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Maryland took an early lead on the road at Virginia, and held off a late Cavalier comeback to improve to 2-0 in conference play.
Maryland took an early lead on the road at Virginia, and held off a late Cavalier comeback to improve to 2-0 in conference play with a 27-20 victory in Charlottesville.
Stefon Diggs gave Maryland an early 7-0 lead with a kick return on a touchdown, and Anthony Nixon intercepted a Phillip Sims pass on Virginia's first drive to give the Terps the ball back immediately. After a Diggs first down, Justus Pickett scored on a 20-yard reception in which he made a nice cut inside before sprinting untouched to the end zone.
The Terps also scored a field goal in the quarter, after Diggs had a 60-yard reception to set up a 33-yard kick from Brad Craddock. Maryland led 17-0 after the first.
After Virginia scored a field goal in the second quarter, the Cavaliers scored ten unanswered points in the third, led by a rejuvenated Kevin Parks on the ground. Sims threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to E.J. Scott, and after a Perry Hills fumble, Ian Frye hit his second field goal of the game.
In the fourth, Maryland woke up. After a nice kick return from Diggs, Hills threw a nice pass to Marcus Leak for a first down, and later completed a 22-yarder to Matt Furstenburg, who made a fantastic play to hold on to it. Two plays later, Hills kept the ball himself, running up the middle for a six-yard score, giving the Terps a 24-14 lead.
Three drives later, another turnover struck. Sims dropped back to pass and was hit from behind by Darin Drakeford, who knocked the ball free. A.J. Francis, who also blocked a field goal, recovered, and Maryland turned that possession into a 28-yard Craddock field goal.
After Sims got sacked by Joe Vellano on the first play of Virginia's next drive, the Cavaliers brought in Michael Rocco. After a seven-yard rush, Rocco completed three straight passes, and eventually connected with tight end Jake McGee in the end zone for a 24-yard score, bringing Virginia back within a score.
The Cavaliers had one last chance to tie it up after Maryland went three-and-out, but Rocco had four straight incompletions to end the game.
The Terps were badly outgained by Virginia (386-235), but were more effective through the air (9.1 yards per attempt versus 5.6 for the Cavaliers). The Hoos were especially hurt by the penalty disparity - they committed seven penalties for 70 yards to the young Terps' one for five yards.
Maryland was unable to get anything going on the ground, and despite Pickett's success in the receiving game, he had a dreadful game without Wes Brown to help him out. He finished with 15 carries for -8 yards. Perry Hills was actually the Terps' leading rusher, with seven carries for seven yards.
Hills did well in the air, completing 14 of 26 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown. Diggs had the most yards of his receivers (89), but Leak was once against his most consistent target, catching five passes for 68 yards.
Diggs only had seven touches in this game, but did well for himself - he had 236 total yards on offense, including that opening score and that huge reception that set up a field goal.
The defense looked very good again, even if there were moments of porousness in the third and fourth quarters. Kevin Parks had 17 rushes for 129 yards for Virginia, but didn't break any huge gains (his long was a 26-yarder) and was held without a score. Sims finished the game 13/28 for 139 yards, a score, and an interception, and Rocco was 5/11 for 79 yards and a touchdown.
They also made big plays when they had to - even though the ball was kicked right to him, A.J. Francis made a good play to block the kick. He later recovered a fumble, and Anthony Nixon came up with the interception. Throw in big tackles from Jeremiah Johnson, Dexter McDougle, Darin Drakeford, and the always-dominant Joe Vellano, and you have a great performance from a growing team.
For the Terps, it's a big win for a young team that has now won twice as many games as they did last year. The young team never actually gave up the early lead, came together, and scored late to improve to 4-2. Maryland now improbably stands on top of the Atlantic Division in the ACC, and will look forward to a home date against a 4-2 North Carolina State team next week.