Perry Hills, shown handing off earlier this season, left Maryland’s game against N.C. State near the end of the second quarter. (Associated Press)

Intercepted by David Amerson just before halftime, on a forced read across the middle deep in North Carolina State territory, Maryland quarterback Perry Hills spun to tackle the Wolfpack defender. Instead he got twisted and cracked on a block by Rickey Dowdy, crumpling to the ground and wincing in pain.

Amerson returned the interception into the end zone, but the score was erased because of an illegal block to the back by the Wolfpack. But Hills left the field on a cart, unable to put weight on his left leg, the energy zapped from a Byrd Stadium Homecoming crowd that was only just getting going.

Maryland announced that Hills is out for the game.

N.C. State entered halftime with a 10-3 lead, but things seem bleak with another Maryland quarterback injured. But the Terps got on the board first, stringing together a 10-play, 67-yard drive early in the first quarter, aided by a 47-yard reception from Hills to Marcus Leak, culminating in a 36-yard Brad Craddock field goal that put them up 3-0. 

After three early drives that went nowhere, the Wolfpack quickly found their groove after a meager 23-yard punt from Craddock, replacing Nathan Renfro with the short field. Even when set back by an illegal blocking penalty on first down, N.C. State marched 75 yards down the field, aided by a 34-yard completion from quarterback Mike Glennon to receiver Quintin Payton and capped off by a 25-yard over-the-top pass to fullback Logan Winkles, who bowled over safety Eric Franklin at the goal line.

The Wolfpack had first and goal from the Maryland 4-yard line after three third-down conversions, but the Terps’ ninth-ranked defense came up big. Demetrius Hartsfield broke up an end zone try on first down. A.J. Francis nearly had an interception on second down. The defensive line broke through on third down, and Glennon’s attempt sailed out of bounds, the Wolfpack settling for a field goal that put them up 10-3.

Maryland displayed some West Coast principles on its early drives, with no-huddle formations and quick screens, but any first-quarter progress quickly devolved into a festival of quarterback pressure before halftime. Hills was battered in the pocket, knocked around by a Wolfpack defensive line that had little trouble getting push on Maryland’s patchwork front five. North Carolina State finished the half with five sacks. 

But the real damage came with the clock winding down, after Hills had completed a 14-yard pass to Kevin Dorsey and a 17-yarder to Stefon Diggs. He looked over the middle, and an errant pass wound up in Amerson’s hands. Then Hills, a true freshman, wound up on the back of a cart, headed to the locker room, to be replaced by Devin Burns, a former wide receiver who volunteered to play quarterback — his position in high school — when C.J. Brown went down with a torn ACL before the season.

Hills finished the half, and likely the game, 12 of 20 for 159 yards and one interception. Glennon was 9 of 20 for 120 yards and a touchdown. Diggs led all receivers with six catches for 61 yards. Maryland actually outgained N.C. State 200-156, including 41 rushing yards, much improved from last week’s negative output at Virginia.