By: Daniel Chavkin
Towards the end of the first quarter, Ty Johnson flew off the left edge with no one in front of him and blocked Howard’s punt, setting up Trey Edmunds for an easy return touchdown. The play was fast and full of energy, something no one expected out of the Terrapins last season.
However, this game offered a glimpse of hope for the future. Never mind beating a team from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Maryland showed explosiveness and direction in their 52-13 win over Howard, an impressive defeat regardless of whom the opponent is.
Under new offensive coordinator Walt Bell, Maryland spread the ball around both through the air and on the ground. Six different players rushed for a touchdown and seven different receivers caught a pass. On the ground, Maryland ran for over 300 yards and six touchdowns.
Senior quarterback Perry Hills finished the game with only five rushing yards, but was pleased with the running back’s production regardless.
“It’s a family mentality,” Hills said. “The O-line did a great job making the blocks and running backs did a great job making the cuts.”
Of the six players to score a rushing touchdown, four are new to the program. Two freshmen led the team in rushing yards, starting with Lorenzo Harrison who ran for 67 yards and a score on nine carries.
“Lorenzo is a unique ball carrier because he can make you miss for sure, [but] he can also run you over,” head coach DJ Durkin said. “He doesn’t have that freshman look.”
After Harrison, the versatile Jake Funk collected 59 rushing yards and a touchdown. Funk helped contribute on both offense and special teams, and Durkin said Funk is willing to help on defense if necessary.
“He does such a great job of finishing runs and doing all the little things in a game,” Durkin said. “He’s a tough guy.”
Trey Edmunds, too, was playing for the first time in a Maryland uniform. The fifth-year senior transfer from Virginia Tech collected a rushing touchdown to go along with his kick return score.
“He’s a very competitive, physical runner,” senior linebacker Shane Cockerille said. “He runs through the holes, doesn’t stop on contact. Just a physical back.”
Edmunds said the spread of production doesn’t matter as long as the unit as a whole is having success.
“We all rally around each other,” Edmunds said. “We help each other when we’re down, and we cheer each other on when we’re having success. It’s definitely competition when we’re in practice, but [during] game time we’re one unit.”
Howard head coach Gary Harrell commended Maryland’s preparation and performance on the day.
“They really kept us off balance,” Harrell said. “They’re physical and play downhill and did a good job stopping the run downhill.”
Howard redshirt senior linebacker Devin Rollins said Maryland’s new up-tempo offense gave Howard issues all day.
“Their tempo just killed us and they had a lot of depth,” Rollins said. “They had a lot of fresh bodies when we were gassed and then the tempo just kept piling on.”
Durkin said the punt block shows how willing Maryland is to use players during multiple phases of the game.
“It’s what gets our best guys on the field, gives us the best chance to win,” he said.
Durkin also said the locker room energy afterwards is what stands out the most from his first game.
“Just the look on their faces, that’s what you do it for,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”