UM takes 1st step

Despite a few flaws, Terps embrace win in opener

September 03, 2006|By Heather A. Dinich | Heather A. Dinich,Sun Reporter

COLLEGE PARK -- It didn't seem to matter who it was against, or what Division I-AA conference they came from.

It was a win, something the Maryland football team desperately needed to start this year after consecutive losing seasons. An impressive running game was tempered by turnovers, and the team struggled to convert third downs, but the result was a 27-14 win in the season opener against William and Mary yesterday before a Byrd Stadium crowd of 49,763.

"We still have a lot of work to do, and we still have a lot of polishing to get done, but today we won the game, and really, that's all that matters at the end," said linebacker Wesley Jefferson, who led Maryland with 11 tackles. "This is just a step forward."

Maryland moved the ball with bursts of speed on the ground and a few deep pass plays, but fumbled three times and twice had to rely on kicker Dan Ennis for field goals when inside the red zone.

Senior quarterback Sam Hollenbach completed nine of 15 passes for 153 yards and no interceptions - a statistic that plagued him last fall.

"One of the goals I have for this year is playing smart, knowing situations, especially near the red zone," Hollenbach said. "When we get inside the 20 - the 30-yard line even - we've got to get points. It's my responsibility to make sure that happens. It was an even game for me. The offensive line and the running backs did all the work."

As promised, coach Ralph Friedgen made use of all three of his top running backs, and Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore combined for 175 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Senior Josh Allen had six carries for 25 yards.

"I think that's the strength of our team," Friedgen said. "If we can get our offensive line jelling, and can get some of the receivers coming on and making some plays and throwing the ball where it has to be thrown, I think we have a chance to have a good offense. I still feel that way."

Friedgen gave credit to strong blocking by his offensive line, but noted that the absence of right tackle Jared Gaither, who was held out for disciplinary reasons, didn't give Dane Randolph any relief. Gaither was also suspended for the first two weeks of preseason camp, but Friedgen said yesterday's decision was unrelated.

"He'll play next week," Friedgen said. "To me, the slate is clean on him. We could've used him tonight. I think Dane Randolph got real tired at the end."

So did Maryland's defense.

Late in the game, the Tribe started to filter through Maryland's defense, as the Terps allowed a 49-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Mike Potts to reserve receiver D.J. McAulay. McAulay finished with a game-high 82 yards on five catches. William and Mary finished with 310 yards of total offense.

"After a while, [Maryland] started to slow down, and we started clicking on offense," said Tribe running back Elijah Brooks, a former prep star at DeMatha who was held to 62 yards on 17 carries. "They have a very good defense, but if we had executed a few more times, the score would have been a little different."

Only 56 yards of total offense separated the two teams, but Hollenbach connected with several different inexperienced receivers yesterday for significant yardage.

A 42-yard pass to tight end Joey Haynos on the Terps' second drive set up a touchdown and 7-0 lead with 8:04 left in the first quarter. Hollenbach also threw a 38-yard pass to Danny Oquendo on third-and-11 with a William and Mary defender wrapped around his waist. That led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Lattimore and a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.

Finally, on Maryland's last drive of the first half, Isaiah Williams caught a 47-yard pass from Hollenbach that set up Ball's 3-yard touchdown run.

One of the things Friedgen lamented about last season was his team's frequent turnovers, and said he would be watching for them again yesterday.

The Terps gave him more than he wanted to see.

In addition to the three fumbles, backup quarterback Jordan Steffy threw one interception.

"As long as you have turnovers, you give the other team a chance to win," Friedgen said. "And conversely, we're not getting any turnovers. We work pretty hard at it and we don't seem to get any."

Oquendo dropped a pass on Maryland's first drive and it was recovered by cornerback Derek Cox. Isaiah Gardner fumbled on a punt return - a costly mistake that led to a William and Mary touchdown on its first drive of the second quarter. Jake Phillips threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Elliott Mack for the Tribe's first score.

Phillips sustained that drive with a 23-yard pass to Joe Nicholas on third-and-10.

"We've got a long way to go yet," Friedgen said. "This is a start. We have to get better next week. ... I'm not satisfied, but I'm not disappointed either."

Note -- Maryland receiver Drew Weatherly did not play because of an injured right

College football recap

Mids on the run / /Quarterback Brian Hampton carried 34 times for 149 yards and one touchdown in his first start, and Navy rolled up 403 yards rushing to hold off East Carolina, 28-23. Article, 7D

Big-play Vols / / In the only matchup of Top 25 teams, No. 23 Tennessee used four scoring plays of more than 40 yards to upend ninth-ranked California, 35-18. Article, 5D

Vince who? / / Redshirt freshman Colt McCoy passed for three touchdowns as Texas opened with a 56-7 rout of North Texas and John David Booty threw three second-half TDs in his first USC start, a 50-14 win over Arkansas.

Next week / / It's the first BIG game in the race for the national championship as No. 1 Ohio State visits No. 3 Texas.

Coverage, 5-8D

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