COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- A big day by Ty Johnson and big plays all around propelled Maryland to a 31-13 victory over Rutgers Saturday afternoon at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium.
The victory is the sixth of the season for the Terps (6-6, 3-6 Big Ten), making them bowl eligible in head coach DJ Durkin’s first season in College Park.
Johnson led the way for the Terrapins rushing for 168 yards on 11 carries, including runs of 55 and 47 yards. Overall, eight Maryland rushers gained 318 yards on 45 carries; the team’s third highest rushing total of the season.
Maryland opened the game with a 35-yard kick off return by DJ Moore, but the big plays were just beginning. It took the Terps just two plays, both runs by Kenneth Goins Jr., to go 55 yards to open up a 7-0 lead on the Scarlet Knights just 47 seconds into the game. After gaining 9 yards on his first carry, Goins’ second run went for a career-best 46 yards for the score.
The Maryland defense forced Rutgers to punt on its first two possessions and the Terrapins’ special teams made the Scarlet Knights pay on the second one. Michael Cintron got away a 48-yard punt to the waiting Teldrick Morgan, who took a hit right as he caught the ball. Morgan didn’t go down, however, and proceeded to weave through a couple of Scarlet Knight tacklers and then just out-ran the rest of Rutgers’ squad down the left sideline for an 83-yard return for a TD.
Morgan’s return for a score was Maryland’s first punt return for a TD since William Likely took one back 85 yards for a score on Sept. 12, 2015 vs. Bowling Green.
After a missed 46-yard field goal by the Terps’ Adam Greene, the Maryland defense looked to have stopped the Scarlet Knights again, but an offsides penalty on a 4th-and-3 gave Rutgers a first down. The Knights then marched the ball down to the Maryland 1-yard line where Robert Martin punched it in for the score to make it a 14-7 game with 10:42 remaining on the clock.
The big play was Maryland’s best weapon on its next scoring drive. Once again it was Morgan getting things started with a 25-yard punt return to set the Terps up at midfield. Perry Hills connected with Levern Jacobs on a 25-yard completion, which setup a 28-yard scoring run by Tyrrell Pigrome with 5:09 left in the first half to give Maryland a 21-7 lead.
The big plays continued on the Terrapins’ ensuing drive as Ty Johnson ripped off a 55-yard run down the right sideline to the Rutgers’ 15-yard line. However, the drive ended with a missed 34-yard field goal.
The Scarlet Knights took over with 1:38 remaining and looked to cut into Maryland’s lead before halftime with at least a field goal as they moved the ball down to the Terps’ 34-yard line. But, Maryland’s defense rose to the occasion as Jesse Aniebonam sacked Rutgers quarterback Giovanni Rescigno for a loss of 12 yards to end the threat on the final play of the first half.
The big plays continued into the third quarter and the Maryland defense got into the act on the opening drive of the second half. With Rutgers marching down the field, the Scarlet Knights took a shot down the left sideline with a pass to Justin Goodwin. Goodwin managed to haul in the 30-yard completion, but Jermaine Carter Jr. ripped the ball out on the 6-yard line and recovered the fumble.
Rutgers cut into Maryland’s lead with 4:48 left in the third quarter on a 28-yard TD run by Goodwin. The score would stay at 21-13 thanks to Chandler Burkett blocking the extra-point attempt.
Maryland responded with another big play from Ty Johnson, who dashed 47 yards up the middle on the Terps’ first play of their ensuing drive. After a 10-yard run by Johnson got the ball down to the Rutgers’ 18-yard line. DJ Moore took an end-around for 15 yards to the 3. Andrew Stefanelli capped off the 5-play, 75-yard drive with his a 1-yard plunge for his first career TD.
Rutgers looked to cut into Maryland’s lead in the fourth quarter and had the ball into Terrapin territory, but the Terps’ defense held steady. Carter ended the dive with a 13-yard sack of Rescigno on a 4th-and-8 giving the ball back to the Terrapin offense on the Rutgers’ 42-yard line with 6:51 left to play.
The Terps tacked on some insurance as Mike Shinsky knocked a 41-yard field goal through the uprights with 2:56 remaining to make it a 31-13 Terrapin lead.
Carter led the defensive effort with 15 total tackles, including a pair of sacks, two-and-a-half tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Shane Cockerille added 10 stops, including a tackle for loss.
Maryland will learn its postseason destination on Sunday, Dec. 4 when bowl pairings are announced.