- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 3, 2006

The sun peeked through yesterday after a two-day absence just before kickoff at Byrd Stadium, a symbolic dawning of a new season for the Maryland football team.

By the time it disappeared, the Terrapins were well on their way to a victory over William & Mary.

Lance Ball ran for two touchdowns and Keon Lattimore scored another as Maryland overcame some occasionally sluggish play to defeat the Tribe 27-14 before an announced crowd of 49,763.

While not a display of overwhelming force, it was still a boost for a program coming off consecutive 5-6 seasons and for players who spent the last nine months pondering the lost chances that cost them a trip to a bowl game a year ago.

It was also anything but perfect. The Terps (1-0) committed three first-half turnovers before asserting themselves with impressive possessions just before and after the half.

“We have a long way to go yet,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “I think this is a start. We have to get better next week and we have to get ready to go the next week. I’m not satisfied, but I’m not disappointed, either. We just have to keep working.”

It was an efficient night for quarterback Sam Hollenbach, who was especially impressive with some of his deep throws. The senior completed nine of 15 passes for 153 yards, including connections of more than 40 yards with tight end Joey Haynos and wideout Isaiah Williams to set up short touchdown runs in the first half.

Hollenbach didn’t produce the fireworks fans might have hoped for, but he wasn’t asked to air it out much against the Division I-AA Tribe (0-1). Friedgen kept the play calling fairly vanilla in his first game in his dual role as offensive coordinator, showing plenty of the two tight end sets he is fond of but hiding any trickery with a date at No. 5 West Virginia looming Sept. 14.

“It was kind of an even game for me,” Hollenbach said. “The offensive line and the running backs did all the work.”

Hollenbach yielded to reserve Jordan Steffy for a series in the first half and again once the victory was assured. Steffy threw an interception in a shaky first stint, and his second-half appearance didn’t go much better. He added a fumble to his turnover total in the fourth quarter and didn’t connect with a teammate on any of his five passing attempts.

Steffy’s interception was one of several miscues to frazzle the Terps in the first half. Sophomore Danny Oquendo fumbled on Maryland’s fourth offensive play, halting a drive that already had crossed midfield. Later, a Tribe punt glanced off Isaiah Gardner and was recovered by William & Mary.

It was just those type of plays that plagued the Terps last season, whose propensity for ill-timed turnovers and penalties turned a few games from possible victories into certain losses. Friedgen issued nearly daily reminders during camp about the costliness of such mistakes, but at least in the opener, the admonitions went unheeded.

“As long as you have turnovers, you’re going to give the other team a chance to win,” Friedgen said. “We have to stop turning the ball over, and conversely we’re not getting any turnovers.”

Still, the errors didn’t prevent the Terps from seizing a 17-0 lead. Hollenbach’s 42-yard strike to Haynos on the left side set up Ball, who strolled into the end zone untouched on a 2-yard option toss two plays later. On the Terps’ next possession, it was Lattimore’s turn for a short scoring run.

William & Mary closed within 17-7 in the middle of the second quarter, but Hollenbach engineered a four-play, 75-yard drive just before the half capped by Ball’s 3-yard scoring scamper. The Terps then had little trouble moving the ball in the first possession of the second half before settling for Dan Ennis’ second field goal of the night.

It was a solid night for Maryland’s rushing attack, which was perceived in the preseason to be one of the Terps’ strengths and accounted for 213 yards. Maryland controlled the line of scrimmage without right tackle Jared Gaither, who sat out for disciplinary reasons. Friedgen said the sophomore’s absence was not connected with his two-week suspension during camp and that he would return Saturday against Middle Tennessee.

Lattimore, who caught Friedgen’s eye with a strong camp, had a team-high 89 yards on 13 carries. Ball, the incumbent starter, finished with 86 yards on 15 carries. Both remained fresh well in the second half, a situation that could unfold throughout the season.

“It felt good,” Ball said. “At times, you feel kind of cold and you stretch and warm up. My legs still feel fresh enough that I could go for 100 yards.”

The only quiet part of the Terps’ three-headed backfield was senior Josh Allen, though it was more a function of opportunity than production. Allen, who played for the first time since the 2004 finale after rehabbing a knee injury last season, had a 14-yard rush among his six carries for 25 yards.

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