“We didn't have as good of a day as we would have liked defensively,” Maryland head coach Randy Edsall said after the game. “We knew it was going to be tough today going into the game. We also knew that we were going to have to play great on defense to keep it a very low scoring game. We weren't able to do that.”
This was the 21st meeting between the two teams, with Georgia Tech coming in with a 14-6 advantage over the Terps. The Yellow Jackets beat the Terrapins last season in Atlanta, 21-16.
The first drive of the Shawn Petty era ended with a three-and-out with Petty getting sacked on first down. Freshman running back Wes Brown was stopped on second down and Petty was stopped on the run on third down, bringing out freshman punter Nathan Renfro to punt. The Terrapins' freshman receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro managed to strip Georgia Tech's Jamal Golden on the punt return and freshman safety Sean Davis recovered the fumble, but Petty and the Maryland offense were met with another three-and-out on their second drive.
Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington marched the Yellow Jacket offense down the field on a 12-play, 69-yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard touchdown scramble by Washington. The extra point attempt was drilled off the crossbar by Yellow Jacket kicker David Scully, giving Georgia Tech a 6-0 late in the first quarter.
Petty would commit his first turnover, fumbling the ball on a third-and-2. The fumble was recovered by Georgia Tech's Jeremiah Attaochu, giving the Yellow Jackets the ball on Maryland's 33-yard line. The Yellow Jackets would drive down the short field for another touchdown with running back Orwin Smith carrying the ball for a 5-yard touchdown run. The extra point by Scully was good, giving the Yellow Jackets a 13-0 lead with just under 14 minutes left in the second quarter.
Petty injured his wrist on the fumble play, bringing in running back Brown to play under center in the “Wild Crab” formation. That drive also went three-and-out and a 17-yard punt from Renfro handed the Yellow Jackets the ball on Maryland's own 49-yard line. Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee would make the Terps pay, scoring a third touchdown off a 2-yard quarterback keeper to give Georgia Tech a 20-0 lead.
The Terps offense would continue to struggle throughout the game. Georgia Tech's offense was slowed by Maryland's defense, despite the loss of Maryland senior linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield. They finally found the end zone again late in the third quarter with running back Robert Godhigh taking a pitch and running the ball in for a 5-yard touchdown, giving the Yellow Jackets a 27-0 lead.
The Terps would finally put points on the board and avoid a shutout late in the third quarter with Petty leading a 6-play, 57-yard drive that ended with Maryland freshman receiver Stefon Diggs catching a Petty throw and taking it into the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown reception, cutting into Georgia Tech's lead, 27-7.
The Yellow Jackets' offense would not be content with their lead, going for it on fourth-and-1 on their own 42-yard line. They converted the fourth down and a 41-yard rush by Synjyn Days led to a 2-yard touchdown scramble by Georgia Tech's Lee two plays later. The extra-point was blocked and the Yellow Jackets increased their lead to 33-7.
The Terps would have one last shot at the end of the game. With four seconds left, the Terps called a time out to give Petty and the offense one last chance. Petty evaded a defender and tossed up a high pass that was caught by Stefon Diggs, a 23-yard touchdown reception which helped Diggs break the school's all-time freshman receiving record, held by Darrius Heyward-Bey with 694 yards in 2006. The Terps would not attempt the extra point and would lose 33-13.
Petty completed nine out of 18 pass attempts and had two touchdowns and one interception. Diggs finished with five receptions for 55 yards and two touchdowns and Brandon Ross carried the ball 12 times for 66 yards after Brown left the game with a foot injury. Petty carried the ball 17 times for a net gain of 24 yards.
“We had full confidence in Shawn Petty,” Maryland linebacker Cole Farrand said. “We watched him during the week and he was looking great and you saw out there that he had great potential. He can be a great quarterback and it was his first week as a true freshman starting against Georgia Tech, one of the better teams in the ACC. We couldn't expect anything more from him and we think he did a great job.”
“I started feeling more comfortable in the second half,” Petty said. “In the first half I was a bit antsy and the speed of the game was much faster then. I calmed down and played faster and let the game come to me.”
Georgia Tech's Orwin Smith was the lead rusher, carrying the ball 12 times for 89 yards and a touchdown. Vad Lee has 12 carries for 60 yards and two touchdowns.
“When you go against a team like that, it really is hard to say just do your job because you kind of got to do a little more because guys are getting caught,” senior defensive end Joe Vellano said. “You got to make those extra effort plays but it definitely comes down to that.”
With the loss, the Terps fall to 4-5 overall on the season and 2-3 in the ACC. Georgia Tech rises to 4-5 and 3-3 in the conference.
The Terps will travel to Clemson, S.C. for their next game to take on the Clemson Tigers on Saturday. The kickoff time will be announced later this week.