Minnesota freshmen run over Maryland in 34-16 romp | KSTP.com

Minnesota freshmen run over Maryland in 34-16 romp

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Updated: October 23, 2021 08:48 PM
Created: October 23, 2021 06:20 PM

Freshmen Ky Thomas and Mar'Keise Irving became the fourth and fifth different 100-yard rushers for Minnesota this season, as the Gophers gained 326 yards on the ground in a 34-16 trampling of Maryland on Saturday for their third straight victory.

Thomas (21 carries, 139 yards) and Irving (15 carries, 105 yards) each had one of four rushing touchdowns for Minnesota (5-2, 3-1), which moved into a first-place tie with Iowa in the Big Ten West Division. Purdue and Wisconsin are one game back.

Taulia Tagovailoa lost a fumble on the opening drive and completed 17 of 27 passes for 189 yards and a late touchdown to Marcus Fleming for the Terrapins (4-3, 1-3), who have lost three straight games by a combined score of 151-49.

Thomas, Irving and Bryce Williams, who rushed for 48 yards and a score, are the only healthy scholarship running backs left on the roster for the Gophers, who lost star Mohamed Ibrahim in the opener and backup Trey Potts three weeks ago to season-ending injuries.

Williams took the lead last week in a win over Nebraska, becoming the third player to top the 100-yard rushing mark this year. Thomas and Irving gave the Gophers the first pair of 100-yard rushers in the same games since Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks on Oct. 5, 2019, against Illinois.

Tanner Morgan went 8 for 12 for 125 yards passing, and backup quarterback Cole Kramer rushed for 30 yards and a touchdown. The Gophers didn't punt until 5:09 remained in the game.

In three losses to the Terrapins since coach P.J. Fleck arrived in 2017, the Gophers allowed an average of 39 points and 286 rushing yards. They beat the Terrapins handily in 2019 when they had six eventual NFL draft picks on their defense.

There was no lower moment for Minnesota in the virus-altered 2020 season than the 45-44 overtime loss at Maryland, when the Terrapins stacked up 675 total yards.

The Gophers have a vastly improved group on defense this year, entering the game ranked sixth in the FBS and second in the conference in fewest rushing yards allowed.

MOMENTUM SWING

The Terrapins literally kicked away a golden opportunity to make a game of it and force the Gophers to sweat out the second half.

After a touchdown run for Maryland by Tayon Fleet-Davis cut the lead to 17-10 with 4:05 left before halftime, Minnesota reached the 26-yard line with 1:09 remaining and called three consecutive up-the-middle running plays, before burning the last timeout and then calling another straight-ahead run.

Morgan spiked the ball to stop the clock, and Matthew Trickett’s 38-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Tarheeb Still. Still kicked the ball as he tried to pick it up on the run and dropped it on his second scoop attempt, allowing the Gophers to catch up and tackle Ahmad McCollough at the 32, well short of the tying touchdown.

FLAG FRUSTRATION

Maryland coach Mike Locksley has lamented all season his team's propensity for penalties, and the sloppiness persisted with eight flags for 79 yards, and many of them were especially costly. The Terrapins even got an illegal substitution penalty during a punt, whistled for having two players wearing No. 99 on the same play.

THE TAKEAWAY

Maryland: Tagovailoa, who is missing top wide receivers Dontay Demus Jr. and Jeshaun Jones to season-ending injuries, never found a rhythm after the early turnover. The Terrapins had six drops, including three by tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo, and Tagovailoa was sacked twice. Last year against Minnesota, he passed for a career-high 394 yards and accounted for five touchdowns.

Minnesota: The Gophers have recovered well from their baffling loss here four weeks ago that now stands as Bowling Green's only win over an FBS opponent in 15 tries since Nov. 2, 2019. This team has its limits, but the strength of this offensive line can go a long way toward keeping the Gophers in play for their first Big Ten championship game berth. The eventual winner of the underwhelming West Division could easily wind up with two or three conference losses.

UP NEXT

Maryland: Hosts Indiana next Saturday.

Minnesota: Plays at Northwestern next Saturday.


(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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