History, recent or otherwise, said Maryland had little chance to erase a 17-point deficit entering the fourth quarter Friday night at home against Minnesota.
History, meet Taulia Tagovailoa and Mike Locksley's under-construction Terps.
Down 38-21 entering the final frame, the Terps tied the game at 38-all with less than four minutes to play and won it in the first bonus session on Tagovailoa's diving touchdown, Joseph Petrino's extra point and Minnesota's inability to force a second overtime when its extra point clipped right. Final, 45-44.
It's the fourth-largest comeback in the Big Ten since 2004 and Maryland's first-ever win from down 17 in the fourth quarter.
“I think the biggest thing I learned is like a parent, you can preach till you're blue in the face to your kids, and you never know if they're listening to you,” Locksley said after his Terps became the first team this season in 72 tries to win a game when down 17 points in the fourth. “We weren't gonna be a scoreboard-watching team. We're not gonna be a front-running team. We're gonna play to a standard. And that standard is to give great effort on every play
“That's the way we live day-to-day. That's how we dealt with Covid. I think you saw that today with this team. Not one time did they flinch down 17 in the fourth quarter. Not one time did we get overly hype in the first quarter. We just kept playing.”
While Jake Funk stamped his return for Maryland from a torn ACL with a 221-yard rushing effort, Tagovailoa delivered a breakout-effort that eclipsed even those of his brother and former Alabama national championship quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, who is set to make his first NFL start Sunday for the Miami Dolphins. Taulia closed with 453 yards' total offense – 394 through the air; 59 on the ground. He had five touchdowns and just one interception.
Taulia Tagovailoa even donned his brother's Dolphins jersey when he rolled into the postgame press conference. But he didn't see the missed extra point that helped Maryland bounce back from last week's 45-3 season-opening loss at Northwestern.
“My head was down,” Tagovailoa said. “I was praying, I was praying something was going to happen.”
Added Funk, “It gives us great confidence. Last week we came out and laid an egg. We knew we were better than that.”