The long-awaited rematch of the year had finally come to College Park, Maryland on Saturday. No, it wasnt Florida State, Boston College, or any another challenging ACC foe that Maryland sought revenge after. It was Middle Tennessee State. Yes, Middle Tennessee State-the small school from the south that seems to give the Terps fits every time they meet. Saturday was no exception.
The first quarter got the Terps off on the right foot as Maryland running back DaRel Scott got the fans fired up with a 48-yard run for an early score. That long run may have been one of the only bright spots for the young speedster.
After a few Maryland turnovers, and two Blue Raider scores (with a failed PAT attempt), Middle Tennessee State found themselves up 13-7 over the Terps with little time left in the first half. The Terps went on an impressive late-half drive only to have a 32-yard Nick Ferrara field goal blocked. That didnt stop those hardnosed Terps who recovered Middle Tennessee State quarterback Dwight Dashers fumble and, a few plays later, converted a Davin Meggett touchdown that put Maryland up 14-13 going into the half.
Turner looked absolutely brilliant on the first drive for Maryland in the second half, finishing off the drive with a beautiful 37-yard throw to wide receiver Torrey Smith. But it didnt take MTSU to strike back as they shrunk Marylands lead to 21-20 with a 4-yard run by Desmond Gee. The third quarter ended with yet another DaRel Scott fumble (his third) and a MTSU 27-yard field goal which meant that the Blue Raiders would be leading going into the final 15 minutes.
The fourth quarter was filled with excitement and anticipation. Chris Turner looked impressive again with a 64-yard pass to his favorite target, Torrey Smith. This put Maryland up 28-23, and it looked as though the Terps had found their stride and were going to cruise to victory. Its too bad the Blue Raiders didnt get the memo that they were supposed to lose. This MTSU team didnt go down without a few late punches that suddenly turned into a Dwight Dasher 32-yard thing of beauty that landed in the welcoming arms of MTSU receiver Garrett Andrews. After the two-point conversion failed, the Terps had some work to do now that they were down by one point and time was not on their side.
Freshman kicker Nick Ferraras 42-yard bomb of a kick put the Terps up 31-29, and it seemed like the Terps were going to ride off with another exciting victory. That is, until he had a chance to ice the game completely. When Ferrara set in to kick another late quarter field goal that would have forced the Blue Raiders to score a touchdown to win rather than a field goal, he couldnt deliver, as the kick sailed slightly wide. This meant that the Terps defense had the game on their shoulders. Sadly, the tired defense let MTSU drive down the field and take the game after a field goal with 2 seconds remaining. Game over.
Chris Turner overall played as conservative an offense as we have seen so far this year. His 288 yards on 19/30 attempts with 2 touchdowns looked impressive, but the interception turned out to be quite costly. DaRel Scott has a lot of soul-searching to do if he wants to stay the starting running back. Three fumbles just cannot happen for the ACC stud runner.
Watching from the stands, one fan stood out as he continuously yelled, Whos surprised? Obviously Maryland considered last years loss to Middle Tennessee State to be a fluke, a stroke of luck, or even an accident on the Terps behalf. Not a single person, with the exception of this spirited fan, predicted that Maryland would lose for the second straight year to the Blue Raiders of MTSU. It will be interesting to see how Coach Friedgen and the Terps react to their 1-2 start. One thing is safe to say; fumbles and late game interceptions, things that plagued the Terps over the past two weeks, cannot take place, or else the Terps may be looking at a pretty disappointing season.