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Scott has a whale of a half for Terps

Thomas Ranson

BOISE, Idaho – The Maryland Terrapins saved their best weapon for last, but it wasn’t done on purpose.

After seeing their two-touchdown halftime lead evaporate in the third quarter, the Terps gave the ball to one of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s best rushers, who was benched until midway through the third quarter for breaking curfew. Da’Rel Scott, a redshirt sophomore and first-team all-ACC pick, troubled one of the nation’s best rush defenses.

He couldn’t have picked better time to do it.

Scott rushed for a game-high 174 yards and two touchdowns, all in the second half, to help Maryland win its first-ever Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl over Nevada Tuesday afternoon at Bronco Stadium. The win was also the first against the Wolf Pack, who have lost three-straight bowls since winning the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl in 2005.

But Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen wanted to send his star running back and six other players back home for breaking curfew over the weekend. Friedgen did an early check and found that seven Terps were running loose in town.

“I was hurt. There are certain things that I expect from my players to do,” the eighth-year coach said. “When they violate that trust, I’m disappointed. Five percent of guys thought they didn’t need to listen to me, that they could get bed checked and sneak out. They need to know that this isn’t my first rodeo because I checked again at 1 o’clock.”

Scott, though, was on mission.

“It was frustrating to sit out the first half,” Scott said. “I tried to run hard and prove a point (in the second half).”

Scott, who averaged 87.2 yards in the regular season, stole the show on two plays in the fourth quarter to end Maryland’s season on a high note at 8-5.

Tied at 28 with 12 minutes, 21 seconds left in the game, the ACC’s second-best rusher busted free for 49 yards on second-and-7 to give Maryland its third and final lead of the afternoon.

Scott, though, wasn’t done.

He added his second touchdown on the Terps’ next possession, driving the preverbal nail into the coffin and sending the Wolf Pack back to the den for the winter. Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick threw an interception, and Maryland followed with a four-play, 66-yard drive that lasted 1:04.

Five acts to score

Why bother taking 12 plays to score a touchdown when you can settle for five?

Tuesday’s seven-point win seemed that way for Maryland as all six touchdowns lasted no longer than five plays. The Terps didn’t start in good field position when three of its four first-half touchdowns went for 50 yards or more.

Maryland’s first touchdown came on a 59-yard pass from Chris Turner to Adrian Cannon on the third play on the game. Turner found his receiver wide open as he broke one tackle and sprinted into the end zone.

The second was on Torrey Smith’s 99-yard kickoff return that gave Maryland the lead again after Nevada drove down the field for its first touchdown with eight minutes left. Smith’s run broke the bowl record of 98 yards when Jerome Thomas played for Idaho in the 1998 game against Southern Miss.

Morgan Green broke free and untouched for the third touchdown – a 53-yard run on the Terps’ second play of the series. The only drive that lasted five plays in the first half ended on a 28-yard pass from Turner to Ronnie Tyler with six seconds left.

Maryland, though, came close to adding its fourth touchdown of more than 50 yards when Scott rushed for a 49-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter that snapped a 28-28 tie. The final run, by Scott, took only five plays as well.

Terps rattle Kaepernick, shut down run

After watching Kaepernick scorch the Maryland secondary, the Terps found a solution in the second quarter.

Maryland’s defensive line pressured the Union as the Terps sacked the sophomore quarterback three times for 18 yards and forced an interception in the end zone, which came late in the first quarter. Kaepernick managed only 15 yards on the ground on nine carries but passed for 370 yards on 24 of 27 completions. He also threw a second pick, which resulted in a Maryland fourth-quarter touchdown.

But the Terps wanted more than to shut down Nevada’s hot-running quarterback. Maryland succeeded in stopping the nation’s second-best rushing offense as Vai Taua recorded 101 yards to give Nevada 116 total, about 200 yards less than its regular season average.

Fair well ACC

The ACC couldn’t have picked a better way to say goodbye to the H-Bowl.

Maryland, the conference’s eighth seed, became the seventh ACC team to make the trip to Boise after Clemson played in the first game in 2001 (Iowa State played in 2002). During the eight-year span, the ACC has gone 4-3 and brought several East Coast powerhouses like Boston College, Georgia Tech, Virginia and Miami. Georgia Tech is the only team to play in Boise twice.

For next year’s bowl, though, the Mountain West Conference will send its fourth-best team as the WAC begins a new contract in 2010. The only WAC teams to win the conference-affiliated bowl against the ACC were Fresno State (2007, 2004) and Boise State (2002).