Looking at just the first half, it seemed as if Maryland was going to return the favor of delivering an embarrassing loss to the home team. After a sloppy first quarter which saw three fumbles between the two teams and one field goal per team, Maryland scored 23 points in the second (three TDs and a safety) and finished the half with a big 26-3 advantage.
Temple made some adjustments early in the second half, and they paid off; the Owls scored two touchdowns in the third quarter. Maryland managed to get a field goal in the third, but by the middle of the fourth, their lead was down to just two points (29-27). Thankfully, the Terps got back on track, and had an 11-play, four-plus minute drive that forced Temple to burn all of its timeouts and ended in a Maryland touchdown. The score put Maryland up by nine, which turned out to be the final margin after the defense stopped Temple from gaining a first down.
For Maryland, the results were mixed, but there was more good than bad …
* After three interceptions and no TD passes last week against William & Mary, Perry Hills bounced back with a 190 yard performance with two TDs and no INTs;
* After missing his only FG attempt last week, the rookie kicker from Australia, Brad Craddock, hit both FG attempts (although one hit an upright) and made all four extra points;
* Stefon Diggs finished with 135 all-purpose yards;
* The front seven of the defense crushed Temple’s running game, holdling them to 52 yards on 39 attempts – a miniscule 1.3 yards per carry;
* Marcus Leak continued his impressive play, gaining 90 yards on just three receptions (including one touchdown);
* Maryland scored when it needed to at the end, scoring a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to bump the lead back up to 9 points;
* With the Owls looking to cut the lead to six late, A.J. Francis came up with a huge field goal block.
* Most of the second half. Temple made the adjustments they needed and outscored the Terps 24-3 from the start of the 2nd half to the middle of the fourth quarter;
* Occasionally Maryland had to rely on Temple errors to continue drives.
* Four fumbles by the Terps, including two by TB Wes Brown;
* The Terps’ secondary was burned by Temple in the second half for several major pass plays;
* My voice after the game (which is not actually a bad thing).
This was the first Maryland game that I’ve attended on the road. Since the game was not far from Maryland (just up the road in Philadelphia) there was the potential for a lot of Maryland fans to head up to the game, and the Terps fans did not disappoint.
Temple plays at Lincoln Financial Field, the home of the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, and doesn’t come close to filling the place (the upper deck is closed off). While I suspect that with time they may be able to build up a better fanbase, for now their oversized stadium gives other teams (especially close ones) the opportunity for a great road trip.
As a Maryland fan at a road game, it was wonderful to see the number of other Terps fans who had made the trip. There were plenty of fans in red, white, black and gold on the Maryland side of the field, cheering on the team and staying until the end, for a tricky but definite victory.
It’s been a bit of a struggle, but the Terps are 2-0 so far in 2012. For a team with a true freshman QB and a lot of injuries to deal with, it’s better than many expected.