COLLEGE PARK – Maryland safety Darnell Savage, Jr. knew exactly what to do during the final two minutes of the game. Head Coach D.J. Durkin sometimes starts practices with two-minute drills to create a sense of normalcy for late-game situations. As the Terrapin defense faced a fourth-and-10 with less than a minute remaining, Savage did […]
COLLEGE PARK – Maryland safety Darnell Savage, Jr. knew exactly what to do during the final two minutes of the game.
Head Coach D.J. Durkin sometimes starts practices with two-minute drills to create a sense of normalcy for late-game situations.
As the Terrapin defense faced a fourth-and-10 with less than a minute remaining, Savage did not hesitate. As Indiana wide receiver Luke Timian caught a pass from backup quarterback Richard Lagow at the 40-yard line, the 5-foot-10 junior sprung up and made a quick tackle, three yards short of a first down.
“The one thing you want to do is you do not want (the receiver) to get any yards after the catch, so you tackle them,” Savage, Jr. said. “I knew he cut the route a little short.”
Savage’s last-second tackle capped off a massive game where he ended with an interception and a blocked punt return for a touchdown. Together, with two passing touchdowns by sophomore quarterback Max Bortenschlager, the Terrapins celebrated homecoming by defeating Indiana, 42-39, to end a three-game losing streak.
Maryland (4-4) bounced back after struggling early, mustering just 47 yards of total offense, including negative-2 yards in passing. Indiana (3-5) scored on its first two drives, including a 34-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Peyton Ramsey to wide receiver Simmie Cobbs, Jr. Then, defensive lineman Allen Stallings, IV’s tackle on Maryland’s Ty Johnson for a safety gave the Hoosiers a nine-point lead.
However, Savage’s play gave the Terrapins a jolt. First, he intercepted Ramsey in the first quarter, which led to running back Lorenzo Harrison’s 14-yard touchdown run on the following play. In the second quarter, Savage broke free to block a punt and quickly picked up the loose ball and ran it back for a 16-yard touchdown.
“(Savage) has been tremendous for us all year long,” Durkin said. “He’s been consistent. He’s had several interceptions and that was obviously big for us and then, his blocked punt was big.”
Following Savage’s punt block, the Terps found their offensive footing, scoring back-to-back touchdowns before halftime to take the lead. Bortenschlager hit wide receiver D.J. Moore for a 2-yard touchdown pass with 37 seconds remaining, putting the Terrapins up by five.
Indiana reclaimed the lead in the second half with two scores on consecutive drives. First, Lagow threw for his first of two touchdowns, an 11-yard pass to wide receiver Whop Philyor. On the next drive, Indiana converted a 41-yard field goal to extend the lead to five.
While the offensive struggles returned in the third quarter, the defense and special teams stepped up for Maryland in the second half. With a blocked PAT in the first quarter and Savage’s blocked punt, running back Javon Leake exploded for an 82-yard kickoff, setting up the Terps in good field position. Sophomore Jake Funk’s 1-yard touchdown gave Maryland the lead.
Bortenschlager, who finished 10-for-16 for 171 yards, threw one of several deep passes to Moore for a 44-yard gain. The long competition allowed Funk to score his second, and Maryland’s game-winning, touchdown. In just his fifth start this season, Bortenschlager had his best rating (181) while averaging 17.1 yards per completion.
“We knew we could take some shots at them.We had to take advantage of them and we did that,” Bortenschlager said. “I’m pretty comfortable with the offense. I’m feeling more comfortable and confident in my decisions.”
Smiles and hugs surrounded the Maryland sideline after the final snap. It became the third game this season the Terps scored at least 40 points and their defense was able to complete big plays despite allowing 39 points.
“It’s easy to have fun when you are winning,” Savage said. “It definitely felt good to get back on the right track and it was just a good feeling to look at the stands and see the crowd. Just to see the looks of my teammates’ faces after you win, the look on Coach Durkin’s face, then you know it is a good feeling.”