Baltimore, MD—-Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, brother of the Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, went 32-for-41 passing for 314 yards, while Antwaine Littleton II ran 19 times for 120 yards and another score to send the Michigan State Spartans to their third straight loss on Saturday, 27-13, at the newly named SECU Stadium.
MSU quarterback Payton Thorne went 27-for-44 for 221 yards and a touchdown, but his offense finished with just 75 yards after halftime to Maryland’s 231. The Spartans (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten) managed just 316 yards of offense for the day while their defense gave up 489 yards and allowed the Terrapins (4-1, 1-1) to convert 7 of 17 third downs and 2 of 3 fourth downs. The Spartans never led in the game.
Maryland won the coin toss and opted to receive, and MSU appeared to catch a break with a penalty that forced the Terps to start at their own 7-yard line. But Tagovailoa directed a ball-control march from the start, slicing apart the Spartans’ secondary with a pair of long third-down conversion passes and another for 20 yards to running back Roman Hemby.
Facing fourth-and-1 at the MSU 19, Maryland went for it and running back Littleton powered for a 4-yard gain and a conversion. Littleton took the next carry around the left end for a 15-yard touchdown to cap a 12-play, 93-yard drive in 5:45.
The Spartans, who went three-and-out on their opening two possessions in three of their first four games, eventually answered. Thorne came out throwing and hit tight ends Tyler Hunt and Daniel Barker for 32 combined yards and receivers Keon Coleman and Jayden Reed for another 21 yards to get deep into Maryland’s territory. Senior running back Elijah Collins took over from there, using power for an 8-yard gain and following that with a shifty cutback and a burst of speed for a 15-yard touchdown run. Kicker Ben Patton, an Auburn transfer, made his debut with kicked the extra point to tie it, 7-7.
But Tagovailoa continued to assault the Spartans’ secondary, immediately responding with a 39-yard pass to wide-open tight end Corey Dyches when Maryland took over. A personal foul penalty called on MSU’s Justin White — who wasn’t on the field, but Tucker said the actual flag was meant for cornerback Chuck Brantley — it moved the Terps into the red zone, where running back Colby McDonald caught a 14-yard pass to set up his 2-yard TD run on the next play with 5:45 left in the first quarter.
MSU’s special teams started to melt down during the game leaving many points off the scoreboard. Thorne moved the offense into scoring territory early in the second quarter before the drive stalled at the Terps’ 16. Patton set up for a 34-yard field goal but shanked it wide right.
After the defense forced Maryland into a second straight three-and-out possession, Thorne again moved MSU down the field. He connected with Reed for an 8-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-13. But the snap from Hank Pepper went wide and left the Spartans trailing with 4:24 to go before the break.
Maryland again moved down field fast, a 13-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 5-yard score from Tagovailoa to Jarrett. The key play was a third-and-3 conversion on a botched play where the Terps QB hit tight-end CJ Dippre for 15 yards.
Thorne, though, pushed the pace in the hurry-up and got MSU back into field goal range. This time, Stone’s 45-yard field goal try was blocked as time expired, allowing Maryland to carry a 21-13 lead into half.
Everything changed after halftime. But the issues again proved too problematic for the Spartans to overcome.
MSU’s defense held Maryland to a 42-yard Chad Ryland field goal on the Terps’ first drive. Ryland, an Eastern Michigan transfer, also missed a 52-yarder late in the third quarter.
A obvious communication issue between MSU safety Kendell Brooks and cornerback Ameer Speed that resulted in a 68-yard run by Maryland’s Running back Littleton, who finished with 120 yards rushing, the MSU goal-line defense bowed up for the third time in three weeks and stopped Maryland on four straight run plays from the 2- and 1-yard lines. However, the Spartans’ offense couldn’t move past the 5 and punted in three plays. Ryland banged in a 51-yard field goal with 7:54 to play that made it 27-13.
Thorne got one more chance and moved MSU to the Terps’ 19 in a hurry-up offense. But nothing was open deep, and he eventually ran out of bounds on fourth-and-10 short of the sticks, which wouldn’t have mattered anyway because of a holding penalty that Maryland declined.
The Spartans only had six penalties for 47 yards and couldn’t take advantage of eight Terrapin flags for 71 yards.
Maryland will take on the Purdue Boilermakers at SECU Stadium for 12:00 P.M. start time.