Piscataway, N.J. —It didn’t take long, the Terrapins jumped all over the Scarlet Knights at SHI Stadium to a tune of 40-16.
The Terrapins looked like a well oiled machine in the first half, with the win it secured a trip to a bowl game for the first time since 2016.
After the victory, Maryland players and coaches gathered in the end zone with the large video SHI Stadium behind them and took a team photograph with the score showing.
“We’ve been through so much as a team,” quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa said. “To make it to a bowl game, that’s what Coach Locks talks about, taking the next step. We want to be the team to do that. Not next year. Not the following year.”
Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa became the all-time leader in passing yards in a season in Terp history, Fleet-Davis ran for 152 yards on the ground and two scores as well as 33 receiving yards, Maryland’s offense kept the Scarlet Knights’ defense off balance all game long.
“I knew for a fact I didn’t want this to be my last game,” Fleet-Davis said.
Tagovailoa had help with the assault with Rakim Jarrett, the top wide receiver remaining after injuries. Jarrett gained 111 yards on seven catches , and tight end Corey Dyches had a big day with touchdowns on two catches.
Rutgers was in trouble before stadium had a chance to completely fill, the Terps had driven the length of the field for touchdowns on its first two possessions jumping out to a 20-2 lead by the break. Rutgers’ anemic offense showed signs of life in the second half but never trimmed the deficit below double digits.
RU threatened after the break, trimming Maryland’s lead to 26-16 after a long kickoff return set up a touchdown, but their next possession ended at the Maryland 44-yard line when back-up quarterback Evan Simon threw an incompletion on fourth down. The Terps responded with a Fleet-Davis touchdown run, the Scarlet Knights tried to cut into the lead but couldn’t get anything going offensively. Maryland came up big with a goal-line stand on fourth down, sealing the victory.
“We pride ourselves in our run defense,” Sam Okuayinonu said. “We just had to show it right there on that fourth down. We said, `buckle up, let’s go get it, who wants it more.’”
The Maryland game always looms as an important measuring barometer. They’re a geographical rival, with the two schools recruiting many of the same areas and recruits, while they arrived in the Big Ten together in 2014.
If nothing else, RU needed this game for bragging rights and that didn’t happen, in a game that was critical to the development of the Scarlet Knights’ program.
“It’s important that we all recognize that we are growing we are building,” said Schiano, whose eight wins over the past two seasons are one less than the team had between 2016-19.
Coach Michael Locksley called it a Christmas Card photo players could send in less than a month. It was more than that. It was a sign Maryland (6-6, 3-6 ) is turning the corner in the Big Ten Conference.
Maryland: The Terps will wait until next Sunday to find out what bowl has selected them.