Maryland is back in a familiar position: finding a new starting quarterback because of an incumbent’s injury.
An MRI exam Monday revealed Perry Hills’ left knee injury is a torn anterior cruciate ligament, ending the season of the inexperienced-though-rugged quarterback more than a month early.
It is the third time in two seasons the Terrapins have lost a quarterback to a season-ending injury, and it will force the program to turn to sophomore Devin Burns or freshman Caleb Rowe to complete the year and attempt to prod the Terps to the six-win plateau needed to reach a bowl game.
Both played in relief of Hills in Saturday’s 20-18 loss to N.C. State, and it is uncertain who will draw the start Saturday when the Terps (4-3, 2-1 ACC) visit Boston College (1-6, 0-4).
“I am very disappointed for Perry,” coach Randy Edsall said in a statement released by the school. “I was proud of the way he stepped in this season and led our team. Perry is a great competitor and I know how strongly his teammates feel about him. We will do everything we can to support him through the rehab process.”
Edsall is expected to address Hills’ injury further during his weekly news conference Tuesday.
Hills, who had played all but three of Maryland’s offensive snaps before his injury, was hurt just before halftime Saturday. After N.C. State’s David Amerson snagged an interception, Hills planted his left leg as he moved toward Amerson.
Wolfpack linebacker Rickey Dowdy then pushed Hills from behind, and Hills’ knee buckled from the contact. A cart soon came to collect him, and television replays showed Hills sobbing as he was taken off the field. Edsall said Sunday that Hills initially attempted to get a knee brace and return after halftime.
The loss of Hills is the continuation of Maryland’s remarkably lousy luck with quarterbacks. The Terps have not had a wire-to-wire starter since Sam Hollenbach in 2006. He also is the second quarterback Maryland has lost this season. Presumptive starter C.J. Brown suffered a torn right ACL during an August practice.
Last season, opening week starter Danny O’Brien missed the final two games with a broken non-throwing arm.
Hills threw for 1,336 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. The Pittsburgh-area product endured some struggles but also earned the ACC’s Rookie of the Week honor once, threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns in a loss at West Virginia and became the first true freshman quarterback to win a start for the Terps.
Burns came to Maryland as a quarterback before switching to wideout last season. He volunteered to return to quarterback after Brown’s injury, and his elusiveness helped Maryland show a previously unforeseen dimension in their offense.
He ran for 50 yards Saturday, including a touchdown, and his presence opened up the Terps’ struggling rushing attack. In addition to Burns‘ effectiveness, tailback Wes Brown rushed for 121 yards — the most by a Maryland running back since Da’Rel Scott in the 2010 Military Bowl and the most by a Maryland freshman since LaMont Jordan in 1997.
Rowe, like Hills a true freshman, entered in the closing stages Saturday to run the two-minute offense. He completed both of his passes for 50 yards to set up a 33-yard field goal attempt that ultimately clanked off the left upright.