Best of 2016 Quick Lane Bowl: Ty Johnson shines for Maryland
Maryland got back in the bowl business in its first year under DJ Durkin, the former Michigan defensive coordinator. Alas, the Terrapins couldn’t finish with a win, falling 36-30 to Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl.
Maryland was done-in by a number of things. Most notably: turnovers, which were such a big issue in 2015. Last year, the Terps were last in the Big Ten with a minus 18; Maryland entered Monday’s game with a minus five to rank 11th.
On this day, however, the Terps had four turnovers, losing three fumbles with an interception while BC had just two turnovers. Another big issue for Maryland was penalties, as the Terrapins had 11. Poor field position also hurt the Terps.
BEST OF THE QUICK LANE BOWL
Best play: Trailing 16-0 in the second quarter with the offense going nowhere, Terrapin sophomore back Ty Johnson bolted 62 yards up the middle for a touchdown. The score gave Maryland some life and made it a ball game.
Best player: Maryland TB Ty Johnson has been a big-play-waiting-to-happen all season. And that was no different on this day. Johnson ran 15 times for 159 yards with TD jaunts of 62 and 30 yards. He also had a 29-yard run. That is 10.6 yards per tote. Johnson entered the game averaging 8.9 yards on 95 carries for 845 yards, meaning he joined the 1,000-yard club.
Best stat: 8, sacks for Boston College. Maryland couldn’t handle the formidable Eagle front led by stud end Harold Landry, who was unblockable for much of the game. It was fitting in many ways that the game ended with Perry Hills getting sacked by Landry, who had 1.5 sacks on the day. He also had a one-handed interception and deflected passes on consecutive plays on Maryland’s drive late in the fourth quarter that ended with a fumble.
Offense: C+. The Terrapins outgained the Eagles, 357-348. But BC won the ground game battle, outgaining Maryland, 177-128. BC had 52 rushing attempts to the Terps’ 34, controlling the ball and the time of possession. And QB Perry Hills was spotty, missing his last six passes en route to hitting just 15-of-35 passes for 229 yards with two TDs and a pick. The Terp line struggled mightily vs. BC’s tough front, allowing eight sacks and lots of pressure on Hills. That pressure also played a part in five passes being broken up by the Eagles.
Defense: C-. Maryland didn’t play tremendously on defense all season, and the Terps had their issues Monday, too. It didn’t help that leading tackler Shane Cockerille was out for undisclosed reasons. BC QB Patrick Towles hit only 10-of-22 passes for 151 yards with two TDs and a pick. (He caught a TD pass on a trick play.) The Eagles averaged just 3.4 yards per carry while forcing two turnovers but did a lot of damage in the first half, notching 29 points with 238 yards and never looking back. This was an offensively challenged BC team entering the game. But it roared today.
Special teams: C. No big plays in this area. But props to Terp punter Wade Lees, who booted the ball seven times for 277 yards (39.6 average) with one kick inside the 20. Wonder if injured return man Will Likely would have made a difference?
So, Maryland finishes with a 6-7 mark, the school’s second losing record in a row. But the Terps fought hard vs. BC in a game that looked like a blowout at times. The Eagles led by 16 at halftime, 23 points early in the third quarter and had to force Boston College to turn the ball over on downs late in the game to seal the victory.
A look toward 2017: The future is bright for Maryland. DJ Durkin has some momentum, taking the Terrapins to a bowl in his first season in College Park, Maryland. The offensive line remains a work in progress with talent like Damian Prince and Terrance Davis to build around, and skill talent like wideout D.J. Moore and running back T.J. Johnson are building blocks. But what will happen at QB with Perry Hills gone? Tyrrell Pigrome got his feet wet as a true freshman. Maryland also will have North Carolina transfer Caleb Henderson and touted freshman Kasim Hill in the mix. The defense has a lot of work to do with CB Will Likely gone. Most of the front seven is back, but it must improve led by LBs Shane Cockerille and Jermaine Carter. And E Jesse Aniebonam is a force off the edge with CB JC Jackson a difference maker for a Terp squad that will open at Texas in 2017.