COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Javon Leake rushed for three touchdowns and scored on a 97-yard kickoff return, Kasim Hill had the best passing game of his career and Maryland rolled past Illinois 63-33 Saturday.
Leake is the first Maryland player to score four TDs in a game since D.J. Adams in the 2010 Military Bowl. Leake, a sophomore, finished with 140 yards rushing, including scores of 64, 27 and 43 yards.
The victory left the Terrapins (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) one win short of becoming bowl eligible, no small feat for a team that was rocked by the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair and is playing under interim coach Matt Canada since August.
Reggie Corbin ran for 155 yards and a touchdown for the Fighting Illini (3-5, 1-4). Illinois had yielded 158 points during a three-game skid, and its streak of forcing a turnover in 21 consecutive games came to an end.
Leake’s kickoff return and 64-yard run, along with two touchdown passes by Hill, provided Maryland with a 28-9 halftime lead. The Terrapins tacked on three touchdowns in the third quarter, including a 27-yard run by Leake and Hill’s third touchdown pass.
Hill was removed from the game late in the third quarter with the score 49-19. He went 11 for 19 for a career-high 265 yards, and his three TD passes tied a career best.
Playing Illinois for the first time, Maryland set a school record for most points in a Big Ten game since joining the conference. The Terps finished with 712 yards in offense.
It was a redemptive performance for a team that mustered only 115 yards one week earlier in a 23-0 loss to Iowa. Canada, the team’s offensive coordinator, is serving as interim coach for DJ Durkin, who is on administrative leave during an investigation of the culture of the program.
The investigation began soon after the death of McNair, who collapsed on the practice field and died of heatstroke in June.
Despite of the uncertainty surrounding the program, Maryland has already exceeded its win total (4) from last year.
Maryland linebacker Tre Watson was disqualified in the second quarter after being called for targeting.
Watson leads the Terps in tackles and is tied for the team lead in interceptions, but this is the second time he’s been booted for targeting.
Watson played three seasons for Illinois before coming to Maryland this year. He was ejected for applying a helmet-to-helmet hit on Rivers after the quarterback threw a pass.
Johnson, Maryland’s leading rusher, missed the second half with a leg injury. He ranks fourth on the team career list with 2,597 yards.
Illinois: The Illini have a bad defense, plain and simple, especially when unable to force turnovers.
Maryland: Well, for one game at least, the Terrapins proved they can pass as well as throw. That should be an asset in upcoming games against Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State.
Illinois hosts Minnesota, which defeated Indiana 38-31 Saturday for its first Big Ten win of the season.
Maryland faces visiting Michigan State (5-3, 3-2), which defeated Purdue 23-13 on Saturday.
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