Taulia Tagovailoa rallies Maryland football past Minnesota

Tagovailoa led a stunning fourth-quarter comeback, bringing the Terps back from a 17-point deficit to force overtime. In the extra perio...



Tagovailoa led a stunning fourth-quarter comeback, bringing the Terps back from a 17-point deficit to force overtime. In the extra period, his two-yard run gave Maryland a seven-point lead. The Golden Gophers scored on their first overtime possession, but Brock Walker’s extra point floated wide right at Capital One Field and the Terps had their first win — and Tagovailoa’s first as the team’s starting quarterback.

Tagovailoa played with poise and precision in the game’s decisive moment. He opened the Terps’ overtime drive with a 12-yard pass to Jeshaun Jones, and he closed it with the scoring run, the fifth touchdown he accounted for on the evening.

Tagovailoa completed 26 of 35 passes for 394 yards with three touchdowns. He also ran eight times for 64 yards and two scores. He had an interception in the second quarter on a tipped ball but navigated pressure with ease throughout the night, playing from behind for all but the final minutes of the second half.

The Terps’ defense struggled all night, but the unit mustered a pair of third-down stops to give Maryland a chance late. After falling behind, 38-21, senior running back Jake Funk (a career-high 221 rushing yards) tied the game with a 19-yard run and 3:38 remaining. But again, the defense stopped Minnesota on the Gophers’ final drive to force overtime.

The game marked the first time in Maryland history that the team had a 300-yard passer and a 200-yard rusher in the same game.

Tagovailoa, who was intercepted three times in his debut last week at Northwestern, was sharp from the start. Early in the game, he threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Jones. Later, he evaded two defenders and scored on a 39-yard run as Maryland built a 21-7 first-quarter lead.

Minnesota, however, rallied, helped when a screen pass from Tagovailoa was tipped by a Minnesota defender before landing in the hands of defensive lineman DeAngelo Carter. The Gophers promptly scored, narrowing the Terps’ early lead and beginning Minnesota’s stretch of 31 consecutive points.

Coach Michael Locksley previously called Tagovailoa’s performance in Evanston a case of “first-start jitters,” and when Tagovailoa committed the turnover against Minnesota, he did not let his performance dip. The Terps had to overcome costly mistakes. They finished the game with 10 penalties for a loss of 97 yards.

The Terps attempted a field goal just before halftime, which would have ended the extended scoreless run, but Joseph Petrino’s try bounced off the upright. Maryland turned the ball over twice, and the offensive line allowed a third-down sack for a loss of 16 yards when the Terps had entered the red zone down by 10 points with about seven minutes left. But Petrino made a career-long, 51-yard field goal to narrow Minnesota’s lead to 38-31.

Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan only attempted 15 passes, completing 10, including a 39-yard touchdown pass to Chris Autman-Bell. On that drive, Maryland pushed Minnesota into a tricky third-and-14 situation, but then defensive lineman Mosiah Nasil-Kite was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. Two plays later, Autman-Bell’s acrobatic grab handed Minnesota a 35-21 lead.

Facing that 14-point deficit in the third quarter, Tagovailoa led Maryland through a 85-yard drive. But with first-and-goal from the 1-yard line, freshman running back Peny Boone fumbled in the end zone and Minnesota recovered the ball.

The Gophers continued to plow through Maryland’s defense, and Minnesota didn’t need Morgan to orchestrate a flashy performance. Mohamed Ibrahim, a Baltimore native and former Good Counsel standout, took care of that. He finished the game with 207 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Facing a strong offensive line, Maryland’s defense, which also struggled against Northwestern’s rushing attack, had no answer for Ibrahim. The Terps’ unit started the game well, forcing the Golden Gophers to punt after gaining only six yards. The defense regressed until it found its footing late in the game.

But Tagovailoa’s performance negated the defensive trouble that persisted through much of the game. With the game on the line, he continued to impress, all the way until he dove into the end zone when the Terps needed a quarterback who could deliver in the game’s critical moment.

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Newsrust: Taulia Tagovailoa rallies Maryland football past Minnesota
Taulia Tagovailoa rallies Maryland football past Minnesota
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