Running back Wes Brown had just strung together a first down with consecutive rushes at Lincoln Financial Field Saturday. On 1st and 10, the ball spotted in Temple territory, faced with a four-man rush, Hills sold the play action to Brown.
The Owls cornerbacks bit, then backpedaled on their heels. Both safeties honed in on Kerry Boykins, running a 10-yard post across the middle. Five yards from the line of scrimmage, Leak swam under his defender, and streaked downfield.
Three-step drop after the play fake. Leak was wide open in the end zone. Touchdown, 32 yards.
“I knew they were going to play a lot of man backside, and I knew [Kevin] Dorsey and Kerry, two of our better receivers, they’d be keying on them considering they had better season’s last year,” Leak said. “So I knew one of the young guys would have to step up.
“Perry threw it up and I had to make a play.”
After Leak led Maryland in its season-opening win over William & Mary with three catches and 37 yards, Coach Randy Edsall praised the sophomore’s confidence and maturity. A gifted athlete who has stepped up his hard work in practice, Edsall said, Leak earned the offensive game ball, not for his receptions, but for chasing down Brian Thompson at the Terps’ 9-yard line following an interception.
Now through two games, Leak is the team’s leading receiver with six receptions and 127 yards, including 90 yards on three catches Saturday against Temple.
He had 85 yards on 12 receptions his entire freshman season, 61 of which came on Oct. 22, 2011 against Florida State, when Leak started in place of an injured Dorsey, becoming the first true freshman wideout to start for Maryland since Danny Oquendo in 2005.
Indeed, Dorsey (45 catches, 573 yards, 3 TDs) and Boykins (37 catches, 430 yards) had the better statistical seasons in 2011, but Leak is turning heads as a member of a very talented receiving corps that has opposing coaches raving. about their playmaking abilities.
The marquee name among that group will likely continue to be Stefon Diggs, the Good Counsel product and two-time All-Met who had 135 all-purpose yards versus the Owls despite receiving just nine touches.
After Diggs muffed a punt at the Terps’ 12-yard line that, had it not been for an A.J. Francis blocked field goal, could have been more costly, the true freshman stepped up.
On 3rd and 11, Maryland lined up in a single-back, four-wide shotgun set. Leak flashed for a screen pattern. Boykins ran an inside post and was actually wide-open over the middle. But with Temple’s outside linebacker and corner biting on the screen, Hills opted to go deep into double coverage.
The pass floating over Diggs’s right shoulder as he sped towards the near sideline, the true freshman hauled in the game-securing reception. After the tackle carried him out of bounds, Diggs sprung up and bounded down the Terps sideline, clapping his hands along the way.
“I play with a lot of emotions,” said Diggs, second on the team with six catches and 89 yards. “I had to make up for it somewhere. My next opportunity, I basically did my job, and my job is to catch the ball. That’s what I did. And good things happened.”