Football: Rapid Recap: Maryland 31, Northwestern 24


Seeger Gray/Daily Senior Staffer

Sophomore quarterback Brendan Sullivan. The Michigan native went 18-for-24 in the loss against Maryland.

Charlotte Varnes, Sports Editor

For much of Saturday’s matchup, it looked as though Northwestern would win on American soil for the first time in over a year.

Early on, the Wildcats got their first lead since August and even managed to control their game at the half. Sophomore quarterback Brendan Sullivan appeared at ease, and Maryland’s offense struggled to click.

But, once again, the Ireland magic refused to return. The Wildcats emerged from their bye week with a 31-24 loss against Maryland on Saturday. Now, NU (1-6, 1-2 Big Ten) remains winless since its Week 0 contest against Nebraska. 

Most notable was the battle of the backups, as both teams had first-time starters at center – Sullivan for the Cats, and Billy Edwards Jr. for the Terrapins (6-2, 3-2). Here’s more on their performances, and the biggest takeaways from Saturday’s matchup. 


1. Sullivan debuts as starter

Until game time, it was unclear whether junior Ryan Hilinski or sophomore Brendan Sullivan would take the field as quarterback. Sullivan ended up making his first career start, looking calm and in control when he first took the field in College Park. 

In the first quarter alone, Sullivan went 5-for-6 – including a 46-yard pass to senior wide receiver Malik Washington that paved the way to the Cats’ first score. He wasn’t always perfect, making wide-open, errant passes here and there. But it was marked improvement from his first moments against Wisconsin, when he opened the matchup with three straight three-and-outs.

He wasn’t as consistent in the second half, tallying an interception that ultimately led to a Maryland touchdown and struggling to get things going in the fourth quarter. He ultimately went 18-for-24 – a bright spot amid an NU breakdown on Saturday.

2. Edwards Jr. leads Maryland victory

Like NU, it was unclear who the Terrapins would start until game time. Starting quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa re-aggravated a sprained MCL in Maryland’s last matchup against Indiana, and the program ultimately chose to start back-up Billy Edwards Jr. instead. 

Edwards lacked composure in the first half, going 12-for-20 and getting sacked three times alone in the second quarter. He managed to help the Terrapins put up 10 points by halftime, but they still trailed to NU by a score. 

His third quarter was smoother, going 4-for-5 – including a touchdown pass to power the Terrapins to a 24-17 lead – and powering a 14-0 Maryland third quarter. While he struggled at first, his second half efforts were key to the Terrapin’s victory. 

3. Gallagher builds on breakout season, leads defense

After a career performance against Penn State, Gallagher once again led the Cats against Maryland. With 16 total tackles and 7 solo tackles, he was key to maintaining momentum on the defensive end. 

The first half was pivotal for the defense, and Gallagher played a crucial role by posting two sacks. As the Terrapins picked up steam in the second half, Gallagher slowed down a bit but managed to record four total tackles in the third quarter. 

Beyond Gallagher’s efforts, defensive back Rod Heard II and linebacker Xander Mueller made pivotal stops, recording 10 total tackles a piece. Defensive lineman Adetomiwa Adebawore was key as well, totaling two sacks. 

But allowing a 75-yard Maryland rushing touchdown in the final minutes of the game proved difficult to overcome. 

4. Running game improves under Sullivan

After notching just 90 total rushing yards against Wisconsin, NU’s running game emerged in full force against Maryland. 

Junior running back Evan Hull shook off a quiet stretch of games and once again took center stage. He rushed for 119 yards – his most since September – and also recorded 31 receiving yards and a touchdown. 

Sullivan looked strong on the ground as well, notching 53 rushing yards and one touchdown. He looked at ease on the ground, which could make all the difference in NU’s upcoming stretch of Big Ten matchups.

5. Cats look to gain momentum against Iowa

Now, NU heads to Iowa in hopes of recording its first win in the United States since October 16, 2021. The Hawkeyes join the Cats in the basement of the Big Ten West, as each stands at 1-3 in conference.

NU has no hope of a winning season at this point. Regardless, a win over Iowa could prove essential to reviving fans’ interest and sparking momentum within the program.

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Twitter: @charvarnes11