By Todd McElwee
In his first career start, sophomore running back Da’Rel Scott led the Terrapins with 197 yards on 26 carries. (Mitch Stringer/PressBox)
"I think I need to take a couple of more ice bags and keep stretching because I feel a little heavy right now," Scott said. "But it's going to get better."
Backing up Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore, Scott accounted for 137 yards on just 14 carries last year as a redshirt freshman. Finding a foothold on special teams, he posted a team-high 84.2 all-purpose yards per contest as a returner and was named an Atlantic Coast Conference freshman all-league performer.
Now the Terrapins' featured back, Scott's workload is at its heaviest. Coach Ralph Friedgen said runs Scott normally would have broken were cut short due to fatigue stemming from the summer. Even so, Scott managed to pound out scampers of 26, 27 and 40 yards on his way to a career day.
If last season was a sneak preview, Saturday was opening weekend. Poised and self assured, Scott expected and produced blockbuster results in his debut. His tally was the most for a Terrapin since Bruce Perry rushed for 237 yards against Wake Forrest in 2003.
As any good back should, Scott lavished praise on his offensive line. Holes were readily available and Scott hit them with precession. As a unit the line paved the way for 271 yards on the ground.
"It's definitely a plus," Scott said. "I got real comfortable in the spring. It's a plus being able to run behind them."
Maryland's offensive line is an assembly of battle-hardened veterans. Last Saturday wasn't their first rodeo. Members of the unit have blocked for a lot of backs and can recognize a special talent.
"All he needs is a crease," center Edwin Williams said. "Not taking anything away from Lance and Keon, but Da'Rel is that kind of back, that special back that can go the distance anytime."
Also making quite an entrance, freshman back Davin Meggett rushed for 52 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown, on just seven carries. He also had a 12-yard reception.
Wide receiver Darius Heyward-Bey hauled in four balls for 70 yards. Midway through the second quarter, he soared and pulled in a juggling 36-yard throw from quarterback Jordan Steffy for his 100th career catch. A play later, Heyward-Bey snaked into the end zone on a 12-yard reverse.
Aside from a few bright spots, the Terps' offense was little more than pedestrian. All three quarterbacks (Steffy, Chris Turner and Josh Portis) took snaps but only managed 126 yards on 11-of-21passing. Steffy also threw a pair of interceptions. Kicker Obi Egekeze missed a trio of lengthy field goals.
Despite the lackluster showing, nobody was pointing fingers. Offensively, everyone shouldered the responsibility.
"Once we get into the red zone we need to score touchdowns," Williams said. "That's the offense's goal, to score touchdowns. Offense and special teams are different units. The field goals are our fault. But we shouldn't have been in those situations."
Trailing 14-0, the Blue Hens pulled within a score on a 1-yard touchdown run by Johnathon Stewart with 5:20 remaining. After a Maryland drive stalled, Delaware took possession with less than four minutes to go. Terrell Skinner put the game away with an interception as Maryland ran out the clock. Kevin Barnes also had a pick.
"I told you it was going to be a tough game," Friedgen said. "You didn't believe me, but it was. They're a good football team and I think we got something out of this game. I was concerned about how we would play since we only had two hot days in camp. It made us work and we played a lot of people. It's a hard-fought win. We did a lot of good things and we have some things we've got to get better at. We probably ran the ball better than I thought we would, but we probably didn't throw it as well as we have been throwing it."
Next up for the Terps is a visit to Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Raiders fell to Tory, 31-17, last weekend. Quarterback Joe Craddock threw for 200 yards and a touchdown on 20-of-32 passing. He also had an interception. Running back Phillip Tanner and receiver Malcolm Beyah also had scores.
Maryland took the two teams' last encounter with a 24-10 victory at home in 2006.
Issue 3.36: September 4, 2008