Maryland-California: Terps Upset Golden Bears, 35-27

ThomasSenior Writer ISeptember 13, 2008

There was no Gator football this week. However, that didn't matter to me, as my hometown Terps shocked Cal, 35-27.

Let's face it, Cal didn't look ready to play. The Cal-Maryland game was set for noon East Coast time, that's 9 AM California time. So let's just say, it was too early for California.

Kevin Riley, the Cal quarterback, said to ESPN: "We weren't ready to start the game." Riley made up for his team's poor performance by going 33-for-58 for 423 yards and three scores. The 58 passes were a school record.

Maryland scored touchdowns on its first three possessions Saturday en route to a stunning 35-27 upset of No. 23 California. The Golden Bears didn't reach the end zone until the closing minutes, and by then it was far too late.

Coming off a 10-point loss to unheralded Middle Tennessee State, the Terrapins were given little chance against a California juggernaut that totaled 104 points in disposing of Michigan State and Pac-10 foe Washington State.

But, unlike the Golden Bears, Maryland was ready at the outset. The Terrapins put California in an immediate hole, and the deficit proved too much to overcome.

"That was important," Maryland quarterback Chris Turner said. "They were on the road, it was an early game, they were adjusting to the time and all that. To be able to get off to an early lead was pretty good."

Da'Rel Scott ran for 87 yards and two touchdowns before leaving with a shoulder injury, Turner threw for scores and the Terps (2-1) used a relentless defense to harass the Golden Bears (2-1) from the start.

California scored three touchdowns in the final seven minutes, but it was too late.

The Terrapins led 21-3 early in the second quarter, 21-6 at halftime and 28-6 after three quarters. The victory elevated the stature of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which has struggled against non-league competition this season.

"The ACC's been taking a hit all year," Maryland guard Jaimie Thomas said to ESPN. "People believe we're not one of the top conferences. I believe we are. If people don't want to believe that, come play us and see what happens."

Last week, Cal defeated Washington State, 63-3. This was their first trip to the East Coast since 2001.

California's Jahvid Best, who amassed 311 yards rushing in his first two games, was at minus-1 after his first five carries. He also absorbed a very hard hit on a short pass with three minutes left in the second quarter and did not return until after halftime.

Best finished with 25 yards on 10 carries.

Riley's 10-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Morrah with 6:55 left made it 28-13, but the Terrapins recovered the ensuing onside kick and needed only two plays to reach the end zone. Two late TDs by the California narrowed the gap, but Maryland got the onside kick after those scores, too.

The game ended with Turner taking a knee on three straight plays. This week's performance was unlike last week in which he threw three interceptions.

After Cal failed to get a first down on its opening possession, Maryland moved 60 yards in five plays to take a 7-0 lead. Scott accounted for 44 yards rushing on the drive, including a 24-yard touchdown run.

Riley was then intercepted by Kevin Barnes, who ran 17 yards to the Cal 14. Four plays later, Scott scored from the one to make it 14-0.

It was 14-3 before the Terrapins moved 60 yards in a 14-play drive culminated by a 1-yard touchdown pass from Turner to Dan Gronkowski. Turner went 7-for-10 for 55 yards and converted three third downs.

California answered with a field goal by David Seawright. At the end of the half, however, Seawright hit the left upright on a 25-yard try.

Maryland went up 28-6 in the third quarter on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Turner to Darrius Heyward-Bey.