Late TD by Pickett lifts Terps to victory
On a day when Maryland kicked off the season with everything new, they nearly reached a new low. But by rallying in the fourth quarter, the Terrapins avoided their first loss to a FCS school, subduing William & Mary 7-6 at Byrd Stadium on Saturday.
Freshman quarterback Perry Hills overcame three interceptions to guide a 62-yard fourth-quarter drive, which sophomore Justus Pickett capped with a 6-yard touchdown run. Freshman Brad Craddock tacked on the extra point to give Maryland the lead with 9:52 left, and the Terps hung on from there before 31,321.
"I would like to thank the crowd. They were there to the bitter end," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "It wasn't pretty, but we did win."
With the Terps in new uniforms and playing on their new FieldTurf surface, it was a successful debut for Hills (16-for-24 for 145 yards) and new coordinators Mike Locks?ley (offense) and Brian Stewart (defense) but hardly an artistic one.
In addition to the interceptions, there were plenty of other lowlights, including a dropped touchdown pass by tight end Devonte Campbell, a lost fumble by freshman running back Albert Reid, a missed 25-yard field goal by Craddock and three pass interference calls against senior cornerback Dexter McDougle.
"Young guys, you never know how they will play in their first game," Edsall said. "But they will get better."
But there were two major positives: the punting of freshman Nathan Renfro, who averaged 53 yards on four kicks, and the play of the Maryland defense, led by sophomore cornerback Jeremiah Johnson and senior end Joe Vellano.
Coming on corner blitzes, Johnson registered sacks on a pair of fourth-down plays in the final seven minutes. Vellano stopped another deep William & Mary drive with an interception and had 11 tackles, including three for losses. Senior inside linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield led the Terps with 13 tackles and recovered a fumble, forced by Johnson with his second sack.
With the offense sputtering, the injury-riddled Maryland defense came up with all the big plays. William & Mary got inside the Maryland 25 on three of its first four possessions but came away with just two field goals, largely because of the work of Vellano, who was in on a pair of third-down stops to bring on the field goal unit. The Terps held the Tribe to 229 yards.
Maryland should get a stiffer test next week at Temple, a 41-10 winner Friday night over Villanova, a team that plays in the same FCS conference as William & Mary.