Taulia Tagovailoa injured in Maryland win at Indiana

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – For the past three seasons, Taulia Tagovailoa has given the Maryland football program something new at quarterback. He showed his abilities, broke school records and provided long-awaited stability. But the image of him lying on the turf in pain, clutching his leg and driving off on a cart during the Terrapins’ game at Indiana on Saturday has become a familiar sight for a fan base marred by an abundance of quarterback injuries. .

The injury will loom over the weekend, although backup Billy Edwards Jr. replaced Tagovailoa early in the fourth quarter and pulled Maryland out of a deficit for a 38-33 victory. Edwards, a transfer from Wake Forest, led the Terps in consecutive touchdowns despite not passing and scored a rushing touchdown with 2:11 remaining.

The Hoosiers then scored with less than a minute to go, but their two-run attempt fell through, keeping Maryland’s lead at five. Jacob Copeland recovered Indiana’s kick to seal a win that will have muted celebration until the severity of Tagovailoa’s injury becomes clear. Coach Michael Locksley said his quarterback suffered a “lower leg” injury that he wasn’t sure if it was his knee or his ankle. The team will know more after Tagovailoa has an MRI scan upon his return to College Park.

“We all know that on any given game, that could be your opportunity,” said Locksley, who added that Edwards takes 40% of first-team reps in training. “Our players prepare that way.”

Before Tagovailoa left the game, the Terps (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) suffered a barrage of setbacks, some unavoidable (injuries that kept key players out) and some self-inflicted ( too many penalties, an undesirable habit of this team). But the Terps managed to contain the struggling Hoosiers (3-4, 1-3), who lost four in a row.

Chess tackle helps Maryland offensive line plan next moves

When Edwards entered, the Terps faced a 27-24 deficit. His attacking teammates told him they had faith in him, and as a substitute, Edwards described his preparation as “very similar to Taulia’s”.

He led Maryland on a touchdown drive, which was capped by Roman Hemby’s six-yard run with 5:35 to go. The defense, plagued with gaps and penalties throughout, stepped up as they recovered a fumble on Indiana’s next possession, opening the door for the second touchdown. Hemby’s 46-yard run pushed Maryland into striking position, and Edwards looked sharp as he provided the heroism.

“The longer I was in there,” he said, “the more comfortable I felt.”

Maryland played without three key veterans who start normally: linebacker Ruben Hyppolite II (ankle), who had missed two games but returned to play last week; cornerback Jakorian Bennett (injury unspecified); and left tackle Jaelyn Duncan, who missed the game for personal reasons. The Terps’ depth was further reduced by injuries to defensive backs Gavin Gibson and Glendon Miller.

Tarheeb Still, with an interception on the game’s first play, and Deonte Banks, with a pick on Indiana’s first play in the second half, provided moments of optimism for the secondary, which had a performance that Locksley described as “hit or miss”.

The Terps fell into a hole after collapsing in the second quarter, with penalties hampering the defensive effort, with Tagovailoa struggling at times against Indiana’s pressure and stalled offense. The Maryland redshirted junior quarterback completed 10 of 14 passes in the first quarter, then just 6 of 13 in the second. The Hoosiers scored 14 straight points to take a 17-14 halftime lead, including a touchdown that came after the Terps picked up a defensive holding flag on the punt and handed Indiana a first automatic test.

“Guys have to be disciplined, really,” said Still, who was flagged twice for pass interference. “We got a little nonchalant. We had a good first quarter, then we got a little lax, then we got a little cold, which is bad. We have to keep our foot on the accelerator every game.”

The Terps improved after halftime, with Tagovailoa leading Maryland on a touchdown that ended in Dontay Demus Jr.’s first score since returning from a torn ACL last season. Maryland’s rushing offense, which gained just 45 yards in three quarters, came alive in fourth with 127 yards.

After the game, Edwards said he and Tagovailoa had “a good long hug in the locker room”.

“He was in good spirits,” Edwards added. “He was partying, singing with me, banging on the lockers.”

Edwards’ strong performance with the game on the line provided optimism if he is to hold on to the role for weeks to come. But the Terps would naturally prefer to get their starter back to keep this promising season on track. For now, they will have to wait for this update hoping that Tagovailoa does not join its many predecessors who have suffered unfortunate injuries.

Over the past decade, Maryland fans have had to endure one torn ACL after another. They saw a linebacker step in at quarterback. They’ve seen seasons upset by those injuries, and so they back off every time Tagovailoa stays on the ground a bit too long after being hit. He got scared earlier this year when he slipped with cramp after scoring a rushing touchdown against Charlotte. Tagovailoa sat out the final practice in the loss to Michigan with minor rib and knee injuries. Each week, he would return for the next game, apparently in full health.

This time, Tagovailoa left on a cart. Edwards played admirably and made sure the Terps rose to the occasion. But Tagovailoa’s image in pain will persist, and the ramifications of his injury could change the course of Maryland’s season.

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