Maryland Avoids Late Comeback to Upset California, 35-27

Bleacher Report Senior Writer ISeptember 13, 2008

California has been incredible thus far offensively. They have averaged 52 points a game and have almost 1,000 net yards already. They beat down Washington State last week, 66-3, are 23rd in the nation and have a 2-0 record.

Maryland has stalled offensively and is pretty thin defensively. So far, Da'Rel Scott has been their only bright spot. They have averaged 14 points a game and lost to Middle Tennessee State last week.

Not good, considering they are coming back home to face a team with two amazing running backs in Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen.

Maryland came prepared, though.

California started off with the ball and looked explosive. Running back Jahvid Best (fifth in the nation in rushing) ran off left tackle for over 30 yards.

However, the Golden Bears got penalized and the run was nullified. The next play, quarterback Kevin Riley created two firsts. He got sacked for the first time and Maryland got a sack for the first time.

It was the first of many hits Riley took.

Maryland didn't waste time on the ensuing possession. Chris Turner got a nice completion for nine yards to Rob Gronkowski, Da'Rel Scott had runs of six and 14 yards. Lastly, Da'Rel Scott punched it in for 24 yards and a Maryland touchdown.

Everyone in the stadium expected Cal to respond and score a touchdown. They were wrong.

After Jahvid Best got a loss of two, Kevin Riley threw his first interception in three games. It was right to safety Terrell Skinner, who returned it 17 yards to the California 14-yard line.

Now everyone expected Maryland to score. They were right. Darrius Heyward Bey picked up a first down and Da'Rel Scott ended up punching it in from one yard out for his second touchdown in six minutes.

California responded the next drive, driving all the way to the Maryland 12-yard line and booting a field goal.

Maryland would score again on a one-yard touchdown pass to Rob Gronkowski. On the play, Maryland killed five minutes of play clock. On the drive, quarterback Chris Turner was 8-for-10 with 55 yards and the touchdown.

California again choked in the red zone and was forced to kick the field goal, making it just 21-6. It looked as if Maryland would trade sevens for threes in the game.

At the end of the half, California had the ball on the Maryland 8. California again choked under pressure, getting inside the Maryland 10 and then throwing two incompletions. The field goal from only 25 yards was missed! It was 21-6 Terps at the half.

My friend, there would be much more scoring.

Maryland got the ball first in the second half, but had a very unsuccessful drive. After Da'Rel Scott had two runs of no gain, he caught a pass-and fumbled! Cal picked it up, but also had a very unsuccessful drive. Jahvid Best and Kevin Riley had runs of two and three yards. Riley then threw an incomplete pass and was dropped for a loss on a QB sneak to force a turnover on downs.

Maryland would take advantage of perhaps a foolish decision to go for it with plenty of time to come back in the game. Maryland took 4:23 off the clock and capped an incredible drive with a 28 yard touchdown strike to star receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Headed into the fourth, it was 28-6 Maryland, the upset of the day. And the Terps were beating them on both sides of the ball.

Cal would not go down without a fight. On a 17-play drive, Kevin Riley tossed his first touchdown, a 10-yard strike to his tight end, making it a bit more reachable, at 28-13.

Cal then made a foolish decision. They decided to do an onside kick: with seven minutes left in the ballgame. Davin Meggett made them pay. He had a run of 38 and a run of one yard. The run of one yard was a touchdown, making it 35-13 Terps. That TD would loom large.

Riley threw another touchdown pass the following drive, making it 35-20. Cal would be forced to do another onside kick, which was also recovered by Maryland. The Terps would march to the Golden Bears 10. It was fourth-and-four.

So, Obi Egekeze would be forced to boot a field goal. If you're a Terps fan, at this moment, you're mad. Egekeze has been one of the worst kickers for Maryland, perhaps even worse than Dan Ennis. He kicked a 27-yard field goal. Yes, he kicked it. However, he missed it by about 904 feet.

Cal responded quickly with another TD, making it 35-27. Now, it was a one-possesion game. Cal did another onside kick.

Here is where Danny Oquendo made the play of the game. This onside kick was a pretty good one, not a bouncer right at someone. It was a floater. Oquendo batted it out of bounds, giving Maryland the ball. QB Chris Turner kneeled it twice, and the Terrapins won, 35-27.


Top performers

QB Chris Turner (MD): 15-19, 156 yards, 2 TD

RB Da'Rel Scott (MD): 19 rush, 87 yards, 2 TD

RB Davin Meggett (MD): 13 rush, 82 yds, 1 TD

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (MD): 2 rec, 59 yards, 1 TD

QB Kevin Riley (CAL): 33-58, 423 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT

WR LaReylle Cunningham (CAL): 7 rec, 138 yards