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Scarlet Knights blow 21-point lead, squandering season finale in 46-41 loss to Maryland


PISCATAWAY, New Jersey — The biggest question facing Rutgers after a four-win season is the status of coach Kyle Flood.

Despite taking the Scarlet Knights to a bowl game in 2014 in their first season in the Big Ten Conference, Flood is on the hot seat after his team lost five of its final six games in a turbulent season that saw the coach suspended three games for trying to influence a player's grade and six players dismissed for off-the-field problems.

"This has been a tough year," Flood said. "We're all disappointed. I'm in no way trying to move the focus off of it. We're disappointed. We're a 4-8 football team. We're not happy about it, but we're going to go back to work tomorrow."

Flood's position wasn't helped on Saturday when Rutgers squandered a 21-point lead in dropping a 46-41 decision to Maryland.

Brandon Ross provided the winning margin, scoring on an 80-yard run with 4:40 to play to help Maryland (3-9, 1-7) snap an eight-game losing streak.

"I haven't spoken to anybody in the university. Nobody has given me any indication that I wouldn't be the football coach," Flood said when asked if he has gotten any clarification about his job status. "I get those questions, and I think the shame of those type of questions is they lead other people to believe that there's some question about it. To my knowledge, there's no question about it. I'm the head football coach."

Chris Laviano threw a career-best four touchdowns and Paul James ran for a touchdown for Rutgers (4-8, 1-7).

Despite the issues, and late-season spiral, Flood's players supported their head coach, who has a career record of 27-24.

"He's the right guy for the program. I've felt like that since Day One ever since Coach Flood took over in 2012 when I first got here," Leonte Carroo said. "He's the right man. He fits the team well. Guys love him. That's the right guy right there."

PHOTO: Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood speaks to the media during a news conference after an NCAA college football game against Maryland Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, in Piscataway, N.J. Maryland won 46-41. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood speaks to the media during a news conference after an NCAA college football game against Maryland Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, in Piscataway, N.J. Maryland won 46-41. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Ross ran for three touchdowns for the second straight game and Ty Johnson carried for two more as the Terrapins gave interim coach Mike Locksley his first win in six games.

Ross' go-ahead score came on the first play from scrimmage after Kyle Federico had put Rutgers ahead 41-39 with a 30-yard field goal with 4:57 to play.

Kenneth Goins Jr. had given Maryland its first lead at 39-39 with a 42-yard touchdown run with 8:43 to play.

Ross carried 28 times for 173 yards and also scored on runs of 16 yards and 1 yard. Johnson tallied on run of 43 and 44 yards and backup quarterback Caleb Rowe came off the bench in the second quarter and threw for 239 yards and ran for 98.

Maryland finished with 401 yards rushing and had 656 yards in total offense, the first time it has passed the 600-yard mark since 2004.

"Didn't want it to go that way but we got to do a better job," senior linebacker Quentin Gause said.

Laviano's touchdown passes covered 6 yards to Carroo, 6 yards to Josh Hicks, 7 yards to Janarion Grant and 1 yard to Charles Scarff.

Scarff's first career touchdown gave the Scarlet Knights a 38-27 lead late in the third quarter, but it would not be enough to hold off Maryland, which limited Rutgers to 10 second-half points after its biggest first half of the season.

Carroo, playing his final game, had seven catches for a career-best 183 yards, including a one-hander along the sideline.

Laviano finished 21 of 33 for 344 yards and one interception. The pick came at the start of the second half with Rutgers ahead 31-13 and it set up Ross' first touchdown from 16 yards out.

Trailing 31-10 late in the second quarter after a 6-yard touchdown run by James, the Terps got back in the game by reeling off 17 straight points to close the gap to 31-27 on Johnson's 44-yard run.

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