Photo Courtesy: Maryland Athletics
Coming off a 3-9 season, the University of Maryland football team entered their 2020 season opener in Evanston, Illinois, looking to start a new journey with a roster filled with new faces in a shorten eight-game season.
However, it would look reminiscent of last year as Northwestern smothered the Terrapins on both side of the field as they lose open their season opener with a 43-3 road loss Saturday.
Before the game, head coach Mike Locksley officially announced his starters, leading the season with a pair of fresh faces in the backfield with Taulia Tagovailoa at quarterback and freshman running back Isaiah Jacobs.
The offense showed early promise as Maryland jumped to an early lead on a 33-yard field goal by Joseph Petrino. Tagovailoa showed poise early on as he completed six of his first seven passes in the opening drive.
After Maryland’s early score, the lead and any ounce of optimism for the Terrapins would be short-lived as Northwestern responded with a 14-play 75-yard drive resulting in a 1-yard touchdown run. Meanwhile, Tagovialoa threw two interceptions in consecutive possessions before the end of the first quarter.
Northwestern’s showering attack poured it on, scoring 43 unanswered points for the rest of the game. They entered halftime with a 30-3 lead.
“I feel like today I made a lot of mistakes that cost us the game,” said Tagovailoa, who finished with a 14-25 line with 94 passing yards and three interceptions.
Despite the struggles by Tagovailoa in his Maryland debut, Locksley said he has confidence in his quarterback and placed responsibility on all aspects of the team.
“(Tagovailoa) earned the right to be our starting quarterback,” said Locksley. “None of us, coaches included, played a good game or had a great game — offensively, defensively, special teams.”
In the one-sided affair, Northwestern more than doubled Maryland’s total yards, 537-207. More than half of the yards accumulated came from the Wildcats’ rushing attack as nine players rushed for a combined 325 yards.
Northwestern capped off their dominating offensive performance with Evan Hall’s 30-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter.
The Terrapins, meanwhile, were limited with their ground attack, only rushing for 64 yards and turn the ball over four times.
“For us to be a good team, we’ve got to play with great discipline,” Locksley said. “And playing with great discipline means protecting the football, and we didn’t do that today.”
For the Wildcats, the 40-point victory marked the program’s largest conference win since 2017 and the 100th win for head coach Pat Fitzgerald. It is the first time Maryland loses their season opener in 10 years.
With a short week ahead of them, the Terrapins return home to take on Minnesota. Ranked 21st in the nation, the Golden Gophers are coming off a 49-21 loss against Michigan. The game is scheduled for Friday at 7:30 p.m.