Champs Sports Bowl

Champs, in a romp

Terps take 21-point lead, win third bowl in row

Maryland 24 Purdue 7

December 30, 2006|By Heather A. Dinich | Heather A. Dinich,Sun Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. -- It was already midnight, but his smudged eye black and red uniform were still on. Maryland quarterback Sam Hollenbach gripped his Most Valuable Player trophy, and as he stood to leave the post-game news conference late last night, coach Ralph Friedgen looked him in the eye and said, "I'm glad you decided to stay."

So was he.

Playing in his first bowl game and last game for the Terps, Hollenbach capped a rocky career in which he came close to transferring with a nearly flawless performance in a 24-7 win against Purdue (8-6) in the Champs Sports Bowl.

It was Maryland's first appearance in a bowl game in three seasons, and the Terps (9-4) played perhaps their most complete game of the year before a record Champs Sports Bowl crowd of 40,168. Hollenbach redeemed himself for the five interceptions he threw in the final two losses of the regular season and completed 15 of 24 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns, including a 46-yard pass in the second quarter that put Maryland ahead 21-0.

"You have to have a good quarterback if you're going to have a winning team," Friedgen said. "At the start of this year, one of the reasons why I thought we had a chance to win the ACC and nobody else did was that we had a quarterback who had been through a whole season. The previous two years we hadn't had that."

The previous two seasons were back-to-back 5-6 finishes that kept the Terps home for the holidays, but this was the third straight bowl win for the program. Friedgen is the only coach in the program's history to have won three straight.

"It's very satisfying because not only did they work very hard, so did I - probably the hardest I've ever worked as a coach in my life," he said. "Sometimes when things aren't going your way, you wonder why you're working this hard. It's supposed to get easier when you're 60 years old, and this seems to be getting harder. The fact we can finish this thing 9-4 ... with the schedule we have, it's a heck of a season and something these kids, especially our seniors, should be very proud of."

Maryland had prepared all week for an offense it hadn't seen before - and succeeded in holding the Boilermakers to just one touchdown in the first half - but it was Maryland that showed a few wrinkles in the playbook.

The Terps, which had been out-gained in every game this year except the season opener, totaled 429 yards of offense and matched its biggest lead of the year at 21-0.

Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey had four catches for 81 yards and a touchdown, and running back Lance Ball rushed for 98 yards on 18 carries. Keon Lattimore added 85 yards on 20 carries.

"We were just hyped from the beginning of the game," Heyward-Bey said. "Coming over here on the bus, it was quiet but you could see in the guys' eyes we wanted to get a win. We wanted to finish off 9-4, not 8-5. Scoring points early gave our offense the chance to hold the ball, run down the clock and win the game."

Four players had gains of at least 23 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown pass from Hollenbach to Heyward-Bey that seemed to put the game out of reach early. It was a perfect throw, as Purdue cornerback Terrell Vinson was on Heyward-Bey's heels.

It helped that Maryland was facing a rushing defense that had allowed an average of 190.1 yards, the worst in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers also entered last night's game last in the league in total defense, allowing 432.7 yards per game.

Friedgen said earlier this week that he was going to wait until after the bowl game to decide if he would continue his role as offensive coordinator, but he didn't hesitate to try something different last night.

Maryland's fullbacks had run the ball just one time in the past two seasons until last night, when Friedgen put it in the hands of the only true freshman to play for the Terps this year.

Fullback Cory Jackson, who took over for an injured Tim Cesa on Oct. 28 against Florida State, had four carries for 12 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run that put Maryland ahead 14-0 with 13:33 left in the half. The Terps scored first when Hollenbach threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Joey Haynos with 4:33 left in the first quarter.

Purdue went three and out on its first possession, but started to move the ball on its second. The Boilermakers' dropped two passes during that series, though, and a 42-yard field-goal attempt by Chris Summer - who was 8 of 19 coming into the game - missed badly.

A 20-yard pass from Curtis Painter to Dorien Bryant set up the Boilermakers' lone touchdown . Painter followed that play with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Greg Orton with 30 seconds left on the clock, and Purdue went to the locker room trailing 21-7.

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