COLLEGE PARK — Caleb Rowe threw for 297 yards and four touchdowns in his first start since 2013, and Maryland notched a flawed 35-17 victory over USF on Saturday.
Rowe was named the starting quarterback in the wake of a 48-27 loss to Bowling Green last week. Despite throwing three interceptions, the junior completed 21 of 33 passes and provided enough big plays to help the Terrapins (2-1) finish with 411 yards of offense.
Rowe threw touchdown passes of 12 yards and 22 yards to Avery Edwards; connected with Taivon Jacobs for a 70-yard score and hit Kenneth Goins for a one-yard touchdown.
Maryland fumbled three times and totaled 12 penalties for 120 yards, but USF (1-2) also had its share of miscues, including two turnovers, a dropped potential touchdown pass, a holding call that wiped out a touchdown run, and a personal foul penalty that erased a fourth-quarter first down when the score was 28-17.
USF quarterback Quinton Flowers went 10-for-19 for 60 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception. He was replaced for a series in the fourth quarter by Steve Bench, who was 0-for-3 with an interception.
The game turned late in the first half after USF used a 12-play drive to get a field goal and close to 14-10.
Starting at his own 34-yard line with 52 seconds left, Rowe completed passed of 10 and 49 yards to Levern Jacobs. On first-and-goal at the USF two-yard line, Rowe botched a pitch to Brandon Ross, who picked up the ball and took it into the end zone with 10 seconds remaining.
Maryland opened the second half with 45-yard kickoff return by Ty Johnson. Five plays later, Edwards made an excellent over-the-shoulder catch of a Rowe pass in the end zone for a 28-10 lead.
That was enough to assure the Terrapins a much-needed victory in the wake of last week’s debacle at home against Bowling Green. Rowe finished that game by throwing two interceptions in relief of an ineffective Perry Hills.
Starting from the outset in this one, Rowe picked up where he left off. Maryland’s opening drive ended when Devin Abraham returned an interception 42 yards, setting up a four-yard touchdown pass from Flowers to Rodney Adams.
Rowe bounced back to direct a 59-yard drive, capped by a touchdown pass to Goins. Then, on the last play of the quarter, Rowe connected with Jacobs deep on the right sideline for a 70-yard score.
USF botched a chance to pull even when Adams dropped a long pass after slipping behind the secondary. It was the first of many miscues by the Bulls, who were coming off a 34-14 defeat at Florida State.
Last year, USF led Maryland in the fourth quarter before falling, 24-17. In this one, the Terrapins took control much earlier and breezed through the final 15 minutes.
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