Taulia Tagovailoa shines as Maryland outlasts West Virginia

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Taulia Tagovailoa’s first collegiate start was one he’d like to forget.

His first start of the 2021 college season was one he will always remember.

The Maryland quarterback — and yes the younger brother of Tua — shined in Maryland’s 30-24 upset victory over the visiting West Virginia Mountaineers. Tagovailoa completed 26 of 36 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns, and added a critical run at the end of the game to help the Terrapinsseal the win at College Park.

Tagovailoa got the Terrapins into the end zone for the first time this season with this 66-yard strike to wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr:

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This is a beautiful job by Tagovailoa of climbing in the pocket, while keeping his eyes downfield to pick up Demus. For his part, the receiver does a tremendous job of accelerating past the coverage to get the separation, and then races downfield to give Maryland the lead.

His second touchdown pass of the game came later in the first quarter, on this screen pass to Chigoziem Okonkwo. Tagovailoa does a very good job of selling this play, waiting until the last moment before flipping his eyes to the left to pick up Okonkwo:

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Tagovailoa has to navigate around a free rusher, but he hangs in the pocket and takes the shot, giving Okonkwo a chance to pick up his convoy of blockers and scamper into the end zone for an 18-yard score.

But the play that will have all the Terps fans singing Tagovailoa’s praises down at Looney’s Pub on Baltimore Avenue in College Park came late in the game, with the Terrapins clinging to a two-point lead. Maryland faced a critical 3rd-and-5 at their own 40-yard line, with just over six minutes remaining in the game. That’s when Tagovailoa faded into the pocket before finding Rakim Jarrett for this 60-yard score:

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That gave Maryland a nine-point lead, but the Mountaineers responded with a field goal to cut the contest to just a one-score game. That is why Tagovailoa’s third down run on the final possession was critical, as it allowed the Terrapins to run out the clock:

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This was the first meeting between these nonconference rivals since 2015. West Virginia entered Saturday having won nine of the previous ten matchups. But on this afternoon the right arm of Taulia Tagovailoa, coupled with tremendous afternoons from both Demus and Jarrett (Demus finished with six receptions for 133 yards and Jarrett added six more catches for 122), proved the difference.