COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Maryland freshman Stefon Diggs has the ability to make a big play every time he touches the ball. Unfortunately, not all those plays benefit the Terrapins.
Diggs made up for a fumbled punt and a dropped pass by taking a short throw 63 yards to set up a fourth-quarter touchdown run by Justus Pickett, and Maryland opened the Atlantic Coast Conference portion of its schedule with a 19-14 win over Wake Forest on Saturday.
The Terrapins (3-2, 1-0) snapped a two-game skid and surpassed their victory total from 2011, when they went 2-10 in coach Randy Edsall’s first season. Maryland also matched its win total in the ACC last season.
Wake Forest (3-3, 1-3) led 14-13 when the Terrapins gained possession at their own 41 in the fourth. After a first-down sack, freshman Perry Hills connected with Diggs on the right flat, and the fleet-footed wide receiver cut down the sideline behind several good blocks before being tackled at the 3. On third down, Pickett carried it in from the 1 with 5:37 left.
Diggs’ play made up for two earlier misadventures, when he fumbled a punt to set up a Wake Forest touchdown and dropped a third-down pass.
“It’s a slippery slope with Stefon,” Edsall said. “He wants to make a big play all the time. It’s not going to happen. Sometimes the ability to do that hurts himself more than he helps himself. Like his punt return. He’s got to understand the most important thing is securing the football.
“It’s great to have a young man like that who’s got that tremendous confidence. He’s a talent. He makes plays. It drives you crazy because he makes those mistakes, but you know he’s going to find a way to make a play. And he did.”
Diggs finished with five catches for 105 yards and also contributed a 17-yard punt return. His 63-yard jaunt, however, was the difference-maker.
“He made an electric play and you have to give credit to him,” Wake Forest linebacker Riley Haynes said. “He made the play and we didn’t.”
Hills went 14 for 25 for 191 yards to help Maryland avenge a 31-10 defeat at Wake Forest last year. The Terrapins won despite committing three turnovers and being flagged for eight penalties.
“We’ve got a lot of things we still have to clean up,” Edsall said. “(But) it’s good to be 1-0 in the ACC. Now let’s see if we can build on it.”
Demon Deacons’ quarterback Tanner Price was harassed most of the game by a Maryland defense that came in ranked eighth nationally in yardage allowed. Price went 13-of-38 passing for 170 yards and two scores.
Terence Davis, subbing for injured star receiver Michael Campanaro, caught a 73-yard pass for Wake Forest on the third play of the game and finished with seven receptions for 130 yards.
The Demon Deacons took a 14-13 lead with 7:06 left in the third quarter, moving 24 yards after Diggs fumbled a punt. On third down from the 7, Price threw a touchdown pass to Tommy Bohanon, the fullback’s third score in two weeks.
But the lead wouldn’t stand up.
“We’re definitely feeling this loss,” Bohanon said. “We’re down right now.”
Maryland led 13-7 at halftime despite fumbling twice, throwing an interception, making only five first downs and being penalized six times for 45 yards. Diggs was the Terrapins’ leading rusher, gaining seven yards on one carry.
Wake Forest had 196 yards total offense at the break, 116 of them on five catches by Davis.
Following the opening kickoff, Davis took advantage of a miscommunication in the Maryland secondary to break free down the left sideline for the 73-yard score, the longest play by the Demon Deacons this season.
Maryland then converted a fourth-and-1 from its own 49 in a drive that produced a 49-yard field goal by Brad Craddock.
Minutes later, Lovell Jackson mishandled a Maryland punt after calling for a fair catch. Terrapin Cole Farrand recovered at the Wake Forest 35 to set up a 52-yard field goal.
In the second quarter, a short punt gave Wake Forest the ball at the Maryland 38. Price fumbled a third-down snap at the 1, and on fourth down, Joshua Harris was stopped for no gain.
“When you’ve got third and a half-a-yard and you fumble the center-quarterback exchange, you know it’s maybe not going to be your night,” coach Jim Grobe said.
Minutes later, Kevin Johnson picked off a Hills pass at the Maryland 40, but Jimmy Newman missed wide left on a 42-yard field goal try. He also missed from 44 late in the half.
The Terrapins took the lead with 2:19 left in the second quarter. Hills directed a 75-yard march that included a 23-yard completion to Diggs and ended with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Dorsey.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)