Terps hold off Temple's late charge for 36-27 victory

Maryland led 26-3 at halftime, but Owls rally in second half

  • Terps wide receiver Stefon Diggs, center, looks for running room in the first quarter against Temple at Lincoln Financial Field.
Terps wide receiver Stefon Diggs, center, looks for running… (U.S. Presswire )
September 08, 2012|By Jeff Barker | The Baltimore Sun

PHILADELPHIA — PHILADELPHIA — All of the fumbles, the growing pains, the raft of preseason injuries — none of it seemed to matter as Maryland players celebrated in a joyous locker room after they held on to claim their first road victory in 22 months.

With its 36-27 victory over Temple on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field, Maryland (2-0) matched its win total from 2011. The Terps ended a 10-game losing streak to Football Bowl Subdivision foes, winning on the road for the first time since November 2010.

The Terps lost four fumbles — all by freshmen — and nearly gave away a 23-point, third-quarter lead. As Maryland’s lead slipped from 23 points to 16 points and finally to 2 points, older Terps may have caught themselves thinking about how last year’s team surrendered a 27-point lead in losing at N.C. State.

This year’s team hopes to be more resilient. The postgame, locker-room shouts — loud enough to be heard in the stadium tunnel — were from a team that believes it is learning to finish games. They would go to 3-0 with a victory over Connecticut next week.

“I told the guys we’ve got to be a 60-minute team,” Maryland coach Randy Edsall said.

Maryland faced adversity in various forms in the win. There was freshman quarterback Perry Hills getting his helmet pulled off by a Temple player in the third quarter — a facemask penalty was assessed – and suffering a gash and lump on his forehead.

“I knew I cut it a little bit because there was blood on my helmet and stuff like that,” said Hills, a former state champion high-school wrestler. “I’m used to getting head-butted and stuff like that from wrestling and taking a lot of slams.”

Hills, who threw for 190 yards and his first two college touchdowns , remained in the game and led the decisive, 75-yard scoring drive at the end.

The Terps took the ball with 7:04 remaining and Temple trailing 29-27. By then, the Owls had rebounded from a first half in which they had 34 yards of offense, 6 passing yards and four fumbles (two lost). The announced crowd of 23,322 was getting louder.

Hills faced third-and-11 on Maryland’s 49-yard-line when he made one of the key plays of the game. The quarterback lofted a 38-yard pass to freshman receiver Stefon Diggs, who caught it near the sideline at Temple’s 13.

“It was a beautiful ball by Perry – outside shoulder,” Diggs said. “I said a prayer while it was in the air.”

At the time, Diggs was trying to atone for an error — a fumbled punt early in the fourth quarter. “I play with a lot of emotion, so that muff — it got to me. I felt like I had to make up for it somewhere,” he said.

Diggs’ former Good Counsel teammate — running back Wes Brown — fumbled twice. Edsall said he told Brown, who carried seven times for 50 yards: “This is college football. This isn’t Good Counsel football anymore. Wes knows he made a mistake.”

Three plays after Diggs’ catch, Justus Pickett ran it in from 7 yards, giving the Terps a decisive score with 2:51 left.

After not winning a game on the road last season, Maryland had been desperate for an early road victory. The Terps had extra incentive because many remembered Temple’s 38-7 victory in 2011 in which running back Bernard Pierce, now a member of the Ravens, had a school-record five touchdowns.

“We knew they were coming up here for a revenge game,” said Temple kicker Brandon McManus, who had two field goals.

The kicker’s only miss – from 23 yards – was blocked by Maryland defensive lineman A.J. Francis.

“I really felt bad at the end of last year’s (Temple) game and that feeling stuck with me for a long time,” Francis said.

Francis, who also had a fumble recovery, helped lead a defense that had not surrendered a touchdown in its first six quarters this season. The defense was playing again without injured linebacker Kenny Tate (knee) and safety Matt Robinson (shoulder).

Maryland, which switched to a 3-4 defense this season, pressured Temple into three turnovers. The Owls also twice snapped the ball over quarterback Chris Coyer’s head and had seven penalties for 72 yards.

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