Kevin Santo: One quarter and an exodus
A streak of red remained in section 12, if only because they were obligated to.
That group was the “Mighty Sound of Maryland” Marching Band. The scene around them, though, was far more depressing. There were a whole lot of empty seats. The ones that weren’t empty, well, fans clad in maize and blue primarily filled those.
And really, it’d be hard to blame the Maryland faithful for making the exodus after the second quarter that the Terrapins had.
“I felt like we definitely were clicking all together that first half,” said fifth-year senior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst. “It felt like everything was sort of working to our advantage. … I definitely saw us, at least in the first half, sort of clicking on all cylinders.
“We were doing a great job. I felt like we were a hard team to play against when we’re doing what we’re supposed to and everyone’s producing, scoring points, getting off the field. … That was the first time I’ve seen us click all together.”
Hurst isn’t wrong, but it started with a questionable decision. Maryland coach D.J. Durkin elected to fake a punt on 4th-and-7 from his own 30-yard line. The Terrapins trailed by just 14, and the Wolverines stopped the play firmly in its tracks.
Brandon Peters subsquently threw a touchdown pass.
On the next drive, the referee reversed a 29-yard pass to Taivon Jacobs, ruling that the Maryland receiver hadn’t maintained possession of the ball. It was Maryland’s best play of the game to that point, but things changed quickly in the second quarter Saturday night. Durkin didn’t dare fake another punt, and it didn’t matter. Josh Metellus barreled into the backfield, blocked the punt and Michigan recovered.
Peters completed a pass to the end zone again.
The Terrapins finally showed life on their next drive, only to see Ryan Brand get picked off by David Long — who returned the interception 80 yards.
There was no Peters touchdown pass this time. Quinn Nordin missed from 31 yards, and Maryland rushed twice for three yards to end the half.
So began the march toward the exits, and there was plenty of reason to leave.
After all, the majority of the cheering came after Quinn Nordin’s extra points flew, undeterred by a net, into the student section.
A year after being blown out by 56 in Ann Arbor, the Terrapins looked well on their way to a repeat occurrence at home.
And for one reason or another, Maryland made that easy — the Wolverines had to start only one drive in their half of the field.
“That’s big time for an offense,” said redshirt sophomore tight end Zach Gentry. “It gives us so much confidence just because we’re working on such a short field. Credit to our special teams and our defense there, because we got a short field a lot of times and it just led right to scores for the most part.”
Added sophomore cornerback David Long: “We’re always kind of like one play away. Our coach always talks about that, so we’re just trying to hone in on just winning every rep, winning every play. And so I think we really did that that second quarter.”
That they did, and to make matters worse, Eyabi Anoma — the top-ranked recruit in the state who has offers from both Maryland and Michigan — was at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium to see it all.
Anoma, however, may have seen one thing that those who left did not. Maryland outgained Michigan 228 to 93 in the second half, averaging 6.9 yards per play. That’s not to say the Wolverines didn’t deserve to win, because they undoubtedly did.
But the second half was ugly, and Michigan won its matchup in College Park during the second quarter.
Then again, there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, it was that quarter in which the Wolverines’ three phases came together in conjunction. And it was that quarter that left Maryland’s band look like an outlier among a sea of empty aluminum.
Santo can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Kevin_M_Santo.