Gophers run out of Maryland 42-13 in Big Ten opener; Winfield out with foot injury
COLLEGE PARK, Md. A barrage of big plays rained down on the Gophers on Saturday afternoon, and the result was a 42-13 loss to Maryland in the Big Ten opener at Maryland Stadium.
The Terrapins (3-1) scored touchdowns on runs of 26, 81 and 64 yards, had a 54-yard TD pass and returned an interception 36 yards for a TD in dropping the Gophers to 3-1. Minnesotas offense sputtered for much of the day, gaining only 41 yards in the first quarter, twice settling for field goals after drives deep into Maryland territory and twice stopped on fourth down inside the Terrapins 10.
The loss carried an added price. Gophers safety Antoine Winfield Jr. left the game on the first series because of a left foot injury and did not return. His status wasnt immediately known at games end.
The Terrapins gashed Minnesotas defense for 315 yards on 37 carries, with Anthony McFarland rushing for TDs of 26 and 64 yards, and Ty Johnson breaking free for the 81-yarder. Johnson finished with 123 yards on 11 carries, while McFarland had 112 on six attempts. The Gophers entered the game allowing only 72 rushing yards per game.
Gophers true freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad was sacked four times struggled in his first road start, going 14-for-32 for 169 yards. He threw two interceptions, and Terps linebacker Tre Watson returned the first one 36 yards for a TD. The Terps also clamped down on Gophers wideout Tyler Johnson, the Big Tens leading receiver entering the game. Johnson didnt catch his first pass until 12 minutes remained in the game, and that reception was for minus-2 yards. He finished with two catches for 12 yards.
Maryland marched down the field on its opening possession, driving 75 yards in eight plays and taking a 7-0 lead on McFarlands 26-yard run. During the drive, Jeshaun Jones had a 27-yard gain on an end-around on its first possession, and quarterback Kasim Hill converted a fourth-and-2 to the Minnesota 34.
The Gophers got a first down on a pass interference penalty on their first possession, but Annexstad was sacked for an 8-yard loss on second down and threw incomplete while under heavy pressure on third down. On their second possession, the Gophers moved to midfield, but a third-down sack of Annexstad by Jesse Aniebonam forced a punt.
The Terps didnt take long to push the lead to 14-0. On second down from the 19, Johnson found a big hole and raced 81 yards for a touchdown.
The Gophers offense started moving on its third possession, with some help from the Terps. Facing fourth-and-2 from their 48, the Gophers called on Wildcat quarterback Seth Green, who bulled his way for 2 yards. Maryland defensive end Byron Cowart was penalized for a facemask, moving the ball to the 35. Annexstad hit tight end Ko Kieft for a 19-yard gain to the 15. But drive stalled with a couple of incomplete passes and a run for no gain by Ibrahim. Emmit Carpenters 33-yard field goal cut the Maryland lead to 14-3.
Midway through the second quarter, the Gophers appeared to have a 31-yard hookup between Annexstad and Chris Autman-Bell to the Maryland 25, but it was ruled incomplete after a replay review.
Maryland increased the lead to 21-3 with another big play. On third-and-5 from the Terps 46, Hill escaped from a Gophers blitz and found DJ Turner, who broke a tackle and went 54 yards for the touchdown with 4:43 left in the first half.
The Gophers cut the lead to 21-10 with 54 seconds left in the first half when Annexstad hit Bateman in the right edge of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown pass. Consecutive facemask and pass interference penalties on the Terps moved the Gophers to their 43. Annexstad then hit Bateman for a 29-yard gain to the Maryland 17, and two plays later they hooked up for the TD.
Minnesota got the ball to start the second half, but things went awry right away. Annexstad threw late over the middle, and Watson intercepted the pass and returned it 36 yards for a TD and 28-10 lead 46 seconds into the third quarter.
The Gophers followed with a drive to Maryland 23, but second- and third-down incompletions forced them to settle for Carpenters 41-yard field goal that cut the lead to 28-13 with 8:24 left in third quarter.
McFarland broke free for a 64-yard touchdown run and 35-13 lead with 6:27 left in the third quarter.
The Gophers drove to the Maryland 8 as the third quarter ended, but on fourth-and-4, Annexstad was sacked by Cowart, and the Terps recovered. With 9:04 left, the Gophers faced fourth-and-6 at the Terps 10, but Annexstad, under heavy pressure, threw an interception in the end zone to RaVon Davis.
Chigoziem Okonkwos 21-yard TD run with 1:12 left made it 42-13.