Rutgers went on the road to College Park, Maryland for their annual matchup with their Big Ten East rival. The teams exchanged punts on the first two drives and the early stars were the two punters. Adam Korsak flipped field position but Will Lees, the 30 year old junior for Maryland pinned RU at the one and then the six yard line. Despite being pinned back, Rutgers got a few yards and Korsak kicked one to the Maryland 14 yard line. On the 5th play of the series, a second and six from the Maryland 35 with under a minute to play in quarter one, Ty Johnson got loose for a 65 yard touchdown where he may not have been touched.
Showing no respect, Maryland recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff. The Rutgers defense to their credit dug in and held the Terps to a field goal. So at the end of one quarter of play, it was a 10-0 deficit for the Scarlet Knights.
After that, things went south quickly as Sitkowski was intercepted for the first time on the day, a third down and 8. Maryland cashed in with a nice 23 yard touchdown to the corner of the end zone. Taivon Jacobs got a little separation and a perfect throw beat decent coverage.
A Rutgers punt was turned into another Maryland touchdown drive that was only six plays for 70 yards, aided by a 39 yard burst from Ty Johnson who again was not touched until well downfield. With it now 24-0, Rutgers failed to gain a yard and was forced to punt.
Last week Rutgers did produce some positive moments, but outside of Mike Tverdov’s forced fumble, there were very few others today. This was the highlight of the game for RU as Tverdov came around the outside and delivered huge hit on the QB. Then Mike outwilled the offensive lineman who was recovering, the QB, and an RU teammate (I think Olakunle Fatukasi) to snag the loose ball. So RU got the rock, down 24-0 with 2:57 left in the first half at the Maryland 21, and would receive the second half kickoff. I hoped RU would score that we would see the identical 24-7 count to the previous two games with a chance for Rutgers to finally get something going.
Of course, as was the story of the game, RU could not maintain momentum for even one play as Sitkowski’s wide receiver screen pass was batted at the line and intercepted, his second INT of the game. Maryland could not score again before half and it was 24-0 going to intermission.
The issue Rutgers has, continuing to fall behind so far so early that the offense has to abandon the run game bit them once. More to come on this though because this is where John McNulty deserves some blame this week even though I could understand trying this tactic in other games this season. Jay Niemann didn’t have a great game either but ...
The Rutgers defense did not play well, but this loss is not on them. They faced bad field position time and time again due to the turnovers. Although I would never advocate a defense quitting, this and the 78-0 Michigan debacle of 2016 would be the closest two times where you almost couldn’t blame them.
Rutgers received the second half kick, but quickly went three and out. Maryland went 9 plays for 73 yards including some huge holes to make it 27-0. And yet, then it somehow got worse.
After Maryland kicked a field goal to go up 27-0, Sitkowski was just 2 of 12 for 8 yards with two interceptions. But as was true most of the day, even when Art did make a perfect throw on first down, Travis Vokolek dropped it on what would have been a nice gain. Then Art was hammered before he could even complete his dropback when he tried to flare one to Eddie Lewis on a hot route setting up a third and long. Rutgers threw again on third down and Sitkowski was intercepted for the third time in the game as he underthrew Shameen Jones who fell down and was unable to try and bat the ball away. Only a tackle by Tariq Cole (see what I did there?) saved a Art from it going for a pick six. Cole’s effort didn’t end up mattering as Maryland got a nice touchdown throw and catch in the back corner of the end zone on a third down to go up 34-0.
So now Art was 2 of 15 for 8 yards, and three interceptions that went for 44 yards. On the other side, Terp QBs were just 8 of 18 for 76 yards, 3 TDs, and zero INTs. But Maryland had run for 262 yards, while RU only had 44 on the ground at that juncture. Rutgers had 52 yards of offense, while they had been gifted 45 by personal fouls on the Maryland defense. Ty Johnson alone had 132 yards of total offense for Maryland. Johnson went over 4,000 yards all-purpose in his career, which should be noted.
And yet it got worse, Sitkowski threw his fourth interception on a second and nine on the ensuing drive. So now he had completed four balls to players in Maryland jerseys while only two to Knights in white. I keep writing this because it was just comical at this point.
After that, the biggest positive AGAIN was Isaih Pacheco who ran through a bunch of arm tackles. Pacheco was inserted a series or two before Giovanni Rescigno replaced Sitkowski, but regardless of who was under center, Isaih was running well. Gio can still break a few tackles, but for some reason he is not nearly as fast carrying the ball as he was the last two seasons. Raheem Blackshear was not featured as much as you’d expect, but could not get much going at all. At the end of the third quarter, Raheem had just 6 carries for 14 yards and one (of the team’s two) receptions for 4 yards (also half the team’s total).
Rutgers moved the ball a little at the beginning of the fourth, but Giovanni Rescigno’s first pass attempt was intercepted for the Scarlet Knights’s FBS leading 21st turnover. It was the third consecutive pass attempt by Rutgers that was intercepted.
Maryland was looking for their first shutout since 2013, but Isaih Pacheco and Trey Sneed pounded the rock behind a surprisingly lively offensive line. I didn’t have the four deep for Maryland in front of me, but I think it was the third string defense for Maryland that allowed a touchdown to Pacheco with 43 seconds to play. When all was said and done, Pacheco had 107 of the team’s 181 offensive yards.
Rutgers is now 1-6 overall and 0-4 in Big Ten play, with only one of those losses being close in the 4th quarter. Maryland is now 4-2 on the campaign under interim coach Matt Canada.
The Scarlet Knights will host Northwestern on homecoming next weekend at noon before a bye week. Then the brutal November schedule kicks in and things will likely only get worse.
I’ll leave you with one thought, imagine how bad these scores would be if Rutgers did not have a guy who never played a game of organized football before this year in Adam Korsak?