per game, Coach Michael Locksley pledged this team would be more disciplined. Locksley’s squad showed some progress in the first two outings, wins against Howard and Syracuse, but has backtracked since. Against the Boilermakers, nine penalties cost the Terps 67 yards but more importantly, they took away those chances to score.
Pigrome can run but struggled to pass
Pigrome took off late in the third quarter on a designed run, finessing through defenders and spinning to gain some extra yardage. The 26-yard gain showed the threat Pigrome can be as a runner.
But the following offensive snap showed Pigrome’s struggles as a passer and where he needs to improve as he continues to lead this program in the absence of injured starter Josh Jackson. Pigrome missed Darryl Jones on a slant and Purdue’s Cory Trice snatched the ball away.
Trice had already picked off Pigrome once in the game. Late in the second quarter, Locksley took a timeout to give his team a chance to score with 46 seconds on the clock. Pigrome completed a nine-yard pass to running back Tayon Fleet-Davis. But on the following play, Trice grabbed the interception and returned it for a touchdown, giving the Boilermakers a 30-14 lead at halftime.
Pigrome ran 13 times for 107 yards and created perhaps Maryland’s best offensive play with a 61-yard run after he faked a handoff to McFarland. But overall, he lacked passing accuracy, completing 21 of 39 attempts for 218 yards and no touchdowns. Seven of those completions and 69 passing yards came in the fourth quarter, which Maryland entered trailing by 19. Pigrome showed some poise with four straight completions on a late fourth-quarter drive after Maryland forced and recovered a fumble.
The Terps’ poor third-down defense
Even when Maryland’s defense forced the Boilermakers into third-and-long situations, Purdue continued to extend drives with ease. Plummer showed poise in these moments, sometimes scrambling to pick up the needed yardage and other times hitting receivers downfield.
The Boilermakers’ first score came on Plummer’s pass to freshman receiver David Bell on a third and 20, making Keandre Jones’s sack on the previous play seem meaningless. Purdue converted a third and seven on its next drive, setting up a short touchdown run on the following play. Near the third quarter’s end, Plummer threw another long pass to convert a third-and-17 attempt on another drive that ended in a touchdown.
Plummer shines for Purdue
In the battle of backup quarterbacks, Plummer was the clear winner. He threw for 420 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions while completing 33 of 41 passes. He generated that prolific passing attack without Moore, Purdue’s best player.
Maryland’s defensive miscues helped enable Plummer’s success. The secondary couldn’t contain Purdue on some of those obvious passing downs on third-and-long attempts. Maryland missed tackles and allowed receivers to beat defenders downfield as Plummer racked up yardage.
Javon Leake as Maryland’s No. 1 back
McFarland has usually served as the Terps’ go-to running back, but against Purdue, Javon Leake took the first handoff of the game and finished with more carries. Leake ran seven times for 79 yards, only exceeded by Pigrome’s rushing mark, and he scored one of Maryland’s two touchdowns. Leake also notched a 33-yard reception. He hobbled off the field early in the third quarter but returned on the next drive, a relief for the position group that’s already missing two reserves with knee injuries.
McFarland, who has been playing through a minor ankle injury, rushed four times for only four yards. Just once in McFarland’s career, his debut against Texas in 2018, has he finished with fewer. McFarland caught two passes for 18 yards but dropped the early fourth-down pass that could have been a touchdown.