Gophers replay Maryland 42, Gophers 13
After outscoring opponents by a combined 95-27 in three nonconference victories, the Gophers fell hard Saturday as Maryland hit on big play after big play in the Big Ten opener. Against a Gophers defense that had allowed only 72 yards rushing per game, the Terrapins gashed the Gophers for 315 yards on 37 carries. Anthony McFarland had touchdown runs of 26 and 64 yards, and Ty Johnson raced 81 yards for a TD as Maryland beat Minnesota for the second consecutive year to open conference play.
Maryland bolted to a 14-0 first-quarter lead, making the Gophers offense play catch-up all afternoon. Quarterback Zack Annexstad was sacked four times and faced stiff pressure all afternoon. He completed 14 of 32 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown but threw two interceptions, the first of which Terps linebacker Tre Watson returned 36 yards for a TD early in the third quarter. “They put a lot of pressure on our quarterback,’’ coach P.J. Fleck said.
The Gophers lost safety Antoine Winfield Jr. to a left foot injury on the game’s first series, and on Sunday coach P.J. Fleck announced Winfield would miss the rest of the season. He will undergo surgery Monday.
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Maryland’s defense was aggressive Saturday and not afraid to take penalties. The Terps were called for pass interference three times, had a pair of defensive facemask penalties and had a defensive holding call declined after a 13-yard gain by the Gophers. Maryland held Gophers receiver Tyler Johnson to two catches for 12 yards, and his first reception didn’t come until 12 minutes were left in the fourth quarter.
“Guys just flew around and played with a lot of energy,’’ Watson said. “We have dudes on this team that can fly around and make plays at any moment.’’
Ground to a halt
Running back Mohamed Ibrahim made his first start and carried 26 times for 95 yards. “They came downhill fast,’’ he said.
After averaging 181.7 rushing yards per game in nonconference play, the Gophers were held to 94 yards on 40 carries, a figure that included minus-34 yards on the four sacks of Annexstad. Redshirt freshman Ibrahim said of Maryland’s defense: “That was probably their biggest key.’’
Up next: vs. Iowa
2:30 or 3 p.m. Oct. 6, TCF Bank Stadium
TV (radio): TBD (100.3-FM)
The skinny: After both Iowa and the Gophers have their bye weeks this week, the teams will meet with the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy on the line. The Gophers lead the series 42-38-2, but Iowa has won the past three.
The Hawkeyes are coming off a 28-17 home loss to Wisconsin in a battle of Big Ten West Division contenders. Iowa led 17-14 through three quarters, but the Badgers got the winning score with 57 seconds on Alex Hornibrook’s 17-yard TD pass to A.J. Taylor.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction, and the thing that excites me is that I think we got a lot of potential to get a lot better,’’ Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “So that’s where we got to be focused and realize we still got an eight-game schedule to play.’’