Terps fail to capitalize against Clemson
Clemson 40, Maryland 27
COLLEGE PARK--Homecoming games are supposed to be played against teams like North Valley Technical State College, right? Those are the ones you can knock around like a junior varsity team, notch a 30-point win, and send the alumni home with something to feel good about.
Maryland didn’t seem to get the memo Saturday afternoon in College Park.
Welcoming No. 9 Clemson to town for homecoming weekend, the injury-depleted Terrapins stuck with the Tigers for longer than many expected in a 40-27 loss at Byrd Stadium.
Maryland kept Clemson at bay for much of the game, locked in a 19-13 game as the fourth quarter got underway.
But a fumble by Maryland running back Albert Reid set Clemson up in scoring position early in that quarter and they capitalized, making it 26-13 and out of reach of the struggling Terrapins.
Clemson and Maryland would both add fourth-quarter scores to arrive at the final, 40-27.
Led by sophomore Caleb Rowe, who got his second start of the season in place of the injured C.J. Brown, Maryland stuck with Clemson in the first half and trailed just 16-7 at the break.
Rowe’s biggest play of the game set the tone early, throwing a short pass across the middle to Levern Jacobs, who took it 71 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-3.
Rowe, bothered by Clemson’s consistent pass rush, finished 20-of-46 for 287 yards and added three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Much of the first-half credit goes to a defense that bent but did not break, holding Clemson to three field goals and just one touchdown on four red-zone trips in the first half.
The second half brought more strong Maryland defense. After forcing a three-and-out on Clemson’s first drive, Matt Robinson forced a fumble while tackling Clemson’s Sammy Watkins, which led to a Maryland field goal that cut the deficit to 16-10.
Another Clemson fumble on the next drive gave Maryland another short field, but another field goal to trim the Tigers’ lead to 16-13.
With 14:02 remaining in the fourth quarter and Clemson leading by a manageable margin, 19-13, Terrapins running back Albert Reid bounced a rush to the outside.
As he was being tackled, he fumbled and the ball was scooped up by Spencer Shuey to give the Tigers a chance to create separation by starting their drive at the Maryland 22-yard line.
Tajh Boyd punched in a touchdown on a quarterback draw to give Clemson a 26-13 lead. That touchdown was the 112th of his college career, tying the ACC record held by former NC State quarterback Philip Rivers.
Maryland’s Isaac Goins would intercept a pass to give the Terrapins another shot in enemy territory, but the sputtering offense only produced late and when the score was ultimately already decided.
Sammy Watkins, Clemson WR (14 receptions, 163 yards)
Watkins, arguably the ACC’s best receiver, looked like one of the conference’s best on Saturday. He set a school record with 14 catches and amassed 163 yards.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd made a living underneath against the weakened Maryland linebacking corps and secondary, finding Watkins on a variety of button screens and short, over-the-middle passes while Maryland defended against big plays deep.
TERPS OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Levern Jacobs, wide receiver (6 receptions, 131 yards, 1 TD)
The 71-yard catch-and-run by Jacobs gave Maryland life early in the game and he became Rowe’s favorite target throughout the afternoon.
With both Stefon Diggs and Deon Long out, he did many Diggs-ian things, finding space over the middle and running after the catch. Clemson’s pass rush, though, was consistently in the Maryland backfield and keeping Rowe uncomfortable, which stopped him from producing more than he did.
TERPS DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE GAME
Maryland’s Red-Zone Defense (7 Clemson trips = 4 FGs, 3 TDs)
Maryland’s ability to bend but not break early in the game and heading into the fourth quarter compensated for an offense that couldn’t find its footing.
Reid’s turnover appeared to be the straw that finally broke the camel’s back, as the floodgates opened after that point.
Maryland has a bye week before welcoming Syracuse to College Park on Nov. 9.