By: Eddie Hobbs
After a 45-14 win over Bowling Green last week, the Terps looked poised to host the Temple Owls for the first home game of the season. Yet, on Saturday, Maryland came out flat on all facets, and dropped its first game of the season to Temple 35-14.
Kasim Hill, the redshirt sophomore quarterback, frequently missed reads and did not look comfortable in the pocket all day. His struggles could be attributed to the absence of both starting tackles, Derwin Gray and Damien Prince.
“They [Gray and Prince] were both unable to play today ,” interim head coach Matt Canada said. “Obviously, that’s a tough deal. We’re not making any excuses, we have a lot of good players, a lot of kids that play hard.”
Temple was without its starting quarterback Frank Nutile, who was injured last week against Buffalo and was a gametime decision this afternoon. The Owls decided to hand the ball over to redshirt sophomore Anthony Russo, who made his first start of his collegiate career against Maryland.
Russo showed flashes of good quarterbacking while also demonstrating why he is Nutile’s backup. With 3:23 left in the first half, Russo dropped back and attempted a throw to the near sideline. Maryland’s senior safety Darnell Savage was reading Russo’s eyes the whole way, picking off the pass and returning it 23 yards for the touchdown.
That would be the only fireworks of the first half for the Terps, as Maryland went into the half down 21-7 against an 0-2 Temple team.
Maryland’s offense was frequently run off the field in the first half. The Terps only had two first downs, and converted on just one third down in the whole game.
“We didn’t run our offense, we didn’t run any of the plays,” Canada said. “We didn’t execute and that falls on me. It’s a really bad job by me.”
Maryland rushed for 444 yards against Bowling Green last week and the loaded backfield was looking to build off of that performance. Yet, with Lorenzo Harrison III on the sidelines because of a hamstring injury, Maryland’s rushing attack lacked any explosiveness and gained just 132 yards with plenty coming at the end of the game.
The only bright spot for Maryland’s offense was the play of redshirt freshman Anthony McFarland. The dynamic rusher for Maryland gained a few big chunks throughout the game, and finished the day with 107 yards, his first career 100-yard rushing performance.
The Temple offense controlled possession throughout the second half, using a good mix of running the ball and timely passing plays. The Owls held on to the ball for 11:32 in the third quarter and ran the ball 17 times for 43 yards while completing 5-of-6 passes for 102 yards.
After a Jesse Aniebonam blocked punt and 23-yard touchdown return, Maryland was looking at a 14-point deficit with 8:21 remaining.
Maryland’s defense forced a punt by Temple on the very next drive, and the Terps got the ball back with 5:21 to go. McFarland led Maryland down the field with a 34-yard run down to the Temple 27-yard line.
Just a few plays later, Hill attempted a short dump-off pass to Taivon Jacobs, but Temple’s Shaun Bradley intercepted the pass, the first interception of Hill’s career, and brought it back 78 yards for a backbreaking touchdown to give Temple a 35-14 lead on their way to their first win of the season.