Well, what did you expect? A shootout?
A sluggish, defense-dominated first quarter gave way to some offensive life on both sides in the second, as both Connecticut and Maryland strung together touchdown drives following an opening period that saw just 93 total yards and seven points — on a punt return.
At halftime, in the game dubbed by some outlets as the “Edsall Bowl,” the Huskies lead the Terps, 14-7, behind a three-yard run from backup quarterback Scott McCummings with 12:35 left in the second quarter that capped off a seven-play, 36-yard drive.
With Maryland pinned against its goal line midway through the first quarter, true freshman Perry Hills narrowly avoided a safety on third down, picking up three yards on a scramble. On the ensuing Nathan Renfro punt, Connecticut senior Nick Williams picked up the ball on a couple hops, got crushing downfield blocks and scampered down the far sideline for a 58-yard touchdown for the game’s first score and Williams’s first career punt return touchdown.
On the Huskies’ opening drive, quarterback Chandler Whitmer took off in open space but got chased down and promptly stripped by Darin Drakeford. Five seconds later, Hills over-led Marcus Leak on an short inside slant route and got intercepted.
Hit high and hard, driven backward for just eight yards on 10 plays in the first quarter by former Terps defensive coordinator Don Brown’s unit, Maryland did not record a first down until the second quarter when Hills picked up eight yards and drew a late-hit flag. After underthrowing Kevin Dorsey on a deep ball to the end zone and a Kerry Boykins dropped pass, Hills found Stefon Diggs on an inside slant on fourth and five, and the freshman deftly danced his way for 18 yards into the Huskies red zone.
The ensuing play, Wes Brown, Diggs’s high school teammate at Good Counsel who had two fumbles last week against Temple, trotted in from 19 yards out, untouched after bouncing off a lineman’s back, which cut the lead to 14-7.
Then, on the Terps’ next drive, Hills underthrew Leak on a deep ball and took a 10-yard sack, forcing another three-and-out. After a 23-yard punt return by Diggs following a U-Conn. three-and-out, Brown dashed for 16 yards into Huskies territory with less than four minutes left.
Regularly flushed out of the pocket by disguised blitzes on the edge, Hills finished the first half just 2 of 11 for 24 yards and one interception.
U-Conn. running back Kyle McCombs led all rushers with 19 carries for 65 yards, while Whitmer was an efficient 7 for 10 for 44 yards.