Approaching one of the most crucial drives of Maryland football’s season Saturday afternoon, defensive lineman Cavon Walker approached quarterback Max Bortenschlager on the sideline.

“I looked him in his eyes,” Walker said. “He didn’t look fazed at all. He was ready.”

The Terps and Minnesota were tied at 24 with under four minutes remaining when Bortenschlager, starting in place of two injured quarterbacks, initiated a game-winning drive. He completed each of his three throws on the possession for 22 yards, and running back Ty Johnson gave Maryland the lead with a 34-yard touchdown run.

Cornerback JC Jackson clinched the 31-24 win three plays later with an interception.

Each time Maryland has built hope over the last decade, it’s collapsed down the stretch. Many critics thought the Terps would fold again this year after quarterbacks Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill tore their ACLs.

But the Terps proved they possess a stronger resolve than past squads, a trait that should give fans confidence Maryland can complete additional upsets this season in its quest for bowl eligibility.

“[Coach DJ] Durkin told us it’s not about what people told us on the outside, it’s about what we believe on the inside,” Walker said. “We had faith in ourselves.”

Maryland displayed poise during its win at then-No. 23 Texas on Sept. 2 by holding off the Longhorns with a game-clinching score at the start of the fourth quarter. But Pigrome and Hill led that victory, and with both sidelined, the Terps turned to Bortenschlager, who had a lot to prove.

The sophomore struggled in his lone career start against Nebraska last season, and he threw two interceptions after replacing Hill last weekend in Maryland’s 38-10 blowout loss to Central Florida.

But the culture Durkin has brought to this program hasn’t only changed the talent-level. He’s also improved the team’s mindset.

Groups of teammates gathered around Bortenschlager this week to assure him they believe in his ability, beginning with the team’s dinner last Sunday. There was no pouting about losing two quarterbacks in three weeks. Bortenschlager was their guy.

“Last week I had a bittersweet taste in my mouth,” said Bortenschlager, who notched a career-high three total touchdowns. “I didn’t want to have that same feeling this week.”

Confidence stems from preparation, and the Terps couldn’t ask for a better mentor than offensive coordinator Walt Bell. Bortenschlager’s playing style is different than Pigrome’s and Hill’s, serving primarily as a pocket passer instead of a dual-threat option.

Bell has demonstrated an ability to develop quarterbacks in his one and a half years with the Terps. He even made Perry Hills, whose Maryland career seemed over before 2016, an effective signal-caller last season. Hills threw for 12 touchdowns and four interceptions.

Bell’s impact was on display Saturday, as Bortenschlager excelled in third-down situations.

After converting five of 14 third downs last weekend, the Terps went 9-for-16 Saturday, including 4-for-6 in the fourth quarter.

“The team was playing with a determination, a resolve around them,” Durkin said. “They just decided to come together and do something special.”

Maryland still faces a challenge to become bowl eligible with Big Ten play just beginning, but fans couldn’t have asked for much better than a 3-1 record given the team’s schedule. The Terps might have faltered against Texas and Minnesota in past seasons.

Will Maryland keep things close at No. 11 Ohio State next weekend? Probably not. But given the effort level Durkin’s squad showed Saturday, perhaps it’s time to stop writing these players off.