Maryland football running back Anthony McFarland ran to the left side of the field and waited for room to open up behind two pulling offensive lineman downfield.
After bumping into center Johnny Jordan’s back about three yards past the line of scrimmage, McFarland displayed his burst of speed and vision to find space. He broke to the outside, cut upfield and sprinted for a 10-yard gain midway through the third quarter Saturday, a part of his massive 210-yard game.
The next handoff McFarland received, there was no room to find on the right side. When the redshirt freshman attempted to cut back to the left, he was met in the backfield. As he was tackled, the ball was jarred out of his grasp, and Indiana landed on it.
The fumble was the one blemish on McFarland’s standout performance. The Hyattsville native ran for the most yards for a Maryland player since Ty Johnson in 2016 and passed Lamont Jordan’s school record for rushing yards as a freshman.
But those superlatives weren’t what McFarland focused on postgame. The fumble — and the Terps’ 34-32 loss that it contributed to — seemed to cloud his view.
“If we don’t win, nothing I do means nothing to me,” McFarland said. “It doesn’t matter how many yards I have, how many touchdowns I have. I care about winning more than anything.”
McFarland’s fumble was one of four Terps turnovers that erased an early lead and prevented them from reaching bowl eligibility before facing Big Ten titans Ohio State and Penn State to end the season.
Still, the DeMatha product frequently showed his explosiveness and promise. On his first carry of the game, he squeezed through a gap and ran 24 yards down the sideline. Midway through the second quarter, he spun out of hits from two Indiana defenders and scampered for 29 yards to become the first Maryland rusher with three 100-yard games in his freshman season.
The performance came without offensive lineman Terrance Davis. The junior didn’t start the first three games due to injury and was an important piece for the next six before being sidelined again Saturday.
While Davis’ absence meant other starters had to shuffle their positions on the line, it didn’t seem to affect the Terps much. If it hadn’t been for four turnovers, the 353 total rushing yards may have led to a different result.
“The O-line had a hell of a day,” McFarland said. “It starts with them. If they don’t get going, nobody in the backfield does nothing — I don’t care how good you are.”
McFarland had a career-high 29 carries Saturday, the highest single-game total of any Terp this season. The workload was a product of injuries to a running back corps that was once the team’s deepest position.
Lorenzo Harrison underwent knee surgery in September and is out for the year. Johnson missed last week’s game against Michigan State with a calf strain, then returned against Indiana only to depart again with a different injury. And after scampering 27 yards for a touchdown Saturday, Javon Leake left the field, clutching his right arm close to his body.
With several of his teammates sidelined, McFarland put together another impressive performance, the kind he worked toward since arriving in College Park still recovering from a broken fibula suffered before his senior season at DeMatha.
“I saw a guy that was really hungry [during his redshirt year in 2017],” Johnson said last month. “You’ve seen him this year. He looks great.”
So given his biggest chance of the season Saturday due to injuries to Johnson and other fellow running backs, McFarland stepped up in their absence and referenced a “next man up” mentality.
“He’s not taking any opportunity for granted,” DeMatha coach Elijah Brooks said earlier this year. “He’s only scratching the surface of what he can ultimately be as a player.”