Maryland beat East Carolina 51-20 in the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman on Wednesday. Here is a quick instant analysis:
How the game was won: The best part about East Carolina this season has been its offense. The Pirates came into the game averaging 445 yards and 38 points a game, but were completely stymied against Maryland. The Terrapins blitzed and put major pressure on quarterback Dominique Davis, keeping him completely off balance. There were several instances of miscommunication with his receivers, and Davis threw two ugly interceptions. East Carolina had four total turnovers and racked up 15 penalties for 123 yards -- enough to thwart any team's chances at a victory. All-purpose player Dwayne Harris was also a non-factor. The offense was held 100 yards below its average and scored fewer than 21 points for just the second time this season. Meanwhile, the defense was its usual self-destructive self, missing tackles and allowing two long touchdown runs. The Pirates closed the season having given up 40-plus points in six straight games -- five of them losses. In all, they gave up 40-plus points in 10 games this season.
Turning point: Maryland led 16-3 at halftime, but East Carolina has been able to put up some points this season so going down two scores did not seem too insurmountable. But Davis threw an interception to open the third quarter. Maryland took advantage when D.J. Adams scored on a 1-yard touchdown run on the next play to go up 23-3, essentially putting the game out of reach.
Stat of the game: 3. Number of points East Carolina scored in the first half, a season low.
Player of the game: Maryland running back Da'Rel Scott. The senior scored on two long touchdown runs in the second half, one for 61 yards and the other for 91 yards. He finished with with 201 yards rushing.
Second guessing: Was it really necessary for Maryland to keep throwing the ball down field up 44-13 in the fourth quarter? From the East Carolina perspective, the Pirates seemed unprepared and out of sorts, especially for the Maryland blitz. If East Carolina had done a better job on protection, perhaps the game could have been closer.
What it means: East Carolina (6-7) finished the season with a losing record for the first time since 2005. The Pirates lose Harris and several other senior starters for next season, but Davis returns along with Lance Lewis. But the big question has got to be how first-year coach Ruffin McNeill plans to fix his defense, ranked last in the nation. The unit was definitely young, so it should have more experience, but the Pirates cannot afford to have another defensive performance like this one in 2011.