Saturday’s win could spark Terps and Pigrome
Freshman QB scores TD on his only play
ORLANDO, FLA. — One play rarely defines a team’s season, particularly if it occurs in the first month.
One moment typically doesn’t catapult a player to immediate stardom, though its effect might be later recalled as a catalyst.
What happened late Saturday night in Maryland’s wild 30-24 double-overtime win over Central Florida at Bright House Networks Stadium could turn out to be formative for the 2016 Terps and true freshman quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome.
With the Terps missing opportunities to put Central Florida away, Pigrome’s 24-yard touchdown run on the only snap he took produced a potential launching point for him and the rest of first-year coach DJ Durkin’s team.
Coming in when fifth-year senior Perry Hills fell hard on his right shoulder after being tackled following a 1-yard gain, Pigrome raced through the middle of the Knights’ defense, going nearly untouched into the end zone the last 15 yards and setting off a raucous celebration for Maryland (3-0).
It was the first double-overtime win for the Terps since 2000, when Maryland won at North Carolina State in Ralph Friedgen’s first season — giving the team the Atlantic Coast Conference championship and a trip to the Orange Bowl, which remains its only BCS bowl appearance.
Asked if he thought this game will be remembered years from now for its significance, Durkin said, “I hope so, I think it’s a program-builder.”
Even though the Terps came in a 101⁄ point favorite against a Maryland wideout Teldrick Morgan gets tackled for a loss by UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin during the Terps’ 30-24 double-overtime win. team that had gone winless a year ago under former coach George O’Leary and was coming off a 51-14 rout at Michigan under new coach Scott Frost, Maryland struggled on both sides of the ball.
It didn’t seem to matter to Durkin.
“To go on the road in college football and win games is not easy,” he said. “How many upsets were there today elsewhere? We believed this was the way this game was going to go.
“Not double overtime. We thought it was going to be a close game. They’re a good team. They’re talented. Their pride was tested last week. Their focus was on high alert.”
Offensively, the Terps seemed a bit overwhelmed at times by Central Florida’s speed and physicality. Hills, who helped force a second overtime by running on three straight plays — including a 20-yarder to set up his own 5-yard touchdown — was sacked five times.
Despite forcing three first-half turnovers, the Terps led at halftime 10-7. Despite a 64-yard kickoff return by senior Will Likely to start the second half and taking over at the UCF 33 on its first two possessions of the half, Maryland squandered a number of opportunities to score. Big Ten opener Oct. 1, 3:30 p.m. TV: TBA Radio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM
Junior kicker Adam Greene (Broadneck) missed two of his three field-goal attempts.
Hills, who had completed 73 percent of his passes the first two games, leading the Big Ten, was off-target most of the night (10of-23 for 127 yards).
One of Hills’ better passes was dropped at the UCF 5 by wide receiver Malcolm Culmer.
“It was pretty frustrating for me, I know it was frustrating for us as a team,” senior running back Kenneth Goins Jr. (Gilman) said of the team’s offensive troubles. “We just had to keep going. We couldn’t let not scoring off those turnovers affect us. We knew it was going to be hard because we’re away, in that type of environment. We had to keep our head down and keep working.”
Defensively, Maryland spent most of the night chasing Central Florida freshman quarterback McKenzie Milton, who was promoted from third-team to starter Friday when senior Justin Holman was ruled out with an injury. Milton got out of trouble with his legs and his arm.
Milton made several big plays on third-and-long, including a 31-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith in the first overtime. On the play, replays appeared to show Smith running out of bounds before being bumped by Likely as he caught the ball.
“He definitely hurt us scrambling out of the pocket,” Durkin said of Milton, who finished 21-of-36 for 260 yards and two touchdowns. “A lot of those third downs were broken-down plays, throwing the ball up in the air and him scrambling. We’ve got to get that solved on defense.”
Pigrome’s touchdown came a few minutes after Milton’s fourth turnover — an inadvertent backward pass that was ruled a fumble.
“Pigrome, the guy’s got ice in his veins,” Durkin said. “There was nothing big about the moment for him.”
Durkin, whose team played its third straight game without a turnover, said he never thought his team was going to lose.
“I kept looking in the eyes of the guys on the sideline and seeing how they were responding and they were looking back, they were making eye contact, they were in it,” Durkin said. “To me, that’s the biggest thing.”
The victory helped keep Maryland’s momentum going into a week off before the Terps open the Big Ten Conference season Oct. 1 against Purdue (1-1) in College Park.
“We’re slowly upping the ante, slowly approaching league play, we’re just trying to got to get ready,” Goins said. “We’ll be ready by then.”