Spartans limp into Michigan game with five straight losses
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Maryland first-year coach DJ Durkin looked into the eyes of his players and saw a confidence that had been missing over the past couple of weeks.
The Terrapins then took the field against Michigan State and had one of their most dominant performances.
Perry Hills threw a pair of touchdown passes in his return to the lineup and Maryland kept the Spartans winless in the Big Ten with a 28-17 victory Saturday night. It was the Terrapins first win over Michigan State since Oct. 7, 1950.
Maryland (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) also extended the Spartans’ losing streak to five games, the longest skid under 10-year coach Mark Dantonio.
"That was a fun night for our guys," Maryland first-year coach DJ Durkin said. "The message for our guys all week long, in particular later in the week, yesterday and today, was to have fun, enjoy this. This is a great opportunity. A night game. National TV. A program with great tradition who has had great success in our conference coming to town. We knew it was going to be a great atmosphere and it was."
Ty Johnson led Maryland’s dominant running attack with 115 yards on nine carries, while Lorenzo Harrison finished with 105 yards on 17 carries. The Terrapins amassed 447 total yards and bounced back from a pair of losses.
"Disappointing outcome," Dantonio said. "I thought we came into this football game prepared. The reality of this situation is too many missed opportunities on offense. Too many penalties on defense in the first half. It’s tough to win a football game when two guys run for a hundred yards on you."
Michigan State redshirt freshman Brian Lewerke got his second consecutive start and went 11 for 24 with 156 yards with an interception. He also ran for 79 yards on 10 carries. LJ Scott had a big day on the ground for the Spartans finishing with 128 yards and a touchdown.
"I think it was average," Lewerke said about his performance. "I think I skipped the pocket a little too much. I just need to get better."
Michigan State (2-5, 0-4) took its first lead, 17-14 on a 34-yard field goal by Michael Geiger with 1:35 left in the third quarter. Johnson continued to find a holes and a 44-yard run put Maryland into Michigan State territory. Two plays later, the Terrapins were back on top with a 2-yard run by Kenneth Goins Jr.
Hills put the game away with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Levern Jacobs with 3:23 left in the game. Hills, who suffered a shoulder injury Oct. 8 against Penn State and missed the previous game against Minnesota, was 21 of 27 for 200 yards Saturday.
"You shouldn’t look at this game as life or death, it’s a game," Hills said. "Everyone just had fun today."
Michigan State linebacker Riley Bullough was ejected with 4:39 left in the first quarter for targeting. That penalty helped Maryland extend a season-long 96-yard scoring drive, capped by Harrison’s 8-yard run.
The Spartans went up-tempo and pulled to within 8-7 on a 48-yard touchdown run by Scott with 9:42 left in the second quarter. Hills responded on the ensuing drive with a 36-yard pass to D.J. Moore but Adam Greene missed the PAT.
That allowed Michigan State to tie the game, 14-14, on a 1-yard run Gerald Holmes in the final minute of the half.
Maryland had a 96-yard scoring drive in the first quarter and another 90-yard drive just before halftime. It was the first time the Terrapins had two, 90-plus drives in the same game since Nov. 20, 1999, against Virginia.
Michigan State: The Spartans face an uphill battle for a 10th straight bowl appearance with the toughest part of the their schedule still ahead. Michigan State must still play No. 3 Michigan next week and No. 2 Ohio State (Nov. 19).
Maryland: After a 4-0 start, the Terrapins gained some much-needed momentum to avoid missing a bowl game for the second consecutive season. However, Maryland plays three ranked opponents (Michigan, Ohio State and No. 8 Nebraska) over its final five games.
Michigan State hosts No. 3 Michigan (7-0, 4-0) next Saturday. The Spartans stunned Michigan 27-23 last season when safety Jalen Watts-Jackson picked up a flubbed punt and ran 38 yards for the go-ahead touchdown on the final play of the game.
Maryland travels to Indiana on Saturday. The Hoosiers (3-4, 1-3) beat the Terrapins 47-28 last season and lead the all-time series 3-1.