Caleb Rowe’s first start as Maryland’s starting quarterback was mixed with both promise and frustration, though the freshman was insistent he was eager to learn and grow from the experience.
It turns out it also featured another common trait for a Terrapin quarterback: A season-ending injury.
Maryland announced Sunday evening that Rowe suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during Saturday’s 20-17 loss at Boston College and will be lost for the season.
Freshman linebacker Shawn Petty, who served as Rowe’s backup Sunday and has yet to play in a college game, will presumably work as the starter Saturday when the Terps (4-4, 2-2 ACC) play host to Georgia Tech (3-5, 2-3).
Rowe is the third Maryland quarterback lost to an ACL tear; both junior C.J. Brown (in August) and freshman Perry Hills (in an Oct. 20 loss to N.C. State) had the same injury. Sophomore Devin Burns was diagnosed with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot after that game and will also miss the rest of the season.
“I feel awful for Caleb,” coach Randy Edsall said in a statement released by the school. “I know how excited he was to get his opportunity to be the quarterback of this team. Caleb has a bright future ahead of him and we will do everything we can to support him through the rehab process.”
Edsall spoke with reporters less than three hours before the school made the announcement during his weekly day-after conference call and did not mention the injury. Edsall is scheduled to hold another conference call with reporters Sunday evening.
Rowe completed 23 of 42 passes against Boston College for 240 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions a week after making his college debut in the final minute of the loss to N.C. State. He rallied the Terps from a 13-0 deficit in the second half to take a 17-13 lead, then threw a game-sealing interception in the final minute after Boston College’s go-ahead touchdown.
“Given the situation, he came up here and did a pretty good job,” Edsall said Saturday. “There’s a couple plays he’d love to have back; I know he would. But he’s going to be a good quarterback.”
Those are in increasingly short supply in College Park these days.
The 6-foot-2, 228-pound Petty played quarterback at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt. He is a left-hander who looked every bit like the linebacker he is during warmups Saturday.
Walk-on Brian McMahon, a former quarterback at Atholton High School in Columbia, Md., was last week’s third-stringer. The true freshman tight end presumably will rise to No. 2 on the depth chart this week.
Even by the standards of Maryland’s lousy luck with quarterbacks, this has been an unpleasant season. Brown was the only quarterback on the roster with ollege experience, and he went down during the second week of practice during a noncontact drill.
Hills started the first seven games and was carted off after absorbing an illegal block after throwing an interception. Burns’ season was ended when he took an awkward step eluding a sack in the fourth quarter against N.C. State.
And now Rowe is done after just one game as the starter.
“I’m definitely ready to get better,” Rowe said Saturday. “As a football player, you can’t ever stop getting better. I’m ready to learn from these mistakes.”
But like three of his fellow quarterbacks, the opportunity to apply the lessons from his experience will have to wait quite some time.
—- Patrick Stevens