Terps turn up heat in first half, win again
Hills effective again as Durkin era begins with two consecutive victories
MIAMI — The 90-degree game-time temperature and accompanying humidity Friday night at Ocean Bank Field were no problem for a Maryland football team that had spent much of its preseason camp practicing under a searing midday sun in College Park. Nor was Florida International a problem. After watching fellow Big Ten Conference member Indiana struggle here against the Panthers for three quarters in the season opener a week ago, the Terps wanted to make sure not to give the Conference USA team any hope. They didn’t. With senior quarterback Perry Hills picking up where he left off in the first half last Saturday against Howard, the Terps built a 31-7 halftime lead and cruised to a 41-14 win, the second straight lopsided victory for new coach DJ Durkin.
Hills started slowly, then picked it up when he started playing catch with sophomore receiver D.J. Moore. The two combined for five passes, including a 21-yard flea flicker from Moore to Hills and a more conventional 45-yard touchdown pass to Moore, for 119 yards in the first half alone.
Playing a little less than three quarters, Hills finished 13-for-18 for 210 yards and Next Saturday, 7 p.m. TV: CBS Sports Network Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM
three touchdowns. Moore, who turned a short pass from Hills into a 40-yard touchdown in the second half, finished with a career-high 147 yards receiving on six catches.
The Maryland defense also scored its first touchdown of the season, on a first-quarter interception return by junior linebacker Jermaine Carter.
On the game’s opening possession, FIU (0-2) drove from its 23-yard line to the Maryland 39, where the Terps (2-0) stiffened. After forcing a fourth-and-3 by finally getting pressure on Panthers quarterback Alex McGough, junior linebacker Shane Cockerille (Gilman) tackled running back Alex Gardner for a loss.
On Maryland’s opening possession, the Terps drove from their 43 to the FIU 5. But Maryland’s drive stalled after graduate transfer running back Trey Edmunds was stuffed for a 4-yard loss. Junior Adam Greene (Broadneck) kicked a 28-yard field goal to cap the drive.
After Maryland’s second possession went backward, punter Wade Lees buried the Panthers at their 3. On third down from the10, McGough’s pass was tipped by senior cornerback Alvin Hill into the hands of Carter, who returned it 10 yards for a touchdown.
The fourth interception by McGough this season, and third returned for a touchdown, was costly for the senior quarterback, who was injured trying to make the tackle. He was replaced by redshirt freshman Maurice Alexander.
It didn’t seem to make a difference, as the Panthers kept self-destructing with penalties on offense. Maryland kept taking advantage. This time, it was freshman running back Lorenzo Harrison breaking off a 40-yard run for a touchdown to help give the Terps a17-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Just when it appeared Maryland would have another easy game, FIU fans finally got something to cheer as Gardner took a 55-yard carry down to the Terps 3-yard line. He scored on the next play to cut Maryland’s lead to 17-7 with 9:21 left in the first half.
FIU’s comeback didn’t last long. It took all of 84 seconds for the Terps to go 79 yards, all but 2 of them on passes from Hills to Moore, who got behind a Panthers defender for a 45-yard touchdown.
Hills and the Terps soon went right back to work, getting possession and plodding their way toward the FIU goal line. After converting on fourth-and-2, Hills hit tight end Derrick Hayward for his first career touchdown. Maryland held a 31-7 lead with 56 seconds left in the first half.
The Terps started the second half as they began the first, with a good drive that stalled and a short field goal by Greene, this time Maryland freshman running back Lorenzo Harrison rushes for a 40-yard touchdown in the second quarter. After scoring 52 points against Howard last week, the Terps have 93 points in two games this season under new coach DJ Durkin. from 28 yards. It increased the lead to 34-7 and boosted Durkin’s record for most points scored for a coach in his first Maryland season after the 52-13 win over Howard last weekend.
In1945, in his only season in College Park, the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant’s Terps scored a combined 80 points in his first two games.
The only thing that seemed to slow the Terps in the second half was a typical South Florida squall that started midway through the third quarter. Though it lasted only a few minutes, it helped empty the half-filled stands, except for the hearty Panthers marching band filling several rows and a loud contingent of Maryland fans who had made the trip. Quarterback Perry Hills was 13-for-18 for 210 yards and three touchdowns.