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Rutgers football loses to Maryland in regular season finale

Senior wide receiver Bo Melton caught passes and returned kicks this weekend as the Rutgers football team fell to Maryland, extending their bowl drought to seven years. – Photo by Tom Gilbert

The Rutgers football team lost to Maryland 40-16 on Saturday in its final game of the regular season. The loss will end the Scarlet Knights’ (5-7, 2-7) season just one win short of making a bowl game.

The Terrapins (6-6, 3-6) got off to a fast start on offense, scoring touchdowns on their first two offensive drives. On the extra-point attempt after the second touchdown, senior defensive lineman Ifeanyi Maijeh blocked the kick, giving junior defensive back Kessawn Abraham the chance to return the blocked kick all the way to the opposite end zone.

The play resulted in 2 points and meant Rutgers now only trailed Maryland 13-2. The score would stay the same for the rest of the first quarter.

The game’s next points would come from the Terrapins when Taulia Tagovailoa rushed in a 10-yard touchdown with approximately 4 minutes to go in the half. Maryland would ultimately take the 20-2 lead into the locker room.

The closest the Knights would get in the second half was 10 points after a rushing touchdown from sophomore running back Aaron Young made the score 26-16.

The score would stay the same until the beginning of the fourth quarter when a 13-yard rushing touchdown from Tayon Fleet-Davis gave the Terrapins more breathing room on the scoreboard. Maryland would go on to score one more touchdown to cap off the victory.

“It was very clear (Maryland is) a different team when they’re ahead. You know, we talked about it all week that we needed to hold up defensively, give our offense a chance to put some points on the board and that didn’t go the way we planned,” said head football coach Greg Schiano after the game. “It was a huge goal we did not reach.”

For the fifth consecutive game, Rutgers did not throw a touchdown pass in route to a 173-yard passing performance led by multiple quarterbacks. On the ground, the Knights’ 164-yard rushing effort was led by junior running back Isaih Pacheco. Touchdowns were scored by Aaron Young and junior quarterback Johnny Langan.

The receiving department was led by sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Washington and senior wide receiver Bo Melton. In his last game at SHI Stadium, Melton had a 53-yard kickoff return to go along with his four receptions for 48 yards.

On defense, junior defensive back Avery Young finished as the game’s leading tackler with 12 total tackles, 11 of which were solo tackles. Avery Young also added a tackle-for-loss and joined sophomore linebacker Mohamed Toure in registering a sack.

Tagovailoa finished his day with 312 passing yards and three touchdowns. The Terrapins also had a 100-yard rusher in Fleet-Davis, who scored two touchdowns. Rakim Jarrett led the team in receiving with seven receptions for 111 yards.

Rutgers will finish the 2021 season with a 5-7 record. While the program increased its win total from last year, the Knights won one less Big Ten game this season to round out a 2-7 conference record. The program also will fall just one win short of securing its first bowl appearance since 2014.

In addition, it was the last game for many of the seniors on the roster. Many of the players were recruited by previous head coach Chris Ash before Schiano took over after the 2019 season.

“You know what, I think that’ll be better next week sometime when we get together,” Schiano said when he was asked for his assessment of the season. “I’m hurting too. I really wanted to do that for those kids. You think what they have been through, right, some really bad seasons, some tough seasons. Then they go through (the pandemic). I mean, it’s been a heck of a run for this group of kids.”

For more updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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