It’s a good thing that dousing the winning head coach in mayo has become a critical part of the postgame celebration for the Duke’s Mayo Bowl. It’s entertaining. The football on Friday was not. NC State and Maryland set postseason football back a decade as Maryland survives the slow-paced Mayo Bowl 16-12.
The offenses were sludging along at such a pace, that a competing time bowl game started two hours later and was at halftime before the Mayo Bowl ended. In fact, the other bowl played its entire first half in the time it took NC State and Maryland to get through the fourth quarter.
Missing Players…And Offense
The two primary quarterbacks were a combined 41 of 85 passing for a 48% completion rate with all of one touchdown between them.
Both teams were missing starters at several positions either because of opt-outs, transfer portal moves, and/or injuries. That is the case for most teams in bowl games. It showed in this game.
If it weren’t for a small handful of big plays there would have been little to report on in the first half of the game. There was little scoring and even fewer sustained drives.
Billy Edwards, Jr. started at quarterback for Maryland. He was one of one throwing for 45 yards. But after failing to get two yards on a fourth down play, the Terps turned it over on downs with zero to show for the big play.
NC State gave the ball right back when starting quarterback Ben Finley was picked off by Maryland Fa’Najae Gotay at the wolfpack 23-yard line.
Maryland returned the favor. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was scrambling and trying to throw the ball away. But he didn’t put enough on the pass and it was intercepted in the far right corner of the end zone by Cyrus Fagan.
The Wolfpack finally converted offense to points. Finley hit Thayer Thomas five yards out, but the receiver turned it into a 36-yard gain along the right sideline. The drive stalled out and Christopher Dunn connected on a 38-yard field goal to put NC State up 3-0.
Maryland had a couple of big plays on the next drive. They got a 41-yard kickoff return by Octavian Smith, Jr., and a 24-yard run by Tagovailoa. But again, there was no sustained offense, and the Terps settled for a 42-yard field goal by Chad Ryland.
In fact, there was only one sustained drive in the entire first 30 minutes of play. In the second quarter, Tagovailoa engineered an eight-play, 68-yard drive. Tagovailoa, on the run, hit Smith as he was falling toward the left sideline for a 19-yard touchdown pass. It was the only touchdown of the entire game.
Up To The Kickers
NC State mustered two more Dunn field goals, (19 and 38 yards) as Maryland held the 10-9 lead at the half.
The Wolfpack started the second half going three and out. That gave Maryland a chance to “pad” its lead. Tagovailoa drove the Terps 58 yards to set up Ryland’s 58-yard field goal to give Maryland a 13-9. The drive also burned 4:52 off the clock. That really was a summation of the game, both teams used a lot of clock without a lot of points coming out of it.
NC State had a chance at a comeback. With 11 minutes left in the game, Tagovailoa’s pass from his own 13-yard line was intercepted by the Wolfpack’s Rakeim Ahsford at the Maryland 35-yard line. But even with that big play, NC State could not capitalize. After a 19-yard completion on first down, the Wolfpack ran three plays for a total of seven yards and had to settle for another Dunn field goal. This one was good from 26 yards away to make it 13-12. It was also the last points of the game for NC State with nine minutes still to play.
Maryland added a 46-yard field goal from Ryland with just over five minutes to play in the game to bump the score to 16-12. The two teams took the remaining time moving between the 40-yard lines and punting the ball away before Maryland was finally able to run out the clock.
The last time these two played against each other was in 2013 when the Terps were playing their last game in the ACC before moving to the Big 10. There won’t be a lot of fans eager for a rematch based on Friday’s performance.
Maryland ends the season at 8-5 with head coach Mike Locksley getting the staged mayo bath as the winning head coach. NC State also ends the season at 8-5 but with some disappointment having thought to be a potential contender for the ACC title when the season started.