BOISE, Idaho | Da’Rel Scott thought his suspension for missing curfew during Maryland’s bowl trip might last a quarter or so.
The second quarter, however, came and went, and by the time the Terrapins retreated to the locker room, the sophomore had reason to wonder if a bad decision had cost him a chance to play in the postseason.
“After the second quarter, I was getting a little worried. I’m not going to lie,” Scott said. “But they called my number on the phone, and I had to show my team I was trying to be a leader.”
Indeed, Scott did lead - rolling up 174 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries as the Terrapins upended Nevada 42-35 Tuesday in the Humanitarian Bowl.
Scott, the game’s MVP, also clinched the eighth 1,000-yard rushing season in school history and the first since Chris Downs pulled it off in 2002. Scott finished the season with 1,133 yards.
It almost didn’t happen. Scott was one of seven Terps players suspended for violating the team’s curfew in Boise. Coach Ralph Friedgen considered sending the group home - his preference was via bus rather than plane - but ultimately decided to keep them all around for the game.
Still, Friedgen was disappointed with the group, which also included Danny Oquendo, Moise Fokou and Trey Covington. Scott met with Friedgen on Monday night to discuss his status and his hopes of helping Maryland snap a two-game skid.
“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.
It’s just that the chance took a while to materialize. Friedgen wondered at halftime whether offensive coordinator James Franklin would even give Scott a chance while reserves Morgan Green and Davin Meggett were rushing effectively.
Finally, with 7:49 remaining in the third quarter, Scott made his first appearance. His best work, though, was saved for the final 15 minutes.
Scott put Maryland ahead for good with a 49-yard burst with 12:21 remaining, stiff-arming cornerback Isaiah Frey along the way to the end zone. On the Terps’ next possession, he carried on all four plays of a 66-yard drive, finishing it with a 2-yard score to bump Maryland’s edge to 42-28.
Scott ran for at least 10 yards on seven of his attempts while shredding a Nevada defense that yielded only 74.5 yards a game during the regular season.
“He just ran through us like we weren’t there,” Nevada coach Chris Ault said. “They ran the weakside gap, and we knew that was one of their base plays. He did a great job. He’s a heck of a back, no question about it. When you see he’s breaking tackles and going through like we aren’t there, it’s not only a difference-maker but a morale-changer.”
Ault no doubt wished Scott was on a bus back to College Park.
Well, really, probably anywhere but Bronco Stadium. Instead, Scott got to stay - a serious relief after a fretful few days amid Friedgen’s threats.
“Very concerned,” said Scott, who broke the school’s bowl rushing record of 165 yards, set by Lu Gambino in the 1948 Gator Bowl. “He pretty much said he was really thinking about do that. That really concerned me, but he didn’t do that, and I got the chance to come in and help the team out.”