Maryland Terps seek new beginning in opener vs W&M
Maryland edges William & Mary 7-6 on late score
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - Justus Pickett ran for a 6-yard touchdown with 9:52 left in the fourth quarter, and Brad Craddock added the tie-breaking extra point to give Maryland a 7-6 victory over William & Mary in the season opener for both teams Saturday.
Maryland gave a sloppy performance against its Football Championship Subdivision opponent, which led most of the game before losing its opener for the 10th time in 11 years.
The Terrapins won despite turning the ball over four times and missing a short field goal.
Freshman quarterback Perry Hills, in his first collegiate start, completed 16 of 24 for 145 yards and directed the winning 10-play, 69-yard drive, but he threw three interceptions.
Maryland defensive back Dexter McDougle was called for three pass-interference penalties. Two of them came in the first quarter, when Maryland had many of its problems.
The Terrapins turned the ball over three times in the first quarter, when the Tribe took a 6-0 lead on two Drake Kuhn field goals. Maryland missed a short field goal in the second quarter and left the field at halftime to loud boos from the Byrd Stadium crowd.
Hills threw an interception on Maryland's second play of the game. DeAndre Houston-Carson picked if off to give the Tribe possession at the Terrapins' 34-yard line.
The Maryland defense held and Kuhn kicked a 30-yard field goal for an early 3-0 lead. Later in the quarter, Brian Thompson intercepted Hills as he was being hit and returned the ball 32 yards to the Maryland 9-yard line.
The Terrapins held again, and Kuhn's 22-yard field goal gave William & Mary a 6-0 lead with 2:56 left in the quarter.
Maryland turned the ball over a third time in the first quarter when Albert Reid fumbled on a run. The Tribe started driving but got a bad break when quarterback Brent Caprio's pass was bobbled by Keith McBride and grabbed by defensive end Joe Vellano at the Maryland 22.
Hills then directed Maryland's best drive of the first half midway through the second quarter. He moved the Terrapins 63 yards in 12 plays to a third-and-6 at the William & Mary 7, but missed a wide-open Devonte Campbell in the back of the end zone.
Craddock came on but missed a 25-yard field goal wide left.
Earlier: Maryland Terps seek new beginning in opener vs W&M
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) - For nine months, coach Randy Edsall and the players on the Maryland football team have been forced to live with the indignity that comes with a 2-10 season.
Now, finally, they have an opportunity to change the public perception of the program.
Maryland opens the 2012 season Saturday at home against William & Mary. The significance of the game for the Terrapins cannot be understated.
"There are a lot of people who doubt what we can do," said Edsall, now in his second season at Maryland. "We have a chance to go out and show who we are and what we are all about."
After taking over for Ralph Friedgen in January 2011, Edsall launched a new era of Maryland football with a 32-24 Atlantic Coast Conference win over Miami. The Terrapins showed off their new uniforms in a nationally televised game before sellout crowd.
That, unfortunately, was the high point of the season. The Terrapins won only one more game, against FCS foe Towson, before closing with eight straight defeats.
"We started last season on a good note. We just couldn't prolong it," defensive end A.J. Francis said. "This year, hopefully we can mimic that first week of success and build off of it. Hopefully, this can be a great year for us."
It wasn't a very good summer for the Terrapins, who lost several players to injury - most notably starting quarterback C.J. Brown (torn right ACL). That means true freshman Perry Hills will be running the offense behind a relatively inexperienced line.
Hills will learn under fire against a William & Mary team that knows all about facing ACC foes on the road. The Tribe beat Virginia in the 2009 opener and led North Carolina in the fourth quarter in 2010. Last year, however, a 40-3 loss to Virginia sent them spiraling to a 5-6 record.
"The guys have been pretty consistent about working to improve," coach Jimmye Laycock said. "Once we get a ready to play a game, we'll see."
After Saturday, William & Mary, of the Colonial Athletic Association, will face such teams such as Georgia State, Penn and Maine. None of those teams have the history and tradition - or the size - of Maryland.
"We're playing against a very established program," Laycock said. "These are games that stay with them for the rest of their lives. It's an opportunity once a year for them to try themselves out and challenge themselves against a bigger school, a bigger program and at a bigger stadium, and see what you can do. To me, that's all part of their college football experience."
The last thing Maryland needs to lose at home against an FCS opponent, so the Terrapins will not be taking the Tribe lightly.
"That's a good football team," right tackle Justin Gilbert said. "Some of the guys have 30-some starts. They're a get-to-the-ball team, very physical."
For the Tribe, losers of nine of their last 10 openers, a victory would be something to cherish for the rest of their lives. For Maryland, a win would be the first step toward moving beyond that 2-10 disaster.
"We want to get Maryland football back on track, and I think we're heading in the right direction," All-ACC defensive lineman Joe Vellano said.
"This is it," Gilbert said. "All the hard work you've done is about to pay off in that first game."