Statham leaves no doubt in UM's rout of Temple

Quarterback asserts himself in No. 23 Terps' 45-22 win

September 12, 2004|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK - Minutes before halftime last night in Maryland's 45-22 win over Temple, Joel Statham stood tall in the pocket, surveying the field. He looked to his right, only to find his first option covered. With Temple's defense closing in fast, he turned to his left, made eye contact downfield with wide receiver Derrick Fenner, and then did something technically brilliant and athletically picturesque.

He pump-faked.

Fenner, who was being shadowed closely by Temple defensive back Jamil Porter, spun up the field and broke toward the goal line.

Without hesitation, Statham lofted a soft spiral to Fenner's outside shoulder, and Fenner pulled it in for a 14-yard touchdown. All Porter could do was shake his head.

It was the perfect throw on the perfect play in a relatively easy victory for the No. 23 Terps (2-0) before 51,292 at Byrd Stadium, but more importantly, it was convincing evidence that Statham appears to be getting the hang of this quarterback thing after all.

"We were kind of unsure about what was going on," Statham said. "I looked to the right and saw a guy fly out to the hitch and was like, `Uh-oh.' I was stuck in a hard place. I looked back, and Derrick kind of read my mind. He went to the back of the end zone and I threw it there. He made a great catch. ... I felt a lot more comfortable out there. I was decisive, and I knew what the defense was doing. It just happened to go well for me tonight."

True, Temple (0-2) won just one game a year ago, and the Owls are expected to finish near the bottom of the Big East Conference again. But the win was important because Statham, who committed four turnovers last week against Northern Illinois, looked confident and calm in just his second start, completing 18 of 25 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns.

"I thought Joel played well tonight," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "What you saw tonight is what we see in practice. He ad-libbed on that play [to Fenner], and he kept his composure in some situations. I'm hoping he'll get better the more he plays."

Statham's passing, and the powerful running of tailback Sammy Maldonado, helped Maryland score touchdowns on each of its first four possessions as the Terps jumped out to a 28-0 halftime lead.

The game was never really in doubt from that point, as Maldonado finished with a career-high 106 yards on 18 carries, helping the Terps earn 471 yards of total offense.

Maldonado, who got the bulk of the carries after Josh Allen sat out the second half with an undisclosed injury, was so eager to pick up yardage that he ran over a few of his teammates in the process.

"I never stop," Maldonado said. "If [offensive linemen] are in my way, and there's no way I can move, I just have to bang them up. I tell them I'm sorry after every play, and they understand. I'm not one to make a lot of moves, so I just go in there and get 5 yards."

Temple quarterback Walter Washington ran for two touchdowns in the second half, but the Owls never got closer than 16 points, thanks to a Maryland defense that played well despite losing one of its best players.

Terps middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson left the game in the second quarter with a hyper-extended left elbow, and watched the second half from the sidelines with the arm wrapped in ice. Friedgen said he doesn't expect Jackson to miss Saturday's game against No. 10 West Virginia.

Aside from losing Jackson, things pretty much went Maryland's way most of the night. Friedgen wasn't pleased with the play of his second-team defense, however. Maryland pulled most of its starters at the end of the third quarter and against the Terps' reserves - many of them freshmen - Temple added two late touchdowns to cut the deficit to 38-22.

"I got after them a bunch," Friedgen said. "I said don't be complaining to me about not playing if you can't produce. We're still going to play them, because we need to develop that depth, but they're either going to get better or I'm going to find new people. Let's just say I wasn't the kinder, gentler Ralph with the second team today."

But the Terps sent their first unit back onto the field in the closing minutes, and defensive lineman Henry Scott recovered a Temple fumble in the end zone for Maryland's final touchdown.

When Statham was in the game, Maryland was in full control. On their first possession, the Terps marched down the field in nine plays and jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Statham to Jo Jo Walker.

Minutes later, Maldonado made it 14-0 on a 1-yard plunge, capping off a possession where he carried the ball six times and caught one pass.

Maryland got the ball back again, thanks in part to a sack by blitzing cornerback Gerrick McPhearson, and 14 plays later it was 21-0 as Allen scored on a 5-yard run. On the drive, Statham completed a 13-yard pass to Drew Weatherly on third-and-11, and up to that point, Maryland was 8-for-8 on third-down conversions.

Statham made it 28-0 on the next possession with his touchdown to Fenner. It was set up by a 43-yard completion to Steve Suter on third-and-19.

"Defensively, every time we got them in a long-yardage situation, they completed passes," said Temple coach Bobby Wallace.

Next for Terps

Matchup: No. 23 Maryland (2-0) vs. No. 10 West Virginia (2-0)

Site: Mountaineer Field, Morgantown, W.Va.

When: Saturday, noon

TV/Radio: ESPN2/ WIYY (97.9 FM)

Yesterday: West Virginia beat Central Florida, 45-20.

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