Gophers Fall Flat in Conference Opener, Lose 42-13 at Maryland
September 22, 2018

A promising 3-0 start through nonconference play dissipated into an agonizing conference opener for the Minnesota Gophers, who were roughed up and outplayed in a 42-13 loss to the Maryland Terrapins before a crowd of 36,211 in College Park.

Second-year coach P. J. Fleck again had a perfect nonconference record before losing to Maryland. Last year, in Minneapolis, the Terrapins won 31-24, led by fourth-string quarterback Max Bortenschlager, who now serves as the team’s holder on place kicks.

Freshman Kasim Hill ran the offense for the Terrapins, completing 10 of 14 passes for 117 yards and a touchdown. However, it was the ground game in which Maryland dominated. Ty Johnson ran for 123 yards, 81 of them on a first-quarter touchdown that put Maryland ahead 14-0. Freshman Anthony McFarland has 112 yards on six carries. One was for a 26-yard touchdown run on the opening drive of the game. In the third quarter, he burst through a hole and turned on the jets, outracing a depleted Gophers secondary for a 64-yard scoring run.

Maryland’s speed and strength was evident on defense as Minnesota freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad faced his first pressure of the season. He was sacked four times while completing 14 of 32 passes for 69 yards. In the final minute of the first half, he completed a 17-yarder to Rashod Bateman for a touchdown that pulled the Gophers to within 21-10.

However, in the opening minute of the second half, Annexstad threw right into the hands of linebacker Tre Watson, who returned the pick 36 yards for a touchdown. Watson had 8 of his game-high 11 tackles in the second half, including one sack.

Minnesota got field goals of 33 yards and 41 yards from Emmit Carpenter after drives stalled, and twice in the second half it was unable to convert on fourth-down plays inside the Maryland 10.

Minnesota cornerback Kiondra Thomas did not play due to injury and its best player on defense, safety Antoine Winfield, injured his foot on Maryland’s opening drive and did not return. Antonio Shenault started in place of Thomas, and freshman Jordan Howden took Winfield’s place.

Although the Gophers had a greater time of possession, the Terrapins dominated at the line of scrimmage and outgained the Gophers, 432 to 263 yards.

Hill’s only touchdown pass came in the second quarter when he escaped a blitz and found D. J. Turner, who broke Jacob Huff’s tackle and made it a 54-yard scoring play.

Maryland had started its season with two wins, including a 34-29 victory over 23rd ranked Texas, before being embarrassed at home by a 35-14 loss to Temple. The Terrapins go on the road to play 19th ranked Michigan before returning home for a game against lowly Rutgers.

Minnesota has a week off before its homecoming game against Iowa.

Gopher Tales: Matt Canada is serving as interim coach while D. J. Durkin is on administrative leave while the school examines the culture of the football program. It also investigated the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who died June 13 after being hospitalized with heat stroke during a team workout two weeks before. The day before the Minnesota game, an independent investigation determined that the school did not follow proper procedures after McNair collapsed on the field May 29. Durkin was placed on leave in August after reports that the coaching staff engaged in physical and mental abuse of the players. McNair’s number, 79, is painted on the field in several places surrounding the gridiron. . . . Maryland’s stadium, opened in 1950, is now called Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. A 2016 name change removed the name of Harry “Curley” Byrd, a Maryland athlete, coach, teacher, and university president who was a segregationist. . . . Maryland won despite 10 penalties for 118 yards. Minnesota was penalized only once, for 15 yards, when Carter Coughlin was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on Maryland’s final drive.

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