Trailing 17-10 after blocking a field goal just before halftime, Maryland football (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten) looked to build on its momentum to start the second half.

Instead, Minnesota (5-2, 3-1 Big Ten) opened the second half by executing an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in 5:42, pushing the Golden Gophers’ lead to 24-10.

Long scoring drives were a key theme of Maryland’s struggles throughout the game, as the Terps were unable to stop the run during a 34-16 loss in Minneapolis. Coming off a bye week, the Terps’ penalty woes persisted as well with eight infractions overall, six of which came in the opening 30 minutes.

Minnesota entered Saturday’s contest without its two top running backs in Mohamed Ibrahim and Treyson Potts (both out with season-ending injuries). Yet, the Gophers rushed for 326 yards with rushing touchdowns from four different players. Both Ty Thomas and Mar’Keise Irving finished with more than 100 yards on the ground.

Maryland’s defenders struggled to tackle and maintain their gaps defensively, allowing cutback lanes for Gophers running backs. Additionally, Minnesota’s heavy sets with either six or seven offensive linemen bullied Maryland’s front seven.

“It’s not really who’s running the ball for them, it’s what they have up front,” head coach Michael Locksley said. “[Minnesota] has a culture up front that they want to run the football. To have two weeks to prepare and still give up that type of yardage in the run game is unacceptable. Again, it starts with me teaching and demanding that we do the things necessary to take away what defenses or offenses want to do.”

Losing by 14 early in the third quarter, Maryland’s offense needed a scoring drive to regain momentum, but it didn’t happen. On a fourth-and-1 from the Terps’ 34-yard-line, junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa scrambled toward the sideline. He lofted his pass over Minnesota defenders, but it was low and dropped out of the hands of senior tight end Chig Okonkwo.

Minnesota took advantage of the great field position, continuing to lean on its versatile rushing attack. Four plays later, Irving evaded the tackles of several Terps, bouncing off the edge for a 9-yard touchdown, pushing the Gophers’ lead to 31-10 with 5:31 remaining in the third quarter.

Tagovailoa’s fourth-down incompletion to Okonkwo highlighted another example of Maryland’s inability to keep drives alive. The Terps finished a combined 5-for-12 in third- and fourth-down situations. Conversely, the Terps’ defense struggled to get off the field on third down, allowing seven conversions in 11 opportunities.

“Technique and effort, we’ve just got to focus on doing our jobs and being efficient,” sophomore linebacker Ruben Hyppolite II said of getting off the field on third down. “We have to get off the field on third down, that’s a big goal for our defense.”

Coming off the bye week, Maryland’s offense didn’t start the way it wanted to on the opening possession. Tagovailoa was stripped by Nyles Pinckney on the fourth play of the game. The Gophers recovered the fumble, marking Tagovailoa’s eighth turnover in the past three games.

While Minnesota was unable to convert off the turnover, Tagovailoa’s fumble offered another reminder of the Terps’ turnover issues the prior two games. However, Tagovailoa responded during the following series, orchestrating an eight-play, 39-yard drive, capped off by a 47-yard Joseph Petrino field goal.

Minnesota’s offense found its rhythm during the remainder of its first-half drives. That offensive success was sparked by a dominant rushing attack, with the Gophers racking up 175 yards on the ground by the break. As the Gophers’ offense found its footing, Maryland’s offense struggled with consecutive three-and-outs in the second quarter.

Feeding off the energy of its defense, Minnesota executed back-to-back seven-play touchdown drives, pushing the lead to 17-3 with 8:20 remaining in the first half. The Gophers combined for 154 yards on those drives, 114 of which came on the ground, consistently gashing Maryland’s defense.

Now trailing by 14 points, Maryland’s offense needed to respond and it did. Tagovailoa connected with freshman wide receiver Marcus Fleming on a 43-yard pass that set up a 13-yard rushing touchdown for redshirt senior running back Tayon Fleet-Davis.

That touchdown trimmed Minnesota’s lead to 17-10 with 4:05 remaining in the first half, which remained the score at the break due to sophomore Tarheeb Still’s aforementioned field-goal block. The Terps had a great opportunity to return the block for a touchdown, but senior cornerback Jakorian Bennett struggled to corral the ball.

Even with some momentum entering the second half, the Terps’ defense had no answers for Minnesota’s versatile ground game during the final 30 minutes.

After dropping its third consecutive game, Maryland will look to rectify its persistent issues while hosting Indiana on Saturday, Oct. 30.

“I just think guys just have to have pride,” sophomore wide receiver Rakim Jarrett said of how to bounce back. “Just be more desperate to win than being OK with losing. That’s it really, just have some pride. When you see three losses like this, it’s actually terrible in my opinion. We’re going to have to get to practice and get back to work.”

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox