After coming back from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime, the Maryland football team watched anxiously as Minnesota kicker Brock Walker attempted to extend the game with an extra point in the first overtime period. But the kick sailed to the right, and the Terps took home the 45-44 win.
For Maryland running back Jake Funk, who rushed for 221 yards and a touchdown, the Terps’ victory was a long time coming.
“It was just an accumulation of a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice from my team and myself. That’s the best way I can put it,” Funk said on Glenn Clark Radio Nov. 4. “We have had a lot of guys put in a lot of effort and a lot of time to be able to come out and put that showcase out on the field. We were all excited for each other and excited for the program, and it was really needed.”
Funk has made a major impact for Maryland (1-1) as the team’s lead running back. After missing nearly all of the past two seasons battling two ACL tears — the latest one coming against Temple in September 2019 — the redshirt senior had a career night against Minnesota and helped Maryland pile up 675 yards of offense as team.
“Friday night, I proved [something] to myself more than anything, and that was the biggest thing for me. I proved to myself that I was capable of doing that on this big stage,” Funk said. “And it was an accumulation of hard work and dedication to my craft. … Just going through what I’ve been through, I thank God every day that he gave me the strength to pull through all that, mentally and physically.”
Sophomore quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa earned the honors of Big Ten co-Offensive Player of the Week thanks to his performance in the comeback against Minnesota. Tagovailoa completed 26 of 35 passes for 394 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He also had 59 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns.
“He’s got a lot of ability to be a very special quarterback. … He made an impact on our team immediately,” Funk said. “He’s a leader. He’s somebody who people gravitate toward. … He’s somebody who, obviously, was disappointed with his performance Week 1 and really took it upon himself to get back into the film room and really change the way he played and the way he read the defense. He was on it Friday night.”
Maryland fell to Northwestern, 43-3, in a disappointing season opener Oct. 24, racking up four turnovers. The Terps posted 207 yards of offense compared to the Wildcats’ 537 yards and had 14 first downs compared to Northwestern’s 31 first downs.
“I can tell you right now, we were on the sidelines at Northwestern as the game was ticking down and there was a bunch of the leaders on the team that were like, ‘This is not going to happen again, this will not happen again,’ and I think the leadership of this team came in and we had a week of practice like no other,” Funk said. “We were hitting on all cylinders, we were demanding perfection. All that came together and we put it out on the field.”
Maryland will travel to State College, Pa., to take on the Penn State Nov. 7. The Nittany Lions have outscored the Terps, 163-6, the past three years. Penn State started the season with losses to Indiana and Ohio State but is considered a heavy favorite against Maryland.
“You got to forget about the last game. … If you get caught up in the past, the present is going to catch up to you,” Funk said of the Terps’ matchup Nov. 7. “We have to have a good week of practice and we have to just continue to prepare like we did for Minnesota.”
For more from Funk, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Maryland Athletics