Terps Fall to Huskies in Emotional Game

The Maryland Terrapins could not finish their last-minute rally against UConn, falling to 2-1.

Maryland head coach Randy Edsall held back tears after the Terrapins were handed a 24-21 loss by the Connecticut Huskies, the team that Edsall had led for the past decade.

“I can't fault the effort that our guys put forth today to have a chance to either tie or win the ball game in the end with all the mistakes and miscues that we had,” Edsall said. “I think it says a lot about the character, the perseverance, the belief these guys have in themselves and have in each other.”

“It sucks,” defensive end A.J. Francis said. “All three phases of the ball. We let the team down. Gave up a touchdown on special teams. Gave up two touchdown drives on defense that we had them on third down. Multiple times each drive we could have got off the field. And then on offense we had turnovers and made mistakes. All three phases. It just sucks man. I hate losing games.”

The Terps have not gone 3-0 since 2001 when Maryland finished 10-1, were crowned ACC Champions and played in the Orange Bowl, where they fell to No. 5 Florida.

The game got off to a sloppy start from both teams. Connecticut's first drive ended on a fumble when Huskies' quarterback Chandler Whitmer was stripped by Maryland linebacker Darin Drakeford on a quarterback keeper and recovered by Terrapin safety Eric Franklin. Maryland gave it right back to the Huskies on their next play when freshman quarterback Perry Hills threw an interception. The Terps' defense got the Huskies to punt on their next drive, but the punt was downed on the Maryland 3-yard line.

The Terps went three-and-out, forcing punter Nathan Renfro to punt out of Maryland's end zone. With both offenses going nowhere thus far in the game, it was punt returner Nick Williams who took the punt from Renfro 58 yards for the first score of the game. The extra point attempt was good, giving the Huskies a 7-0 lead. The Huskies struck again early in the second quarter, capping off their seven-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run from quarterback Scott McCummings extending Connecticut's lead to 14-0.

The Terps' offense finally began clicking on the following drive. The Terps decided to go for it on fourth down facing a fourth-and-5 on Connecticut's 37-yard line. An 18-yard catch and run by wide receiver Stefon Diggs kept the drive alive and running back Wes Brown, Diggs' high school teammate, scored on a 19-yard run to cut the Huskies' lead to 14-7 going into the half.

The Terps' offense cooled off in the third quarter and were unable to move the ball. Hills took a huge hit on one play and lost the ball, which was recovered by Connecticut's defensive tackle Angelo Pruitt at the Maryland 23-yard line. The Huskies were unable to find the end zone and settled for a 34-yard field goal.

The Terps fought back, scoring another touchdown off a 29-yard touchdown pass caught by Diggs. Hills was flushed out of the pocket by the Huskies' defense and threw the ball deep. The ball was tipped by wide receiver Marcus Leak and caught by Diggs in the end zone for the score. The Huskies had another touchdown from an 11-yard run from Lyle McCombs, but the Terps responded by piecing together a drive which Hills capped off with a 10-yard scramble into the end zone.

The Terrapins defense held the Huskies on offense and forced them to punt, giving the offense one last chance to either take the lead or tie the game with just under three and a half minutes to play. The Terps drove down to UConn's 35-yard line, but a dropped pass to an open Kevin Dorsey followed by a completion to Dorsey for a loss of four yards put the Terps in a fourth-and-18 situation. A deep heave into triple coverage was incomplete and the Huskies kneeled to end the game.

“We had momentum, just driving down, executing things. I would say it probably all went down with the pass that I missed,” Dorsey said. “If I got that and got out of bounds, we probably would have been able to, we still had two timeouts left, could have controlled the clock, run down, take the field goal and take the overtime and keep going and win the game.”

The Huskies defense stepped up big, holding the Terps' offense to 205 total yards. Hills completed only 10 of his 24 pass attempts for 109 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

“They brought the pressure and sometimes it was a combination sort of things,” Edsall said. “We got to get the ball out of our hands a little bit quicker. We got to be able to sustain blocks a little bit longer. But again, I think it was one of those things where they had a game plan that they wanted to put a lot of pressure on our young quarterback and we just have to do a better job, everybody, to pick those pressures up.”

The performance of Good Counsel products Wes Brown and Stefon Diggs were two of the positives the Terps could take from the loss. Brown ran for 74 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and Diggs finished the day with three receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown and had 166 special team yards.

“The one thing is that Stefon is a very dynamic player as you could see today,” Edsall said. “I love the kid. I love how he loves to practice. I love how he likes to compete. The guy has high energy. He's a leader. He's a competitor. He made a lot of big plays today.”

The Terps will travel to play the West Virginia Mountaineers next week.

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