Minnesota drops first game to Maryland

Just like last year, it was the Gophers’ first loss of the season — both to Maryland.

Junior linebacker Blake Cashman goes in to tackle Maryland wide receiver DJ Moore on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Jack Rodgers

Junior linebacker Blake Cashman goes in to tackle Maryland wide receiver DJ Moore on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

by Jack Warrick

Minnesota’s defense had allowed an average of nine points per game before playing Maryland Saturday.

But as the first half dragged on in College Park, Maryland, it was clear the non-conference schedule was over as the Terrapins went into halftime with a 21-10 lead.

Maryland (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) dealt Minnesota (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) its first loss 42-13 with 432 yards of total offense and multiple plays of 20 yards or more on Saturday.

“They put you in a lot of tough positions on offense,” head coach P.J. Fleck told reporters after the game. “If one guy’s out of place, or you miss a tackle it could be catastrophic. They didn’t give us anything tonight.”

The Terrapins ran for 315 yards and four rushing touchdowns. Before the game, the Gophers defense had allowed an average of 72 yards per game on the ground.

“They’re a very skillful team and they took advantage of it whenever we weren’t in a gap or weren’t aligned right,” linebacker Thomas Barber told reporters.

Maryland’s Tre Watson intercepted Gophers’ quarterback Zack Annexstad’s first pass of the second half and took that for a touchdown — making the score 28-10 to start the second half. The interception was Annexstad’s first of his career.

The Gophers couldn’t recover, only scoring on two field goals from Emmit Carpenter and one touchdown reception from wide receiver Rashod Bateman in the game. Bateman’s touchdown was a 17-yard reception for his first college touchdown.

“When you’re down 14-0, before you know it … everything changes,” Fleck told reporters.

Annexstad finished 14-32 passing for 169 yards with two interceptions and one touchdown pass. Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim ran 26 times for 95 yards.

“I feet like we just have to execute better next time. We’re going to learn from this come tomorrow, and we’re going to get better next week,” Ibrahim told reporters.

The Gophers allowed multiple big plays, while never scoring from the red zone. Maryland had five touchdowns scored from 20-plus-yard plays. The largest was an 81-yard rushing touchdown from Ty Johnson with 4:03 left in the first quarter.

Star defensive back Antoine Winfield Jr. left the game in the first quarter and was ruled out of the game with an injury. He suffered a season-ending injury in the Maryland game last year.

“This game’s a very emotional game, and he’s an emotional leader,” Fleck told reporters. “When he’s on the field everybody feels a lot better.”

Gophers wide receiver Tyler Johnson, who averaged 94 yards per game before the Maryland game, had two catches for 12 yards.

Maryland had 10 penalties for 118 yards while Minnesota had one for 15 yards: a Carter Coughlin personal foul in the final minutes of the game.

“Us losing tonight is part of what’s needed to continue to grow. We don’t want it but it’s needed,” Fleck told reporters.