- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 31, 2008

BOISE, Idaho | Far from home and faced with the loss of seven players after curfew violations, the Maryland football team realized there was a businesslike element to its trip to the Humanitarian Bowl trip.

And like so many other programs, it takes care of its work best when controlling the running game on both sides of the ball.

Sure enough, the Terrapins ground down Nevada on both sides of the ball as they secured a 42-35 victory in the Humanitarian Bowl before 26,781 at Bronco Stadium.

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

Tailback Da’Rel Scott didn’t play until the second half because of a curfew violation but still rushed for 174 yards and two touchdowns to earn MVP honors.

The victory was a final flourish for a team in dire need of something memorable from a season turned sour. The Terps (8-5) snapped a two-game losing streak while winning their fourth bowl game in the last seven seasons.

“Coming out here, we knew we had a chance to make amends for the inconsistent play that we had,” quarterback Chris 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.”

Not everyone apparently received the memo about the curfew part. Scott and six others — Trey Covington, Derek Drummond, Moise Fokou, Jamari McCollough, Danny Oquendo and Antwine Perez — were suspended for missing curfew at least once in a multiday stretch of Maryland’s bowl trip.

All but Covington played against the Wolf Pack, though coach Ralph Friedgen considered sending all of them home early. Instead, after a 2 1/2-hour meeting with the players and athletic director Debbie Yow, he allowed them to remain.

“I felt like St. Peter,” Friedgen said. “There were some mortal sins, and there were some venial sins. I had to determine what degree that was. But they were all sins. In Da’Rel’s case, it was the wrong decision. He was trying to help someone, and he got put in a bad situation.”

Eventually, Scott place the Wolf Pack in worse straits, rumbling for both of his touchdowns in the fourth quarter as the Terps pulled away.

It was part of a rushing onslaught for Maryland, which rolled up 258 yards against a team that yielded only 74.5 yards a game in the regular season.

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

The defense was arguably even more impressive — and in interim coordinator Al Seamonson’s chance to make a case for the job on a full-time basis, no less.

The Wolf Pack (7-6) finished the regular season averaging 291.4 yards, but the combination of Colin Kaepernick’s sprained ankle and Maryland’s willingness to yield the pass led to a different approach. Nevada rushed for only 114 yards, going over the 100-yard plateau on its last offensive play.

Tailback Vai Taua managed 101 yards but was mostly stifled to short gains rather than large chunks of yardage. Kaepernick, who threw for 370 yards and three touchdowns, ran for only 15 yards.

“To go against the No. 2 rush offense and barely let them get over 100, and for our offense to go and run all over the No. 5 rush defense in the country, you couldn’t ask for a better scenario,” senior defensive tackle Dean Muhtadi said. “That’s what we prided ourselves our whole careers here, and we went out and got it done.”

Others did as well. Perhaps a hint of what could soon come, the unexpected combination of Adrian Cannon, Torrey Smith, Morgan Green and Ronnie Tyler scored touchdowns in the first half as Maryland dealt with its suspensions.

Indeed, the result was the fusion of both the past and the future for the Terps, who lose 31 seniors off their roster. But on a blue field in Boise, Maryland managed to simultaneously end 2008 and begin 2009 in a fashion the program could savor.

“This win carries you through the whole winter,” Friedgen said. “I think it’s something to start the new year off right.”

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