- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 2, 2005

Lance Ball took advantage of his turn to head Maryland’s running back committee.

The redshirt sophomore, who watched as fellow tailbacks Mario Merrills and Keon Lattimore took star turns this season, bounded through several big holes for a career-high 163 yards and two touchdowns as Maryland upended No.19 Virginia 45-33 yesterday at Byrd Stadium.

Ball scored both of his touchdowns in the fourth quarter to help the Terrapins (3-2, 2-1 ACC) secure their third straight victory against the Cavaliers (3-1, 1-1) at Byrd. He barreled into the end zone on a 14-yard run with 14:55 left to put Maryland up 31-26, then scampered 35 yards untouched with 8:44 remaining to bump the lead to 38-26.

“I thought he was the hot back,” Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I thought he made some great cuts and a couple of key runs for touchdowns.”

Ball did much of his damage on a basic option play. Quarterback Sam Hollenbach could either hand the ball off to Ball, or run to either side with the possibility of pitching to a wide receiver.

The Terps have used the play all season, but usually with two running backs. But Maryland tweaked the formation yesterday, leaving only Ball in the backfield with Hollenbach.

“I guess it’s hard for defenses because you don’t know which one to stop, because if you bite on me, they’ll just take it out on the option and if you bite on the option, we’ll just hand it off,” Ball said. “It’s a hard play to stop.”

Ball’s performance comes a week after fellow sophomore Keon Lattimore ran for 76 yards and a touchdown against Wake Forest. Lattimore was solid yesterday, scoring two touchdowns and gaining 46 yards on 16 carries against the Cavaliers. Senior Mario Merrills, who opened the season with a 149-yard effort against Navy, did not have a carry.

A strong effort from the offensive line helped the Terps, who had a season-high 250 yards rushing. Criticized after rough games in losses to Clemson and West Virginia last month, the line created plenty of chances for Ball to make large gains.

“The holes were pretty big,” Ball said. “Every time I congratulated them and said ‘Keep it up. We can do this.’ They knew it, and we had great confidence out there.”

Still, Ball did plenty of work himself. The 5-foot-9, 225-pound back, who had 51 yards rushing last week, shook off plenty of would-be tacklers on his many runs up the middle as he turned in the Terps’ best rushing performance since Bruce Perry had 237 yards against Wake Forest in 2003.

“A couple of times, I thought he would have been down and he ended up coming out of some things,” Hollenbach said. “He’s the kind of player that you’re going to be able to expect that thing from.”

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