The Terrapins walked off the field in Philadelphia with their heads held high after handing the Temple Owls their first loss of the season, a 36-27 Terrapin win that was much closer than the score indicated.
Maryland barely scraped out a 7-6 win against William & Mary last week while Temple easily ran through Villanova, 41-10. The Owls rushed for a team total of 301 yards against Villanova, forcing the Terps to focus on stopping the run in their preparations for the matchup against the Owls.
The Terps defense came up huge right from the start of the game as Temple running back Matt Brown fumbled the ball on the first offensive play. The ball was recovered by Maryland linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield, setting up Maryland's first score of the game as kicker Brad Craddock hit a 45-yard field goal to give the Terps a 3-0 lead.
The Owls' second drive was also cut short when Temple quarterback Chris Coyer fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Maryland defensive end A.J. Francis. But Maryland quarterback Perry Hills fumbled the ball away on the Terps' next possession, allowing Temple to tie the game up.
Maryland responded by piecing together a 57-yard drive that started with a 27-yard punt return by wide receiver Stefon Diggs who returned the punt to the Maryland 43-yard line. Hills capped off the drive by throwing his first touchdown pass of his college career to tight end Matt Furstenburg.
A sack by Francis on a third-and-4 forced Temple to punt the ball away on their next drive, which led to Hills throwing his second touchdown pass to Marcus Leak. Temple's cornerback bit on the play action play, allowing Hills to hit Leak for a 32-yard touchdown reception to give Maryland a 17-3 lead.
The offensive woes for Temple continued as a high snap flew over the head of Coyer, who rushed to the ball in the end zone, but was downed for a safety. On the ensuing drive, the Terps drove all the way down to the Owl's end zone where they faced a third-and-goal on the Temple 11. A bad snap was dropped by Hills, but the young quarterback picked it up and scampered into the end zone for his third touchdown of the day, giving the Terps a 26-3 lead entering the half.
The second half got off to a bad start by the Terps when running back Wes Brown fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Temple's Marcus Green. Coyer then completed a 28 yard pass to wide receiver Jalen Fitzpatrick after Coyer finished the first half with only one completion out of three attempts and six yards.
The Terps then responded with a scoring drive of their own. A sack by Temple's Anthony Robey forced the Terps to face a third-and-17, but Hills was able to find wide receiver Marcus Leak along the sidelines in double coverage for a 39-yard pass completion. He hit a wide open Leak again for 20 yards to march down the field, but the Terps could not find the end zone. Craddock's field goal attempt hit off the left upright but dropped in to give the Terps a 29-10.
The Owls were not out of the game yet, as Coyer hit wide receiver C.J. Hammond for a 62-yard touchdown. Maryland freshman safety Sean Davis bit on the play action fake, allowing Coyer to find a wide open Hammond with the deep ball. Maryland defensive end Joe Vellano then sacked Coyer on a third-and-long, but a muffed punt by Stefon Diggs gave the ball right back to the Temple, who had to line up for a field goal that was blocked by Francis and picked up by Maryland cornerback Jeremiah Johnson. But Brown fumbled the ball for the second time on the ensuing possession, setting up Coyer's second touchdown of the afternoon, a 35-yard pass to Fitzpatrick to cut Maryland's lead to 29-27.
The Terps managed to hang on, with Hills hitting Diggs for 38 yards to keep the drive alive on a third-and-11. Pickett delivered the finishing blow when on a third-and-4, he took the handoff and ran down the middle for a touchdown to clinch the game for the Terps. Hartsfield added an interception to his stat line by picking off a Coyer pass on a fourth-and-9 on the Owls' last drive.
Hills completed 11 out of 21 passes for 190 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing for 14 yards and a touchdown. Pickett finished with 69 yards and a touchdown and Brown came in second with 50 yards. Leak had 90 yards for the Terps and Diggs came in second with 59 yards.
For the Owls, Coyer completed seven out of 18 passes for 178, two touchdowns and an interception and led his team in rushing with 53 rushing yards. Matt Brown had 25 yards for the Owls and left in the first half due to an injury but returned later in the game. Jalen Fitzpatrick and C.J. Hammond led the Owls receivers with 64 and 62 yards respectively and a touchdown each.
The Terps' defense showed a lot of resiliency and an ability to close out games at the end. Temple's running game was a huge concern coming into the weekend matchup, but the Terps' held the Owls to just 46 rushing yards after their 301-yard rushing day last week.
The Terps will return home next week to play Maryland head coach Randy Edsall's former team, the Connecticut Huskies, at Byrd Stadium in College Park. The game will kick off at 12:30 p.m.