NCAA

Special teams fails Terps as Maryland finds a different way to lose

terps-michigan-usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

Special teams fails Terps as Maryland finds a different way to lose

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland knew Saturday’s game against Michigan was going to be tough. After losing five of its last six, the Terps returned home to face the 14th ranked team in the nation that was coming off a dominant win over Notre Dame. It may have looked like a mismatch on paper, but Maryland did everything it could to keep the game close and perhaps even threaten an upset, if not for a disastrous performance from the special teams.

The Terps entered Saturday’s game with questions at quarterback and a defense that had been gashed both on the ground and through the air, yet it was the special teams that ultimately cost them the game in a 38-7 defeat at the hands of the Wolverines.

“The area of concern, obviously, coming from this game is with our special teams play,” head coach Mike Locksley said.

It was a concern from the very first play.

Giles Jackson received the opening kickoff for Michigan. He hesitated slightly, found a hole in the coverage and turned on the jets, bursting through and rocketing down the sideline for the 97-yard touchdown.

It was the first time since 1987 that Maryland had allowed an opening kickoff return for a touchdown.

“Obviously, I'm disappointed when the ball goes running down the field in the first kickoff return, but it's so what, now what?” Locksley said. “So what, now what? We can't fold the tent.”

Michigan jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Terps certainly did not fold the tent and hung tough. The defense was much more formidable than it had been in recent weeks and Michigan’s offense was not moving the ball all that effectively.

With a chance to get on the board in the second quarter, Maryland lined up for a 37-yard field goal. Kicker Joseph Petrino missed it wide-right.

Later in the quarter, with Michigan’s offense stalling, Jim Harbaugh dialed up a fake punt on a fourth and one. The punt protector Michael Barrett took the direct snap and ran it up the middle for 14 yards. On the very next play, Shea Patterson connected with Nico Collins for 51 yards and two plays later, Zach Charbonnet finished off the drive with the eight-yard touchdown run.

Locksley tried to downplay the importance of the fake punt, but it turned a 14-0 game into a 21-0 game and seemed to deflate any of the momentum Maryland had gained from the strong play from its defense.

“I wouldn't say it was a turning point, but it did allow them to steal some points at the end of the first half which we were trying to guard against,” Locksley said.

In the first half alone, special teams essentially accounted for two Michigan touchdowns, plus three lost points for the Terps on the missed field goal.

The struggles hit the punt team in the second half.

Michigan crushed punter Anthony Porcella on a partially blocked punt. He did well to still send the ball 36 yards on the play. Colton Spangler took the next punt for Maryland and boomed it...15 yards.

For the game, Maryland punted eight times with an average of only 34.9 yards per punt.

There was one highlight as Javon Leake returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. That proved to be Maryland’s only score of the game. The touchdown was Leake’s third kickoff returned for a touchdown, tying a school record set by Torrey Smith.

But one touchdown return doesn’t mean all that much if you allow a touchdown return, a fake punt, can’t hit field goals and lose the field possession game with inconsistent punting.

Michigan torched Notre Dame just one week ago for 437 total yards including 303 on the ground. A porous Maryland defense managed to hold the Wolverines to just 331 total yards. It was a good effort that was ultimately wasted because of the special teams.

“Missing field goals, our punting game was very inconsistent today which hadn't been a big issue,” Locksley said. “And then again, giving up points on special teams, those are things you can't do.”

MORE NCAA NEWS:

Jairus Hamilton's career-high 23 points lifts BC over Virginia Tech

usatsi_hokies_bc.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Jairus Hamilton's career-high 23 points lifts BC over Virginia Tech

BOSTON -- Jairus Hamilton scored a career-high 23 points, Jay Heath added 15 points and Boston College snapped a four-game losing with a 61-56 victory over Virginia Tech Saturday afternoon.

Jared Hamilton had his only two baskets of the game in the final 3 minutes for the Eagles (10-10, 4-5 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Landers Nolley II led the Hokies (14-6, 5-4) with 15 points and Nahiem Alleyne added 10. Virginia Tech had won four of its last five games and its previous five against BC.

Virginia Tech had opened a six-point lead with 8 minutes to play, but the Eagles sliced it to 49-48 on Jairus Hamilton's 3 from the right wing with 5:05 left. Steffon Mitchell went to the line with a chance to put BC ahead on the next possession, but he missed both free throws.

But Jairus Hamilton did end BC's miserable day temporarily at the free-throw line at the end of the next possession, hitting both to give the Eagles a 50-49 edge. They had missed 10 of their initial 15 from the line.

Jared Hamilton the hit consecutive jumpers, making it 54-51, the second a one-handed runner from the right baseline.

Jairus Hamilton added a 3 from the top, pushing BC in front 57-53 with just over two minutes left.

BC had trailed by five at halftime, but tied it at 35 on Derryck Thornton's 3-pointer. The teams were also tied at 37 before Virginia Tech went on a 7-1 spree.

The Hokies had opened a 10-point lead in the first half en route to a 31-26 edge at intermission despite eight turnovers for a team that averages just over nine a game.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia Tech: The Hokies are one of the league's biggest surprises. Picked to finish near the bottom in the preseason poll, they're playing very well despite young players getting a lot of minutes. They have four players that are freshman and two red-shirt freshmen.

Boston College: The Eagles desperately needed a victory to end their slide before tough matchups against national powers Louisville and Duke sandwiched around a game against struggling North Carolina.

BELL MOMENT

BC retired the jersey of former two-time All-American guard Troy Bell at halftime,

He's still the school's all-time leading scorer (2,632 points). He played for the Eagles from 1999-2003 and won the Big East rookie of the year award.

"I never envisioned this moment," he said at a morning press conference, standing on the court. "I had great teammates and coaches. We were having a great time, doing something we would have done for free. To be here and being honored is amazing."

HARDLY FREE

The Eagles hit just 11 of their 27 free throws.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: At Miami on Tuesday.

Boston College: Hosts No. 6 Louisville Wednesday.

RELATED NCAA NEWS:

VCU beats La Salle behind Santos-Silva's 16 points

usatsi_13926992.jpg
USA TODAY sports images

VCU beats La Salle behind Santos-Silva's 16 points

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Marcus Santos-Silva registered 16 points and nine rebounds as VCU topped La Salle 76-65 on Saturday.

Nah'Shon Hyland had 15 points for VCU (15-5, 5-2 Atlantic 10 Conference). Mike'L Simms added 13 points. Issac Vann had 10 points.

David Beatty had 16 points for the Explorers (10-9, 1-6), who have now lost five consecutive games. Scott Spencer added 16 points. Ed Croswell had 11 points.

VCU matches up against Richmond at home on Tuesday. La Salle plays Saint Louis at home on Wednesday.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

RELATED NCAA NEWS: