COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Drenched in a mixture of sweat and rain, Randy Edsall spoke excitedly about winning his first game as Maryland’s head coach.
Anyone who knows Edsall wouldn’t be surprised to know that he took none of the credit for the Terrapins’ 32-24 victory over short-handed Miami on Monday night.
“It’s not about what I did. It’s what the kids did,” Edsall said. “All I tried to do is come in and get them to believe that they could push themselves further than maybe they thought. They bought into the team concept.”
There were plenty of heroes for the Terrapins in this Atlantic Coast Conference duel. Nick Ferrara kicked a 32-yard field goal to put Maryland ahead 26-24 with 1:39 left, Danny O’Brien threw for 348 yards and a touchdown, and defensive back Cameron Chism played a part in two touchdowns.
Edsall, formerly of Connecticut, was hired in January to open a new era of football at Maryland.
The Terrapins emerged from the locker room with new white uniforms patterned after the state flag. They wore wild helmets spashed with red and white on the left side and black and yellow on the right, and the pattern continued to the shoulders.
As decreed by Edsall, there were no names on the back.
And, as he preached, Maryland used a team effort to win.
“It was an unbelievable experience because we were under so much pressure with the new coaching staff and with Friedgen gone,” Ferrara said. “It was amazing to see how we could come together as a unit and win.”
Miami was playing its initial game under Al Golden without eight suspended players, including quarterback Jacory Harris, linebacker Sean Spence and defensive linemen Marcus Forston and Adewale Ojomo.
“We had enough talent to win tonight. We just didn’t do it,” Golden said. “I thought we were ready to go. We made too many mistakes. You make that many mistakes, you can’t win.”
Stephen Morris capably filled in for Harris, going 19 for 28 for 195 yards and running for a touchdown. But on a fourth-and-4 in the final minute, the sophomore threw an interception that Chism took 54 yards to put the game out of reach with 39 seconds remaining.
The Hurricanes struggled defensively, too.
Maryland amassed 311 yards and 19 first downs in the first half alone and finished with 499 yards, including 92 yards on 21 carries by Davin Meggett.
“We had enough (players) on this trip to win this game,” Golden said. “But you can’t give up that many yards, no matter who is in the game.”
The seesaw contest came down to the closing minutes. Soon after O’Brien completed a 52-yard pass to Kevin Dorsey down the right sideline, Ferrera entered only one series after missing from 23 yards out. This one, however, was right down the middle. Chism then provided the clincher.
A year ago, O’Brien went 9 for 28 for 134 yards in a 26-20 loss to the Hurricanes. In this one, he was 31 for 44 — including 19 for 26 for 228 yards after only four series.
But Maryland couldn’t put the finish on several impressive drives. The Terrapins got to the Miami 11 or closer on six occasions, yet they scored only one touchdown and twice came away with nothing.
The Hurricanes took a 21-20 lead early in the third quarter on a 5-yard run by Morris. Maryland regained the lead when Ferrara kicked his third field goal to end a 14-play drive.
The pattern ended when Miami received three penalties, including two straight for delay of game, and had to punt.
O’Brien began moving the Terps in a march that bridged the third and fourth quarters. In the middle of the drive, a rain that began at halftime picked up in intensity.
Maryland managed to get a first-and-goal at the Miami 5, but could get no closer before Ferrara’s field goal try sailed off to the right.
Morris then directed a 67-yard march that ended with a 30-yard field goal by Jake Wieclaw for a 24-23 lead with 4:01 remaining.
Miami converted a fourth-and-1 on the drive and benefited from a questionable defensive holding call on Chism.
That, however, would be the Hurricanes’ final surge. The Terrapins led 20-14 at halftime. After blowing a 10-0 advantage, Maryland moved back in front when Chism caused Mike James to fumble and defensive lineman Joe Vellano lumbered 30 yards for a score.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)