- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 31, 2008

BOISE, Idaho | Maryland flew a long way to write the final chapter to its unpredictable, topsy-turvy season.

Ultimately, it finished its week at the Humanitarian Bowl in surprising fashion, controlling the ground in a 42-35 defeat of Nevada.

Even without their top tailback and two starting linebackers for part of the game, the Terrapins turned in a credible performance with their own rushing attack while holding the vaunted Wolf Pack running attack to 113 yards.

Tailback Da’Rel Scott, who didn’t play until halfway through the third quarter because of a curfew violation, was named the game’s MVP after rushing for 174 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries for the Terps (8-5). It was the second time in three years and the fourth time in coach Ralph Friedgen’s tenure that Maryland won a bowl game.

“I felt that [our running game] was the story,” Maryland defensive tackle Jeremy Navarre said. “I know their defense was like third in the nation at stopping the run, and we just ran all over them. We just shut it down with our defense.”

Scott was one of seven players - including fellow starters Trey Covington, Moise Fokou and Danny Oquendo - who were declared out for the early stages of the game just before kickoff. Their absences, along with those of Derek Drummond, Jamari McCollough and Antwine Perez, hardly mattered as Maryland controlled much of the first half.

Perhaps most impressive was how feeble the Wolf Pack were in asserting their own rushing attack. Nevada (7-6), which entered averaging 291.4 yards a game on the ground, instead sputtered as the Terps’ defensive line held up quite well.

It was an encouraging development for Maryland, which played under interim defensive coordinator Al Seamonson for the first time. Seamonson, who is expected to be considered for the job in the long term, took over when Chris Cosh departed for Kansas State earlier this month.

Wolf Pack tailback Vai Taua plugged away for 101 yards, while quarterback Colin Kaepernick was held to 15 yards rushing.

Meanwhile, the Terps finished off Nevada with their own revitalized reliance on the run, rolling up 259 yards for the game.

Scott didn’t take his first handoff until deep into the third quarter, but he was plenty fresh when his punishment finally expired. He quickly made up for lost time, and his 49-yard touchdown run with 12:21 left gave Maryland the lead for good.

“I felt as though I had to run with a purpose after I had to sit out the first half,” Scott said.

After Kaepernick overthrew Virgil Green on a fourth-down attempt with 8:48 remaining, the Terps handed it back to Scott and received similar results. He ripped off runs of 11, 23 and 30 yards to set up a mere 2-yard jaunt to make it 42-28.

Scott’s proficient half left him with 1,133 yards, the eighth 1,000-yard season in Maryland history and the first since Chris Downs’ in 2002.

“He assured me if he had an opportunity, he was going to play to the best of his ability, and he kind of did,” Friedgen said.

While Scott and Oquendo sat, opportunities developed for their lesser-known backups. The seldom-used Morgan Green burst through the right side for a 53-yard touchdown run to start the second quarter, and redshirt freshman Ronnie Tyler capped a drive in the final 30 seconds of the first half with a 14-yard touchdown catch to make it 28-14 at the break.

They weren’t the only surprising sources of offense. Adrian Cannon, starting as part of Maryland’s four-receiver set to open things, caught a 59-yard score from Chris Turner on the third play of the game. Later, Torrey Smith returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, Maryland’s first score in that manner since Oct. 7, 2006.

Yet despite the surprise star turns, the Terps didn’t dispatch the Wolf Pack when they could. Instead, Turner committed three turnovers in the third quarter, leading to a pair of Nevada touchdowns.

Still, the junior’s foibles didn’t matter in the larger picture. The Terps’ winding journey - both over the course of the season and for their bowl week - ended with a trophy, a tangible reward for a year that might not have been as special as Maryland hoped but certainly turned out to be memorable.

“Coming out here, we knew we had a chance to make amends for the inconsistent play that we had,” Turner said. “It was mainly a business trip for us. We came out here after Christmas, had a 12 o’clock curfew and really wanted to come out and win the game. Obviously we got the win, and it makes the trip that much better.”

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