Indiana came into the matchup against Maryland following a loss to Michigan over homecoming weekend. Maryland entered the game off an equally demoralizing loss at home against Purdue in which a failed two-point conversion was the difference. While Indiana took the momentum and lead into the half in the battle of two teams looking to bounce back, it was Maryland who stole it back in the fourth quarter winning 38-33.
With 8:05 left in the fourth quarter, Maryland was about to go to fourth down when an unsportsmanlike conduct call against Indiana senior safety Devon Matthews gave it a new set of downs. Maryland redshirt freshman backup quarterback Billy Edwards Jr. took it himself for 31 yards down to the Indiana 3-yard line. Two plays later, Terrapin redshirt freshman running back Roman Hemby took it into the end zone on a six-yard run to make the score 31-27 in favor of Maryland.
“Very disappointing, that last drive where they ran the football, getting that call and then the long quarterback run,” Indiana head coach Tom Allen said. “I just don’t see that call being made in that situation.”
Indiana had struggled for much of the game to get Maryland redshirt junior starting quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa corralled, as he continued making throws on the run and moving the chains. Late in the game, Tagovailoa was hit and went down with an apparent knee injury, needing to be carted off the field. Allen touched on the different gameplan in place for a quarterback who does less lateral movement and more straight ahead running.
“We had a hard time getting Taulia on the ground, we wanted to limit explosive pass plays, he's really talented at that,” Allen said. “We just didn’t execute in my opinion on the back up.”
The Indiana defense was again without key contributors in senior linebacker Cam Jones and senior defensive back Jaylin Williams this week, as both were out with injury. Jones’ replacement, redshirt senior Aaron Casey, played well in the loss. Racking up 10 tackles, two forced fumbles, two tackles for loss and a sack. Even with forced fumbles, the defense couldn’t create enough turnovers. Maryland, on the other hand, came up with timely ones.
The Terrapins started the game with an interception on the Hoosiers’ first pass attempt, immediately converting it into a touchdown. Then to start the second half after going into the half down by a field goal, their defense again stepped up picking off Indiana junior quarterback Connor Bazelak’s first throw of the second half as well. The Terrapins scored 10 quick points in the third quarter to take a 24-17 lead. Then, with the score at 31-27, Maryland’s defense forced Indiana junior receiver Andison Coby to cough up the ball along the sideline resulting in another turnover which helped them put the game away.
“We are not getting enough turnovers and tackling hasn’t been up to standard,” Allen said.
In what was a debilitating loss for the Hoosiers, one positive was the improved offensive line play. Following the firing of the former offensive line coach Darren Hiller, the group played better against Maryland, gaining some push in the run game and keeping Bazelak more protected in the pocket.
“I thought the offensive line played solid, I saw some improvement without question,” Allen said. “I saw them look a lot better in pass protection.”
After losing their fourth game in a row, the Hoosiers falls below .500 at 3-4 on the season. Indiana now enters its toughest portion of the schedule with games against Penn State, Ohio State and Purdue coming up. With bowl eligibility in the balance, Indiana’s season could fall just short. The Hoosiers will face Rutgers next week at noon in their first away game since Oct. 1 at Nebraska.