Maryland outlasts Nevada in Humanitarian Bowl
By STEVE RANSON
BOISE, Idaho ” Maryland didn’t waste any time finding the end zone Tuesday afternoon at the 12th annual Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho.
It didn’t take long for a suspended running back who sat out the first half to find the goal line, either.
Maryland, from the Atlantic Coast Conference, scored twice in the fourth quarter to snap a tie and then held on for a 42-35 victory.
The Terrapins extended Nevada’s losing streak in postseason bowl games to three by stopping the Wolf Pack in the first meeting between the two teams.
This year’s bowl season has not been kind to the Western Athletic Conference, losing four of five including Tuesday’s game. The game was played before 26,781 fans at Boise State University’s Bronco Stadium.
Maryland’s ability to strike quickly and camp often in Wolf Pack territory, and Nevada’s poor field position for most of the first half and part of the second didn’t favor the Pack in its attempt to win its first bowl game since an overtime win at the Hawaii Bowl in 2005.
“I was disappointed in our defense. We gave up the big plays, and that’s tough,” said Nevada coach Chris Ault.
Reminiscent of their play in the first half, the Terps quickly pounced on the Pack for the go-ahead touchdown capped by Da’Rel Scott’s 49-yard run. On Maryland’s next series, the Terps covered 66 yards on four plays, and Scott plunged in from the 2-yard line. Obi Egekeze’s extra point gave Maryland a 14-point lead with 7:44 left in the game.
What made Scott’s performance more meaningful for the Terps is that he only played in the second half. Scott and seven others did not start because of a curfew violation two nights ago.
“Scott was obviously the best back out there,” Ault said.
Scott, Maryland’s most valuable player in the game, rushed for 174 yards on 14 carries. His longest run was for 49 yards.
Scott said he was frustrated to sit out the first half.
“I needed to be a leader and keep the running backs (fired) up,” he said. “I felt (in the second half) I had to give the team a spark.”
Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said he told Scott he had the opportunity to play in the game after being disciplined.
“He played well,” Friedgen said of his sophomore back.
Nevada didn’t roll over. Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kaepernick closed out the scoring with a 15-yard run with 2:19 left in the game. Maryland limited Kaepernick to 15 yards net, but the Wolf Pack sophomore, the team’s most valuable player in the game, completed 27-of-47 passes for 370 yards and three touchdowns.
It took defense, though, for the Wolf Pack to stay close to the Terrapins.
Nevada’s defense finally jump started a lethargic offense that lost its swagger in the second half. Wolf Pack safety Jonathon Amaya intercepted Chris Turner’s pass on the Maryland 45 and returned the ball to the 22-yard line.
Three plays later Kaepernick found Vai Taua alone and deep in the near-side end-zone corner for a 17-yard Touchdown strike. Jaekle’s PAT sliced the Terrapins’ lead to 28-21 with 5:57 left in the third quarter.
The defense also had its letdowns, but Nevada redeemed itself on Maryland’s final possession of the third quarter with 59 seconds left.
Dontay Moch forced a fumble which Nevada recovered, but the Pack, in turn, fumbled the ball back to Maryland on the 45-yard line.
The Terps picked up two first downs, but then Turner threw a lateral, prompting Nevada’s Nate Agaiava to land on the ball on the Wolf Pack 35.
Kaepernick completed a 21-yard pass to Mitchell 47 seconds into the fourth quarter, and Jaekle nailed the PAT to tie the game at 28.
Maryland (8-5) found its rhythm in the first quarter behind its quarterback, Turner,who aired the ball out on a 59-yard pass play to Adrian Cannon as the Terrapins struck first within the first minute of the game. Turner, who completed 1-of-2 passes in the drive for 7 yards, found Cannon splitting the Pack secondary for a perfect strike to his sophomore wide receiver.
The extra point missed the uprights as Maryland led, 6-0.
But Nevada (7-6) showed it could strike just as quickly when the Pack had the ball.
Faced with a second and 15 from its own 29-yard line, Kaepernick pump-faked and then unleashed a long pass down the middle to Marko Mitchell who caught the ball deep in Maryland territory and was yanked down at the 3.
Three plays later, Kaepernick rolled to his right on a play-action play and tossed a short 1-yard pass to Chris Wellington, who was all alone in the end zone. Brett Jaekle’s kick gave Nevada a 7-6 lead at the 8:06 mark.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Terps relied on speed and quickness. Torrey Smith fielded the ball at the 1-yard line, his right foot almost touching the end-zone line. Smith ran toward the middle of the field but then shifted to his right and toward the Maryland sideline. He easily outraced any Nevada pursuers to give Maryland its second lead of the game. Egekeze’s point-after-touchdown gave Maryland a 13-7 lead with 7:53 left in the opening quarter.
Smith’s return set a Humanitarian Bowl record and also made him the ACC’s single-season record holder in kickoff return yardage with 1,089 yards.
Nevada had an opportunity to regain the lead. On the kickoff, the ball began to fall off the tee, causing Egekeze to kick an “unintentional” onside kick. Gardnerville’s Andy McIntosh fielded the ball near the visitor’s 45-yard line and ran it back to the 9. Two plays later, though, Kaepernick threw an interception in the end zone to the Terps’ Kenny Tate for a touchback.
Nevada received a lucky break after Maryland punted on its fourth possession. Travis Baltz’s punt was downed at the Nevada 3-yard line, but a review showed the ball had crossed into the end zone and back out.
Rather than being pinned down deep in its own territory, the Pack took over on the 20. In seven plays, Nevada mloved on Kaepernick’s passing to the Maryland 38. Running back Vai Taua (23-107) couldn’t penetrate the Terps’ defense on rushing downs. Kaepernick, though, loosened up the Terps’ defense when he tucked the ball in and raced 19 yards, the longest gain of the day so far for the Pack.
With the ball on the 17, Taua plowed through the left side of the line for Nevada’s second touchdown, and with Jaekle’s kick, Nevada led, 14-13, with :46 left in the first quarter.
Maryland’s offense struck just as quickly on two plays. Morgan Green had a 47-yard run to put the Terps back on top, 19-14. Egekeze’s PAT gave Maryland a 20-14 lead.
Nevada fell further behind during the final minute of the second half.
Turner fired a 14-yard pass to Ronnie Tyler and then completed a 2-point conversion pass to Davin Meggett for a 28-14 lead.
Maryland’s drive covered 53 yards in five plays, taking only 23 seconds. An out-of-bounds late-hit penalty called on Mo Harvey moved the ball to the 30 didn’t help Nevada’s defense in trying to stop the Terps.
“They ran the weak-side gap,” Ault said of the Terps’ running backs.
But Scott was still on the coach’s mind throughout the postgame press conference.
“We took away their throwing game,” Ault said. “He (Scott) did a good job breaking tackles and going through us.”