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Saturday, November 15, 2008
Maryland's Scott leads turnaround rushing performance

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Positive yardage sounds like a modest goal, but one week after rushing for minus 12 yards in a loss at Virginia Tech, Maryland had to start somewhere.

It started with running back Da'Rel Scott.

 
 AP Photo/Nick Wass
 Da'Rel Scott ran for 129 yards and a touchdown and Maryland beat No. 16 North Carolina 17-15 Saturday for its school-record sixth consecutive win over a ranked opponent.

It only took one carry -- his first of the game -- for Scott to surpass the entire team's total yardage last week against Virginia Tech. His 14-yard run on the second play of the game set the tone for Maryland, which used its running game to control the clock for four quarters and tire out the North Carolina defense in a 17-15 win. Scott, who was complemented by true freshman Davin Meggett, wasn't 100 percent healthy because of a nagging shoulder injury, but he didn't need to be.

Scott didn't want to be embarrassed again.

"It was frustrating, because negative 12 yards, I was not satisfied with that as being a running back," he said. "As a corps we could've done a lot better to help the team."

This week, the running game made all the difference. Scott, the ACC's second-leading rusher, ran for a game-high 129 yards and one touchdown on 29 carries. Meggett averaged 6.6 yards per carry and had 86 yards on 13 carries. Maryland quarterback Chris Turner said the offensive line was the difference.

"From what I can tell up front they were unbelievable," Turner said. "I can't explain how much easier my job is when you can just hand the ball off and get five, 10, 15 yards a pop. The running game really was the story of the day. It set up a lot of things."

Scott hasn't quite been himself since he injured his left shoulder against California. He has worn a non-contact jersey at practice ever since. Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said the team trainer got new shoulder pads for Scott, and an extra protective pad to help alleviate some of the blow when he gets hit, and it has made a difference.

"My worry is I see him running more straight up because I don't think he wants to lower his shoulder because he's worried about hurting it," Friedgen said. "He's going to take some hits that way and I'm concerned about that, but I think I know why he's doing it."

However he did it, Scott got it done. Maryland rushed for 195 yards and held North Carolina to 75. It was the exact opposite performance from the one in Blacksburg.

At one point in the game starting left guard Jamie Thomas came over to the sideline and got on the headset and told offensive coordinator James Franklin, 'Let's run the ball, let's run at them.'" It was a confidence that was lacking last week, but this time, there was also the execution to match it.

"That's all our line," Scott said. "When they execute, we do good. They make us look good."

And when Scott looks good, Maryland tends to win.

"I'm so proud of him," Franklin said. "He's just come so far as a player, as a person, as a leader on our team. That's very important for us and that's been an impact and a big difference in the games we've won."