ACC: Chandler Whitmer

UConn holds on to beat Maryland

September, 15, 2012
A defensive struggle through the first three quarters turned into a down-to-the wire finish between UConn and Maryland in the "Edsall Bowl" on Saturday afternoon.

In the end, the Huskies defense proved to be too much for the young Maryland offense, and they held on to beat former coach Randy Edsall 24-21 in College Park. UConn linebackers Sio Moore and Yawin Smallwood wreaked havoc all day long, but Maryland quarterback Perry Hills made some big fourth-quarter plays to help give his team a shot at the win.

After getting the ball back with 3:29 left, Hills made a few nice passes, including a third-down conversion to Stefon Diggs to keep the drive alive. But a third-and-13 at the UConn 35 resulted in a loss of 4 yards, and then Hills threw incomplete in the end zone to end the game.

Hills continued to mature, but he also had his share of mistakes. Maryland had two turnovers -- all to Hills (one interception, one fumble). He finished 10-of -24 for 109 yards, after going 2-of-11 for 24 yards in the first half. What really kept Maryland in the game were some big plays from Diggs, who had 223 all-purpose yards as a receiver, kickoff returner and punt returner. His 29-yard touchdown catch was pretty terrific, considering it was tipped by a teammate and into his hands.

For the third straight game, the UConn offense was completely ineffective. The Huskies got a huge lift from their special teams, as Nick Williams returned a punt 58 yards to start the scoring. But it almost seemed as if the Huskies had no confidence in Chandler Whitmer or their pass game. Whitmer went 10-of-16 with no touchdowns and no interceptions. With a chance to ice the game late, he threw a terrible pass incomplete that gave the Terps their final shot at the win.

UConn finished with 223 total yards -- and won. It can thank its defense. Despite some ragged play in the fourth quarter, that unit stepped up when it needed to, and came up with the big plays on the final Maryland drive.
Well, neither game was a beauty to watch, but both Maryland and NC State survived their Big East opponents to pull out victories Saturday afternoon. Here is a quick look at both.

Maryland 36, Temple 27: For those Terps fans who had visions of another collapse (ahem NC State), give credit to true freshmen Perry Hills for leading this team on a defining drive. Maryland was in huge danger of blowing a 26-3 halftime lead after Temple clawed its way back to within 29-27. But Hills led an 11-play, 75 yard drive -- with a huge 38-yard throw to Stefon Diggs on third down. Justus Pickett scored on a 7-yard touchdown run to seal the victory.

For an offense that was absolutely dreadful in a loss to William & Mary last week, there were major signs of encouragement. Maryland had 19 first downs and 334 total yards. Maryland only had 13 first downs last week against William & Mary. The Terps had 12 in the first half against Temple.

And there was moxie in that final drive. No folding up the tents with so many youngsters on the field. But there were also signs of discouragement -- running back Wes Brown had two fumbles -- one led to the touchdown that pulled Temple within two points late; Diggs muffed a punt return, and Hills also had a fumble early on. Somehow, Maryland is 2-0 after turning the ball over eight times in two games, and delivered one of the biggest early surprises of the day.

For Temple, the Owls just made too many mistakes to overcome. There were four personal fouls, and seven penalties for 72 yards; a safety on a bad snap; three turnovers, nine first downs and only 230 total yards. Running back Matt Brown (ankle) was banged up; and in and out of the game. There were some flashes in the passing game with Chris Coyer (playing with a 101 degree fever) but this team is not built to pass when it falls behind by 23 points. So much for looking like the best team in the state of Pennsylvania

NC State 10, UConn 7: The offense was missing for both teams in this game, as neither looked ready for prime-time. But you could say the Wolfpack made one more big play than the Huskies, and that was the difference in the game. Mike Glennon was better than last week, but still not great. Still, his beautiful 46-yard touchdown pass to a super-stretched out Bryan Underwood was the longest gain for either team.

Neither offensive line has much to brag about. UConn has had issues now for two straight games with its run game. Going into this one, coach Paul Pasqualoni said he wanted to see a huge improvement out of this group, but he didn't get it. Neither team was able to run the ball. NC State had 54 yards on the ground; UConn had 35 -- and 15 of those came on one late run. The NC State offensive line, which is supposed to be among the best in the ACC, had problems containing what is shaping up to be one of the best defenses in the Big East.

UConn had six sacks and a really terrific defensive performance, but unless its offense can score, UConn is going to be in for a rough year.

At least NC State cornerback David Amerson had a bounce-back game. He got his first interception of the year, and then preserved the win when he broke up a fourth-down pass attempt by Chandler Whitmer with a little over a minute to go. Whitmer was just not very good for UConn, throwing three interceptions and never putting his team in position to win.

The Pack’s 10 points were the least in a victory since beating South Carolina 10-0 in the second game of the 1999 season.