Maryland loses starting quarterback Josh Jackson in 48-7 win over Rutgers

Josh Jackson exited Saturday’s game with crutches after high-ankle sprain. Photo obtained from the  Washington Post . (Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

Josh Jackson exited Saturday’s game with crutches after high-ankle sprain. Photo obtained from the Washington Post. (Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

It was a bittersweet afternoon for Maryland on Saturday.

While they ended their two-game skid by defeating Rutgers 48-7, junior quarterback Josh Jackson left the game towards the end of the first half with a right ankle injury.

Described as a “high-ankle sprain,” per head coach Mike Locksley, Jackson suffered the injury on the Terps’ last drive of the first half after getting his ankle caught underneath a Rutgers’ defender. 

Jackson left the game on crutches and did not return, ending his day with 179 passing yards and two touchdowns. Locksley said that Jackson is currently “day-to-day” during the team’s media day Tuesday afternoon.

Before going down, Jackson and the offense got off to a quick start when he connected with sophomore wide receiver Dontay Demus on a slant route for an 80-yard touchdown on Maryland’s first play from scrimmage.

Demus led the team in receiving with three receptions for 94 yards to go along with his touchdown.

After Rutgers tied the game with a little over nine minutes in the second quarter, Maryland turned back the clock a few weeks and looked like the team that scored 142 points against Howard and Syracuse.

Junior running back Tayon Fleet-Davis got things going for the offense after he caught a wide-open pass from Jackson down the right sideline for a 23-yard touchdown reception to put the Terps up 14-7. 

A little under two minutes passed before Maryland got on the board again after junior running back Javon Leake scored on a 42-yard run. Leake finished the day with 190 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, including a 100-yard kickoff return at the beginning of the third quarter.

Sophomore running back Anthony McFarland punched in a two-yard run a little over a minute after Leake’s score to give the Terps a 27-7 lead at half.

After losing senior running back Jake Funk and redshirt junior running back Lorenzo Harrison III to knee injuries earlier in the year, Maryland was left with only three healthy running backs: McFarland, Leake and Fleet-Davis.

The trio showed the depth that the team still has by combining for 392 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns. 

Locksley was pleased with how well the team executed as a whole.

“That was a much needed bounce back win for us,” Locksley said. “I thought all three phases contributed to the win.”

After giving up 59 points last week, Maryland’s defense played like a whole different unit on Saturday.

The defense held Rutgers’ offense to 314 total yards even though Rutgers had the ball for almost nine minutes more, and ran 11 plays more on offense than Maryland did during the game.

Three linebackers for the Terps all had career days as senior Keandre Jones, sophomore Ayinde Eley and graduate transfer Shaq Smith each had career-highs in tackles, They finished with 12, 11 and eight, respectively.

“I thought overall collectively on defense when you hold a team to seven points, it’s pretty good,” Locksley said. 

Eley also had an interception returned deep into Rutgers’ territory that set up McFarland’s second quarter touchdown early in the game. It marked his second career interception and the 17th straight game that Maryland has forced a turnover.

The Terps’ defense finished the day with two interceptions, three sacks and and only gave up 11 first downs all afternoon.

The victory on Saturday marks Maryland’s first Big Ten win of the season, increasing their record to 3-2 and putting them at the halfway point of being bowl eligible for the first time since 2016.

During the post-game press conference, Locksley said that junior Tyrrell Pigrome will be the team’s starting quarterback until Jackson is ready to return. Pigrome appeared in 11 games last season, starting the final two. He threw for 561 yards and two touchdowns. Known for his rushing ability, he also ran for 159 yards and one touchdown.

In limited action this season, Pigrome has thrown for 171 yards and one touchdown. He has also rushed for 57 yards and one touchdown.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Tyler Desue will handle his backup duties. A three-star recruit from Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School, Desue appeared in four games last season. 

The Terps will visit Ross-Ade Stadium on Oct. 12 to face Purdue at noon.