There are any number of plays to point to during Maryland’s 32-31 loss to Middle Tennessee to dissect.
The fumbles. The naked bootleg gone awry. The Blue Raiders’ game-winning march in the final minute.
But how about the play just before Middle Tennessee began its scoring drive in the end-game. Maryland faced a fourth-and-2 at the Blue Raider 25. The Terps had just rattled off gains of 12 and 10 on the previous two plays.
And with 1:35 left, Maryland needed two yards to effectively end the game.
“I contemplated going for it on fourth-and-2,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I knew they were out of timeouts. I just didn’t know how much clock it would burn because on the change of possession, if we didn’t make it, the clock stops. It might only be five seconds. If we make the first down, the game’s over. But if we don’t make the first down, now a field field goal can beat you. So I decided to go with the field goal.”
Most of that makes sense. Not really the part about the clock, because the clock was stopping after that play regardless of the outcome —- it would be dead on a loss of downs, made field goal, missed field goal, and would halt as the chains were moved on a first down.
But otherwise, Friedgen is correct. A field goal would have put Maryland up five and forced Middle Tennessee to score a touchdown.
In any case, it’s also clear there were discussions to give it a go on fourth down. Those are more significant now since Nick Ferrara pushed a 42-yarder right, handing possession back to the Blue Raiders with 90 seconds left.
“A lot of talk,” James Franklin said. “As offensive coordinator, you know what I wanted to do. But coach Friedgen is right. With the point spread and the situation we were in, going for the field goal was the right situation.”
Quarterback Chris Turner wasn’t surprised by Friedgen’s choice.
“It was a long two,” Turner said. “I didn’t think we’d go for it. If I was a head coach, I wouldn’t have gone for it. Nick’s been pretty good all year. He’s still young, though, and it was a good kick. It was just a little right.”
And just one more play for the Terps to consider as they ponder everything that went down at Byrd last night.
—- Patrick Stevens