By: Austin Kleber
Maryland kept its postseason hopes alive as quarterback Perry Hills returned Saturday night and the Maryland offense returned with him as the Terps downed the Spartans, 28-17.
The Terrapins seemed to be reeling after two consecutive losses, but after the win tonight, the postgame atmosphere was positive and upbeat.
“It feels so good to be able to go from two hard weeks to this,” Hills said. “Just to help the team out, everyone was happy, everyone was truly having fun and that’s what it should be. You shouldn’t look at this game as life or death, it’s a game. Everyone just had fun today.”
In Hills’ first game back since injuring his shoulder against Penn State, he threw for 200 yards and two touchdowns on 21 of 27 passing.
“Our leader, Perry [Hills], was back, and that sparked [the team] a little bit,” head coach DJ Durkin said. “After his last touchdown, I told him he’s a tough son-of-a-gun and told him I love him. There’s a lot of guys that wouldn’t have even played [given his injury], and not only did he play, but he played really well. That’s something that tells you what he’s all about.”
The Terps running game was revived, as well. After averaging 150 rushing yards the past two games, stellar performances from Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison helped the Terps gain 247 yards on the ground.
“Congratulate Maryland, I thought their runnings backs did an outstanding job,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. “It’s tough to win a football game when two guys go for over 100 yards on you.”
Johnson rushed for 115 yards, while Harrison racked up 105 yards on a career-high 17 carries.
Despite the great performances from the running backs and himself, Hills gives all the credit to offensive line, which has been inconsistent recently.
“The offensive line played one of their best games of the year. They just did an outstanding job today,” Hills said. “They pretty much deserve all of the credit. They gave the running backs all the lanes to run in, they gave me time to pass. They pretty much won the game for us.”
In contrast to the offense, the defense faced some of the same problems it has faced all season defending against mobile quarterbacks and the run game.
Spartans quarterback Brian Lewerke completed 11 of 24 passes for 156 yards, while rushing for 79 yards on 10 attempts.
Michigan State ran for 270 yards on 44 attempts and running back LJ Scott rushed for a game-high 128 yards.
However, the Maryland defense came back from halftime and allowed only three points and 107 rushing yards.
“The difference was we practiced real hard and prepared,” senior defensive back Alvin Hill said about the increased intensity in the second half. “So coming in, if they didn’t have that second gear, we were going to have that. So I thought our efforts were great in the second half.”
The game was close until Maryland ran away with it in the fourth quarter, outscoring Michigan State 14-0.
“Everyone was pretty dialed in today,” Hills said. “Coach harped on us to go out there and have fun and not worry about it too much and that’s what we did today.”