Maryland lost another game in ugly fashion and its starting quarterback in the process.
Sophomore Danny O’Brien was lost for the remainder of Maryland’s miserable season with a broken bone in his left arm, an injury on top of the insult of the Terrapins’ 45-21 loss to Notre Dame at FedEx Field.
It was the sixth straight loss for Maryland (2-8), which was overwhelmed for much of the night and yielded more than 500 yards for the third time in five weeks.
“We didn’t fight the way we wanted to …,” linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield said. “I wouldn’t say give up. We just weren’t executing or playing fast like we should. We weren’t tackling like we’ve been tackling in practice.”
Whatever it was, the Terps looked completely outmatched in perhaps their most uncompetitive performance since a 38-7 loss to Temple on Sept. 24.
That’s saying something, since Maryland has dropped five straight games by double figures for the first time since 1998. But while the Fighting Irish (7-3) possess more overall talent than other teams that have run roughshod against Maryland, this one felt out of reach almost instantaneously.
Notre Dame scored a touchdown on its opening possession, the fourth straight opponent to do so against the Terps. It seized a double-digit lead late in the first quarter and never permitted Maryland to draw closer.
It was collectively a muddled mess, with one team in one-shot uniforms drilling another in specialty threads throughout the night; the only thing in doubt was the final score.
The Terps dusted off the “Maryland pride” unis they donned for their opener, though it’s safe to say the Irish have some affinity for this particular state. Notre Dame’s combined margin of victory against Maryland and Navy —- the state’s only major college programs —- was 101-35 this season.
The most costly part of the night, though, was the O’Brien’s injury.
The sophomore, last year’s ACC rookie of the year, was amid a rough night in a season littered with down moments. O’Brien was 14 of 21 for 132 yards a touchdown and an interception that Notre Dame returned for touchdown to expand its lead to 38-7 in the middle of the third quarter.
On the next play from scrimmage, O’Brien scrambled to his right and was brought to the sod by linebacker Dan Fox. He landed on his left (non-throwing elbow) and remained on the field in pain for a few minutes.
When he finally rose, he tucked his left hand inside his shoulder pad while an athletic trainer held his elbow up and slowly walked back to the locker room as quarterback C.J. Brown took the field.
“He just told me to go get my helmet,” Brown said of coach Randy Edsall’s instructions.
By then, there wasn’t much to be done. The Terps scored on only one of their first nine possessions, an unpleasant thing to pair with the Irish’s 508 total yards. Tailback Jonas Gray rumbled for a career-high 136 yards and two touchdowns —- including a score on a fourth-down plunge just before halftime —- and quarterback Tommy Rees threw for 296 yards on 30 of 38 passing.
It was another dissection of the Maryland defense, a commonplace occurrence these days regardless of which venue in Prince George’s County the Terps happen to play in on a given day. Perhaps more startling than the three 500-yard days surrendered by Maryland in a span of less than a month is the fact the Terps had only four such days in the previous decade.
The woes can be pinned on plenty of problems depending on vantage point: Injury, inexperience, feeble fundamentals, ill-fitting schemes or some combination of all of them. One thing isn’t debatable —- a woeful season grew even more painful Saturday, especially for the quarterback whose autumn came to an abrupt end in the Terps’ latest loss.
—- Patrick Stevens