Archive of football articles

Maryland Upsets Gophers 31-24
September 30, 2017

The underlog Universiy of Maryland football team traveled to Minnesota on September 30 and upset Minnesota, 31-24, raising questions about the Gophers hopes for success in the Big 10 West,

Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck before the season warned fans, at times indicating his team lacked experience, talent, and durability. All three were exposed in the Maryland defeat. Now people are likely to listen more closely to the coach’s observations.

“We didn’t deserve to win,” the coach said afterwards. “We’re not deep enough, and we don’t have enough talent. We weren’t good enough on first down. And we weren’t good enough on third down.

“On defense, we didn’t tackle well enough in space, and we couldn’t wrap up our tackles. We played poorly on offense, on defense, and on special teams. Too many mistakes… We had freshmen starting all over the place. We lost Antoine Winfield to injury…

“Maryland came in here and took it to us. We didn’t respond. These are the scars that are going to help us fail and grow.”

The Terrapins of Maryland came into TCF Bank Stadium and attacked the Gophers like snapping turtles and stopped Minnesota’s running game cold. Rodney Smith had only 43 rushing yards and Shannon Brooks 39.

“We threw the ball a little more this game because Maryland was putting eight or nine guys in the box and loading up the box on us,” Fleck said after the game.

That left it up to Conor Rhoda, a mediocre Big 10 quarterback at best to throw the ball to receivers Tyler Johnson, Eric Carter, Brandon Lingen, and newcomer Phillip Howard. He was successful only half the time, going 13 for 26. “Maryland gave us a bunch of different looks today to try and trick us,” Rhoda said. Apparently, the trick worked. Rhoda was intercepted twice, including a drive-stalling pick when Minnesota was driving at the Terrapin 15-yard line. A score by the Gophers would have put them in the lead, an accomplishment that eluded them throughout the contest.

Another key opportunity was missed after a Gopher advance to the Maryland 24-yard line in the third quarter. Emmitt Carpenter missed (wide left) a field goal attempt that would have drawn the Gophers within four points of the Terps.

Meanwhile, Maryland coach D.J. Durkin was starting at quarterback Max Bortenschlager, who was listed as the team’s preseason fourth-stringer behind Caleb Henderson, Tyrell Pigrome, and Kasim Hill.

The fourth-stringer played Minnesota like a fiddle, completing 18 passes, including a 27-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Moore for a 14-7 Maryland lead. He also ran for a TD from the Minnesota seven-yard line.

Minnesota exposed as deficient in areas not shown in victories over Buffalo, Oregon State, and Middle Tennessee. The Defense, particularly the secondary, was lacking and had no sacks. Offensively, Rhoda couldn’t handle the responsibility when the running game broke down.

Nevertheless, the Gophers managed to tie the game at 24 on a Brooks one-yard plunge with four minutes left in the game. The lead would not hold as the Terps marched 74 yards in eight plays, capped by a 34-yard touchdown run by Ty Johnson, who finished the game with 130 net rushing yards.

In the Big 10 East, Maryland poses as no threat to Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, and Michigan State. In the Big 10 West, the Gophers may have trouble staying ahead of Purdue and Illinois. Nevertheless a 6-6 record will get them a bowl berth.

Back to Main Page