Sat, Nov 26, 2022 2:38 PM
By NOAH TRISTER, AP Sports Writer
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Taulia Tagovailoa was impressive again, battling through his knee problems to pass for over 300 yards and a touchdown.
Not that Maryland needed a big offensive showing on this day.
The Terrapins held Rutgers to seven first downs and posted their first shutout over a conference opponent since joining the Big Ten, routing the Scarlet Knights 37-0 on Saturday.
“Obviously our defense has been improving all year long,” Maryland coach Michael Locksley said. "One of the things I really liked was just seeing the mental intensity of how we played a week ago against Ohio State, then being able to carry it over.”
After hanging tough in a 43-30 loss to the Buckeyes, the Terps had a much more manageable challenge this weekend. Jeshaun Jones had nine catches for 152 yards and a touchdown for Maryland, which snapped a three-game losing streak and completed its first seven-win regular season since 2014.
Rutgers (4-8, 1-8 Big Ten) finished its season on a five-game skid.
“I look forward to working with this team and getting to where we know we’re going to get to,” Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano said. “I’ve been here before. We’ll get it done. We’re going to get it done. It starts with me. I have to look at myself and I have to look at everything in this program and decide where we go, what direction, how we do things.”
Tagovailoa, who has dealt with knee problems this year, missed a few plays but still contributed plenty.
“My knee's good. It's the same thing," he said. "It's more so the top of the knee, when it hits something or when it lands on it, it just gets aggravated again.”
The Terps lost two fumbles in Rutgers territory in the first quarter, but after stopping the Scarlet Knights on fourth down near midfield, Maryland drove for the game's first touchdown, a 1-yard run by Hemby on the first play of the second.
Hemby added another 1-yard TD in the second and an 8-yarder in the third, and Chad Ryland kicked three field goals. Rutgers was shut out for the second time this season, having lost 31-0 to Minnesota in October.
This was Maryland's first shutout against a conference opponent since beating Wake Forest 26-0 in 2008, six years before the Terps began playing in the Big Ten. However, not many fans witnessed it in person. The announced attendance was 21,974, the lowest for Maryland since 1998, not counting the 2020 season that was impacted by the pandemic.
Tagovailoa threw a 27-yard touchdown to Jones in the fourth. It was his 50th TD pass, breaking a tie with Scott Milanovich for Maryland's career lead.
Rutgers: After going 5-8 in 2021, the Scarlet Knights finish with roughly the same record in their third season of Schiano's second stint at the helm. There were no real bright spots in this game. Rutgers was still under 100 yards of offense with under 10:00 remaining.
“It’s not like we took over the ’86 Giants here,” Schiano said. “There were things that had to be fixed, and we’re fixing them and we’re moving the program forward. That’s what we’ll keep doing.”
Maryland: It had been a disappointing November for the Terps, who lost to Wisconsin, Penn State and Ohio State in succession. They've taken their lumps when facing the Big Ten's elite, but they've also shown they can have success against other members of the league's middle class — and on Saturday they blew out one of the conference's weaker teams.
Dontay Demus became the seventh player in Terrapins history to reach 2,000 yards receiving in his career.
Jones set career highs in both receptions and yards receiving for a single game.
“My first recruiting job is to recruit Jeshaun to come back and play,” Locksley said. “He has another COVID year. I know it’s something that he’s entertaining.”
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights turn their attention to next season.
Maryland: The Terps await their bowl bid.
Follow Noah Trister at https://twitter.com/noahtrister
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