Article by: Brittney Bridges
For all the turmoil that Maryland football has experienced over the past 18 months, the arrival of coach Mike Locksley has been marked by one feeling: hope. The DMV native has encouraged top recruits to stay in state, while also bringing some valuable transfers back to their home state. On Saturday, as the Terps hosted Howard to open the 2019 season, all of the cautious optimism seemed justified.
Maryland did more than surpass expectations — they shattered them. Locksley’s unit put together a dominant 79-0 win over the Bison, setting numerous program records en route.
“This offense has a lot of weapons: receivers, running backs, tight ends,” quarterback Josh Jackson said Tuesday afternoon. “Everybody can contribute.”
Jackson proved just that on Saturday. He became the first Maryland quarterback since CJ Brown to tally three first-half touchdown passes — and the milestones wouldn’t end there.
The first score of the game came from a 26-yard pass by Jackson, caught by wide receiver Dontay Demus just inside the 10 yard line. Demus, not giving up on the play, spun the other way to free himself from a tackle and took it to the endzone. It was Demus’ first career touchdown.
“Those guys [receiving corps] stepped up,” Locksley said. “I thought today they all showed up… We know they all have that ability.”
Wide receiver Brian Cobbs, who saw significant time last season, also made contributions, including a 39-yard pass reception during the first quarter that eventually set up Chigoziem Okonkwo to provide the third touchdown of the day. Darryl Jones also recorded two receptions for 57 yards. Meanwhile, running back Anthony McFarland had a relatively quiet afternoon as he had his own pair of rushing touchdowns.
“Everything we were running was just clicking,” Cobbs said. “We feel confident in our playmakers across the board. Whether it’s first string or third string; guys can make plays anywhere.”
By the start of the second quarter, Maryland had a lead of 35-0, the most points scored for Maryland in the first quarter since October 5th, 2002.
The Maryland defense would completely dominate Howard, as the Bison were unable to get a first down in the first half, with the exception of a Maryland penalty that granted them the down. They would get a first down on their own early in the second half but fumbled the ball shortly after. Ayinde Eley and Sam Okuayinonu led the way in tackles with six while Ohio State transfer Keandre Jones followed with four tackles and 1.5 sacks.
“It all starts at practice. It all starts with the scout look and our players wanting to come out here and make a statement.” Jones said.
Other Terps also made their debut, including sophomore Sean Nelson who also snagged his first career touchdown. DJ Turner, who had a relatively quiet season last year, ran up the score to 42-0 on a punt return— Maryland’s first punt return touchdown since 2016.
Pigrome switched in midway through the second quarter and recorded three reps including a touchdown pass to Dontay Demus stretching the lead to 56-0; a score that broke the school record for most points scored in one half, and the most points scored by a Big Ten team in a half since 2005. Maryland finished the half with 406 total yards, with over 70 percent of the yardage coming via pass.
“It was good to see because hopefully we’ll gain some confidence from it.” Locksley said.
Pigrome started the third quarter and got a touchdown of his own — and in dramatic fashion. He ran 22 yards down the Maryland sideline and slid between defenders, extending the lead to 63-0.
Freshman quarterback Lance LeGendre also saw some time, coming in with 10 minutes left in the game. And he didn’t appear fazed by the spotlight, posting 30 rushing yards in a composed cameo.
It was a near-perfect afternoon for Maryland. New faces made an impact, while old ones proved reliable. Records were broken, with new ones set. The optimism seemed justifiable.
They will look to live up to the same lofty expectations when they host Syracuse next Saturday.