Offensively, the Tigers gained just 94 yards on the ground, 119 through the air and scored two touchdowns. As unattractive as that unit looked, the defense and special teams were pretty enough to help snap a three-game losing streak.
"I'd rather win ugly than lose pretty," said Kyle Parker, who completed 7 of 20 passes for 106 yards and rushed for a career-high 41 yards. "We've had some pretty losses. I'll trade them all for this one."
With the win, Clemson improved to 3-3 overall (1-2 in ACC). Maryland dropped to 4-2 (1-2 in ACC).
"We did what we had to do to win," said head coach Dabo Swinney. "The kickoff return for a touchdown by Andre [Ellington], our three picks on defense and our special teams unit played a major role in our win today."
Ellington returned a second-quarter kick 87 yards for a touchdown—Clemson's first kickoff return for six points since C.J. Spiller took one back for an 88-yard score in last year's game against South Carolina.
Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott hit quarterback Danny O'Brien for a 4-yard touchdown pass on a throwback play on the previous drive, which gave the Terrapins a 7-3 lead.
"We needed a spark. That's what [Ellington] brought to us," Parker said.
The Terrapin defense dialed up blitzes from every which way throughout the afternoon, but sacked Parker only once. Clemson offensive coordinator Billy Napier was confident that there would be plenty of unwanted visitors in the Tigers' backfield.
"I know there were some tackles for loss, occasionally, here and there. For the most part, they did what we asked them to do," he said. "[Maryland] did a lot of different things that they had not been doing, in their open date preparation."
Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen didn't have enough time to prepare for Da'Quan Bowers, who terrorized the Terrapin backfield with three sacks.
"We were trying to do some things to help on Bowers," Friedgen said. "He's a good player. Like I said before the game, you have to get a running game going. You can't let these guys get going and just tee off and come after you."
Clemson allowed just 44 yards rushing, a product of improvement throughout the afternoon, according to defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.
"I thought the guys, in this particular game, they got stronger as the game went on," he said. "Every play, every series, every quarter—they just seemed to grow, get stronger and build momentum. That's what it takes, if you're going to be eventually a dominant football team."
Steele said creating turnovers and scoring opportunities for the offense was a goal for the defense during this week's preparation.
Maryland quarterback Danny O'Brien threw three fourth-quarter interceptions.
Xavier Brewer returned one 61 yards for a touchdown to give Clemson a 31-7 lead with 5:31 left in the game.
DeAndre McDaniel and Darius Robinson had the other picks.
"He eyed [the receiver] down the whole way. We he threw it, I broke, and I knew it was a touchdown," Brewer said.
With less than a minute to play in the first half, Jamie Harper scored on a 1-yard touchdown to cap a 13-play, 80-yard scoring drive—the longest of the season, in terms of plays and time of possession.
To go along with his touchdown return, Ellington scored on a 1-yard run with 11:02 left in the third quarter to give Clemson a 24-7 lead.
He wasn't the only integral part of the special teams' effort. The punt return team held Tony Logan to 28 yards on three returns. Coming into the game, the wide receiver was first in the country with 27.7 yards per return.
Chandler Catanzaro kicked a 42-yard field goal to give Clemson a 3-0 first quarter lead.
"We're going to take it one game at a time," McDaniel said. "We're going to play hard. We feel like we control our own destiny right now."
Tigers knock off Terrapins
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